Hartlepool Council have defended their decision to fund part of the Olympic Torch Relay with money intended for a maritime festival.
The Hartlepool Mail spoke to the council after finding out about the spending through Help Me Investigate. They report:
“The Maritime Festival had a budget of £35,000 and officers say around 10 per cent of that, plus external sports funding, covered the £10,000 cost of hosting the Olympic Torch.
[A council spokesman said] “The bulk of the Maritime Festival budget was spent on staging the Diamond Festival, a celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which took place on the weekend of June 2/3 – two weeks prior to the arrival of the torch.
“The subsequent decision to end the Maritime Festival was part of the council’s wide-ranging strategy to deal with Government budget cuts and it had nothing whatsoever to do with the money spent on hosting the Olympic Torch.”
Intersport general manager Tom Foley and Next’s Group Product Director Christos Angelides exchange an olympic ‘torch kiss’ – photo from BBC Stoke
By Carol Miers, Juliet Ferguson and Paul Bradshaw
Funds intended for maritime festivals, economic development, council reserves and food markets were among pots which were raided to pay for torch relay bills, according to an investigation by Help Me Investigate users.
The details come from almost 100 Freedom of Information requests to local authorities by Carol Miers and Juliet Ferguson. They reveal that over £4m was spent by respondents to meet Olympic organisers’ requirements for hosting the events. If the figures are representative, the total bill across the UK could top £13m.