Town fights Olympic snub

The Olympic Torch route misses Leyland and South Ribble
The Olympic Torch route misses Leyland and South Ribble

The Olympic Flame is will take a huge detour to avoid going through Leyland when it tours Lancashire later this year.

The iconic torch will complete a 70-day journey around the UK starting on May 19, as it makes its way to the Olympic Stadium ahead of the London Games.

Participating towns were announced in November, but a street-by-street guide has now been drawn up, and shows that 1,019 communities will be taking part in the celebrations, including nearby Euxton and Croston.

But the torch bearers will not step foot inside South Ribble, despite the council applying for inclusion.

Coun Derek Forrest, who represents Leyland Central at South Ribble Council, said: “It’s disappointing that the torch won’t be coming through Leyland.

“We already knew that the council’s application had been unsuccessful, but now we’ve seen the map, it seems that it’s going everywhere else apart from Leyland.”

He added: “The town centre would have been an ideal route, especially Hough Lane, and I’m sure that Leylanders would have gathered in their hundreds to support it.”

A spokesman for the Olympic Organising Committee said that a lot of communities have been left disappointed because the torch ‘can’t go everywhere’, but didn’t give a specific reason for South Ribble’s application being refused.

He said: “The aim is to take the Olympic Flame to as many places and to showcase as much of the UK as possible.

“The route has been devised after extensive consultation with representatives in each region, and although the Olympic Torch Relay can’t go everywhere, the Flame is being taken to within 10 miles of 95 per cent of the population.

“Whilst the desire is to reach as many communities as possible and take in as much of the UK, the route has been carefully planned with operational considerations, such as the size of the convoy, timing, safety, route distances, traffic movements and daily travelling requirements in mind, required when organising the logistics for an event of this scale and scope.”

Now, South Ribble council is trying to keep spirits high by organising its own Olympic torch-style relay for school children.

Around 5,000 pupils from across the borough will take part in a festival of dancing during the week-long celebration, and routines will be performed as the ‘torch’ arrives at each school, starting on June 18.

A special Primary School Olympics will also be held at Worden Park on July 6, and it has been announced that a Leyland man will act as a torch bearer in Chorley.