Council believed to favour hillside as insignia’s location

EDINBURGH’S controversial Olympic rings look set to be heading for The Mound, it can be revealed today.

The new plan comes after an initial bid to attach the huge emblem for London 2012 on to the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle was abandoned in the wake of public outcry and an Evening News campaign.

It is understood a shortlist of three preferred sites, all in and around The Mound, has now been drawn up following discussions between council officials and Olympic organisers. The metallic rings will also now be considerably smaller than the 30ft originally proposed.

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It is thought council officials have been working hard to find a solution amid fears Games chiefs would instead look to Glasgow to host the rings.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport at Westminster, would not comment today, however, and insists no decision has yet been taken.

The Mound embankment is thought to be the front- runner, with a plot near the Scott Monument and a pedestrian area outside the National Gallery of Scotland also among the contenders.

Councillor Steve Cardownie, deputy council leader and a fierce critic of the Edinburgh Castle bid, said he was “delighted” and would back the embankment option. “I personally would favour The Mound embankment as it doesn’t take up much public space and it’s a better location for it to go than the other two,” he said.

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“The size of the structure will be scaled back because there is now no requirement for them to be seen from so far afield.

“I think it is compatible with the cityscape and would not be seen as obtrusive.

“I am pleased that Edinburgh will be playing its part in the Olympic Games.”

News that a Capital site for the rings may be close to being agreed would pour cold water on Midlothian Council’s bid to hijack the Olympic emblem after Provost Adam Montgomery wrote to Games chief Lord Sebastian Coe asking for Hillend to enter the running.

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An Evening News poll before Christmas revealed 35 per cent of respondents wanted the rings sited at Edinburgh Airport, with 24 per cent favouring the Forth Bridge. The Mound, in third, attracted 23 per cent of the vote. A spokesman for the department of Culture, Media and Sport said: “Discussions remain ongoing with all relevant bodies to find a suitable alternative site.”

A source said the emblem was likely to be positioned at ground level following the furore over the Castle saga and the size of the insignia would be considerably reduced but specifications are not yet known.

It is thought the city council would be responsible for the upkeep of the emblem though it is not known for how long it would be sited or how much it would cost to erect.