Torch plans emerge

THOUSANDS of children will line the streets of Morpeth to view the Olympic Torch Relay.

More details have been revealed about the celebration in the town when the torch is brought through by five runners on Friday, June 15, as part of its journey across the UK in the build-up to the 2012 Games.

The Morpeth leg will begin at the bottom of Whorral Bank at about 10.30am.

The torch will then be taken along Howard Terrace to Copper Chare and Newgate Street, before turning along Bridge Street, going over the Telford Bridge and up Castle Bank to the Mafeking roundabout, where the leg is due to finish at 10.48am.

Banners bearing the Northumberland Torch Relay logo have been erected along the route to show where people can stand to watch the procession.

Northumberland County Council Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism Neil Bradbury said: “Our message is simple. If you see the distinctive lamppost banner then this marks a good spot where you can see the torch relay pass by with a torchbearer carrying the flame.

“The excitement is certainly starting to build up and we are really looking forward to welcoming the Olympic torch to our county.”

Morpeth will play host to about 2,500 children, bused in from schools across Northumberland, who will line Bridge Street to wave flags when the torchbearers go past.

Morpeth Pipe Band will warm up the crowds and there will be activities by Coca-Cola on the Market Place and Lloyds TSB outside the branch, as well as goodie giveaways from the sponsors along the route. Samsung will also distribute keepsakes as part of the advance convoy of the sponsors’ vehicles.

The flame will be accompanied by a 44-vehicle convoy, including the sponsors, Metropolitan and Northumbria Police and national media. People have been warned to expect disruption throughout the event and to leave plenty of time if they wish to see the torch.

They should aim to have found a viewing position at least 30 minutes before the activation convoy is due to arrive and it is suggested that they walk to the route wherever possible. They can view the torch at any point along the route, but are advised to stand on the left side of the road.

Bridge Street will be closed to traffic from 9am to about 11.30am on the day of the event and diversions will be in place. The rest of the route will be covered by rolling road closures as the torch progresses.

Parking will also be limited as some spaces near the leisure centre will be reserved for coaches.

County Cultural Development Manager Nigel Walsh, who is heading up the Northumberland 2012 organisational team, said: “It is absolutely fantastic that Northumberland has the torch over three days and the communities on route are planning a variety of celebrations to welcome the Olympic flame.

“Understandably, an event of this size cannot be put on without some disruption to the road network. We will be trying to minimise these impacts, but the reality is that the convoy will be moving at walking speed while the torch is being carried.

“The majority of closures will be rolling — this means that the road will close just prior to the torch convoy arriving and will re-open straight afterwards — and it is hoped that any disruption will be very temporary, but no vehicles will be able to join or cross the highway while the convoy is moving in the direction of travel.”

People who will be travelling around the county on their normal business during the event have also been advised to leave extra time for journeys and find alternative routes away from the torch where possible.

Information about the relay is available online, through e-bulletins, on social media, from council staff, information centres, libraries and tourist information centres. A full timetable of the Torch Relay, including maps and details of road closures, can be found at northumberlandin2012.northumberland.gov.uk

Businesses who have concerns about the disruption can call 0845 600 6400 for more information.