Burning issue of Olympic flame

With less than a year to go until the Olympic Flame travels through Scotland, Scottish Borders Council has been looking for nominations for local torch bearers despite their disappointment that the torch skirts round the region rather than passing through the Borders.

The Olympic Torch Relay route was announced in May, the aim being that 95% of the population will be within a one hour journey time of the relay and that torchbearers will carry the Olympic Flame as close to home as possible.

However, there has been criticism of the route chosen through the Borders and the fact that there is no stop-over point as it travels from Edinburgh to Alnwick.

At last week’s meeting of Scottish Borders Council, Councillor Gunn asked for support in demanding that the Olympic torch encompasses more of the region on its travels.

His motion at the meeting read: “This council deplores the publicity issued by the British Olympic Committee that ‘the Olympic flame will be travelling the length and breadth of Scotland’.

“Starting at Glasgow and going north to the Northern Isles then west to the Hebrides and thence to Edinburgh is neither the length nor the breadth of Scotland.

“We demand of the Olympic Committee that the Olympic flame travels south of the M8 and encompasses the Borders and the general south of Scotland on its travels. In other words, live up to the publicity and have the symbol of inclusion which the Olympic movements is supposed to represent, by travelling properly “the length and breadth of Scotland” before it goes back to the host country.”

However, Councillor Gunn’s motion was defeated.

Following the meeting a Scottish Borders Council statement was issued saying: “At this time, only the main points of the route the Olympic torch will take have been agreed. The council is, therefore, awaiting formal confirmation of the full route, which will come through in due course.”

As part of the UK wide Olympic Torch Relay, Scottish Borders Council (SBC) called on people from across the region to nominate inspirational members of their community to carry the Olympic Flame, and are hoping that when the process closed at midnight yesterday, the Borders was well represented.

The Olympic flame will be carried across the UK by 8,000 inspirational torchbearers during the relay, with 90% of the places being made available to the public through programmes run by London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) and three partners – Coca-Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung. Half of the total number of torchbearer places are expected to go to people aged between 12 and 24 years of age.

Those nominating were asked to say in 150 words why their nominee should carry the Olympic Flame.

Later this year, judging panels will be set up in each nation and region of the UK to select the torchbearers for their area.

Councillor Graham Garvie, SBC’s executive member for sport, culture and community learning said: “Giving the people of the Borders the chance to help shape the Olympic Torch Relay and play a key role in marking the start of the Olympic Games is an incredible opportunity.

“I know that there are many people here who deserve recognition for their contribution to life in the Borders. I urge people to think about who might deserve this opportunity and nominate them to be a torchbearer. This is an opportunity to be part of a once in a lifetime event.”

Sir Craig Reedie, IOC Member and LOCOG Board Member said: “Carrying the Olympic Flame is an incredible honour and is an opportunity for the people of the Scottish Borders to reward someone inspirational or who has made a difference to the local community by nominating them to be part of this historic event.”