Wealthy London boroughs paid less for Olympic Torch Relay – investigation

Image attribution: Angryoffinchley

Image: Angryoffinchley

London boroughs with the poorest populations paid more to host Olympic Torch Relay events, while more affluent boroughs spent nothing, according to an investigation by Help Me Investigation users.

Waltham Forest spent over £250,000 whereas Westminster incurred no costs.

Government data shows that Westminster has more than six times the number of active businesses compared with Waltham Forest, despite having a smaller population.

In July 2012, Waltham Forest was the first London borough to host the Olympic Torch Relay and incurred one of the highest relay costs in the country. More than £125,000 was spent on four hours of music, games and displays at the London Olympic Torch Relay evening party.

Media and Public Affairs Manager Lara Ceronni justified the spending by saying that many “were not able to secure tickets to the Olympics.”

Waltham Forest Council explained that the event was for “as many residents as possible” to freely enjoy an “Olympic experience.”

In contrast, Westminster Council incurred no costs, with official sponsors Coca Cola hosting a £15 a head evening concert at the GLA’s stage in Hyde Park on the penultimate day of the torch.

Westminster’s residents have a staggering 90% higher gross annual pay than those in Waltham Forest, averaging at £40,000 in comparison to £25,000, according to government figures.

A Major Impact Events team, in Westminster, negotiated the costs for ‘city dressing’ and some stewarding, getting funding from the six Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and the GLA’s Your London 2012.

The Council Commissioner, Tim Owen said:

“The City Council has very good working relationships with our six BIDs and held monthly meetings specifically about Games preparations with them for the two years leading up to the Games. This ensured their members were able to prepare as well as possible in order to benefit from London 2012.”

In Waltham Forest, the Environment and Regeneration Management Board developed and approved a plan for their costs to come from local authority funding, setting aside a budget called Games Time Activities.

Lara Cerroni said that LOCOG had managed to fund the Waltham Forest Torch Relay and Convoy, as well as the staging and the entertainment for the evening event.

Since the London Olympics last year, Waltham Forest has faced £750,000 of cuts in the Library and Information Service. The two libraries under threat have now been closed.

Editing by Abbey Hartley

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