Anger over £200,000 public cash to be spent on huge Olympic sign

Critics say the money that would be spent putting the rings on the Castle would be better spent on local sports clubs
Critics say the money that would be spent putting the rings on the Castle would be better spent on local sports clubs
Have your say

PLACING the giant Olympic logo on Edinburgh Castle will cost taxpayers £200,000, the Evening News can reveal today – a figure that has sparked outrage from politicians.

A large aluminium-cast model of the five Olympic rings – along with the Paralympic Agitos symbol – would be fixed to the Castle ramparts under plans submitted to the city council last week.

The cost will be borne by the government-funded Olympic Executive, a move that has angered politicians who believe the funds should be spent on sports facilities for children.

Despite the cost, Festival bosses said today they expected a “once-in-a-lifetime” boost from their programme coinciding with the Olympics.

However, independent Lothians MSP Margo MacDonald said: “When I think of what we lost to the Olympics from the general funding pot it makes me really, really angry.

“The Olympic committee has such a brass neck. For them to insist on spending that money now shows they have no shame and no real interest in community participation in sport.”

Ms MacDonald said the Lothians would receive no benefit from the billions invested in the Olympic games.

She said: “There’s football pitches across the city which need to be drained, 50 young cyclists in Edinburgh who would love to have a velodrome, and a top-flight cricket team who have been desperate for a fixed ground for years – but can’t because of projects like this.”

Edinburgh is the first city outside of London to be approached to display the 2012 emblem.

Deputy council leader Steve Cardownie also said although the city was not anti-Olympic, he baulked at the cost.

He said: “This is an extraordinary amount of money to be spent on a temporary sign, and I would prefer to see the funds involved be donated to local sports organisations who would make much better use of this cash.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the £200,000 would cover the entire project, including recycling the rings.

The department re-issued a statement from last week, which described critics as “short- sighted” and stressed the Olympics were an event for the whole of the UK.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, said the Olympics could provide a huge boost for the Festival if those attending stay on in the UK and visit the Capital.

He added: “From almost the moment I was appointed, I thought that 2012 represented a really special opportunity for the Festival.”