Edgar criticises: The people of Selkirk were let down
A SELKIRK councillor has criticised the way the Royal Burgh was treated when the Olympic torch came to town.
Scottish Borders Councillor Gordon Edgar said Souters were “let down something terrible” when dignitaries were rushed off the Common Riding platform on Thursday to welcome the torch at the Walter Scott monument instead.
The reason was award-winning local bookmakers Scotbet’s sign would be seen in shots of the reception, offending sponsors Coca Cola, Lloyds TSB and Samsung.
Councillor Edgar said: “We thought we had covered every angle. It was meant to be a once in a lifetime experience like ‘where were you when Elvis died?’, ‘where were you when the torch came through?’ but for many there will be nothing, they just didn’t see it.”
The change took place minutes before the Olympic flame arrived in Market Place with Provost Les Millar, Standard Bearer Gavin Henderson and others having to climb down from the stage to the hastily rearranged meeting point.
Councillor Edgar said: “The main principals of the Common Riding weren’t snubbed, but they were not treated with the dignity they should have been treated with. They were on the platform and were asked to get down again and that was in my mind a wee bit embarrassing for them.”
Shop manager Andy Bennett said if he had been asked to put a banner over his Scotbet sign with a sponsor’s name he would have.
He said: “All businesses along the torch route had been warned not to indulge in ambush marketing and I fully understand why. I’m just sorry a great spectacle was lost when it could easily have been avoided.”
Both local and Olympic torch organisers had agreed the flame would be presented to the principals on the platform on the eve of the town’s most important historic celebration, the Common Riding.
Councillor Edgar described as ‘jobsworth’ the decision to move the ceremony and said the torch procession had been over-commercialised.
“Everybody was there to watch this happen on the platform and some jobsworth took it away, and the majority of the people in Market Place did not see what was going on. They were let down something terrible.
“It’s being run by LOCOG, I’m going to rename them LOCON because it’s a con, it was local people being conned. It’s a shame, it could have been good. Folk will say ‘I couldn’t care less’ and that the whole thing has just been over-commercialised.”
Scottish Borders Council expects to know what the final cost will be to the council for the torch going through the region by July 13.
And Councillor Edgar says he will wait to see the expense before deciding what action to take.
But he said: “I would think Selkirk folk are aggrieved the council is making any contribution at all because there wasn’t any outcome for them. They are saying why should we pay for something that wasn’t presented to us? That will be a case I will take up once the costs are known.”
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Weather for Selkirk
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North