Calls for Olympic torch to light up Comet country

HOPE still burns for the Olympic Torch to pass through Comet country with councillors and MPs calling for the flame to grace North Herts.

The initial route was announced last week with the torch stopping overnight in Cambridge on July 7 and Luton the following day.

That means relay runners could bring the iconic Olympic symbol into North Herts, Central Beds or Stevenage, but organisers won’t say either way if it will enter the region.

Councillor Ian Knighton, portfolio holder for leisure at North Herts District Council, said: “I think it will be a huge benefit for the local community - it’s not just a sporting event, it is a community event.

“We’re going to talk to the Olympic body to see if it can come through North Herts.”

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The route has been decided by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A spokesman for the body said it is looking for 110 torch bearers per day and hopes that the flame can visit as many “amazing” locations as possible.

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However the MP for North East Herts is leaving nothing to chance and has begun lobbying for the torch to pass through Comet country during its 8,000 mile journey across the UK.

Oliver Heald said: “Given that the Olympic relay torch is going to be in Cambridge on July 7 and Luton July 8 it will be possible it will come through North Herts and we can all get behind this great Olympic event. I have written to LOCOG and Lord Coe and I hope as many people as possible will look at being torch bearers.”

Similar calls were made by the leader of Stevenage Borough Council who thinks the torch should pass through the town.

Cllr Sharon Taylor said: “I think it should come through Stevenage, we are the first new town.

“We’re going to write to Lord Coe and the Olympic committee and suggest that the torch comes through.

“We’ve had a great sporting weekend with Ian Poulter winning, Lewis Hamilton coming second and our football team on the verge of going up to another division.

“I think it will be a success for Stevenage if it comes here.”

However, Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin, takes a different view on the Olympic Torch.

“The Olympic Games won’t depend on whether it (the torch) momentarily passes from one town or the other,” he said.

Hertfordshire County Council does not know where the flame will visit but “are actively promoting the participation of all of Hertfordshire’s many towns”.

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