SBC reveals secrecy deal over Borders Olympic torch route

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THE Olympic torch is likely to pass through the Scottish Borders next year, TheSouthern understands, writes Andrew Keddie.

But for security reasons, the details of the route are being kept under wraps and Scottish Borders Council has, like other local authorities in Scotland, signed a non-disclosure deal with games organisers.

News of the secrecy agreement was conveyed to last week’s council meeting by Councillor Graham Garvie, SBC’s executive member for sport and a member of the national committee for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Mr Garvie revealed he had attempted, prior to last week’s full council meeting, to dissuade SNP councillor Kenneth Gunn, pictured, from proposing a motion, asking the council to deplore the scant publicity regarding the route. Details last month confirmed 74 UK locations for next year’s torch relay, including Glasgow on June 8, Edinburgh on June 13, Alnwick on June 14, Newcastle on June 15 and Carlisle on June 20.

But, undeterred, Mr Gunn sought support to “demand of the Olympic Committee that the flame travels south of the M8 and encompasses the Borders and the general south of Scotland on its travels ... in other words, that the organisers live up to the publicity and have this symbol of inclusion travelling properly the length and breadth of Scotland before it goes back to the host country”.

Mr Garvie led the opposition, claiming Borderers had been given the opportunity to engage with the torch route through the Moment to Shine campaign which was seeking nominations on behalf of 8,000 inspirational members of the public – about half in the 12-24 age group – to carry the torch on its journey around the UK. And he stressed that further details of the actual route between relay points was not expected to be released until November.

“I explained this to Mr Gunn, hoping he would drop this motion, and emphasised the non-disclosure agreement. The security implications should not be lost on members given the terrorist atrocity in Munich in 1972 and the demonstrations during the torch’s journey in 2008 when the event was held in China.

“It is still the aim of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) that 95 per cent of the population will be within a one-hour journey time of the relay and that torchbearers will carry the flame as close to home as possible. I will let Mr Gunn and his colleagues draw their own conclusions.”

Councillor David Paterson accused the SNP councillors of “trying to score cheap political points”, but Mr Gunn said his motion was not politically-motivated and he urged the council to demand that the route be published now.

His motion was defeated by 16 votes to six.