Somerset

Olympic flame to visit Taunton in 2012 torch relay

An evening of celebrations is to take place next May when the Olympic torch relay visits Taunton.

The Olympic flame is set to arrive in the UK from Greece on 18 May 2012 and will be in the Somerset town three days later on 21 May.

It will leave Land's End, Cornwall, the morning after reaching the UK, before travelling 8,000 miles (12,874 km) around the country, making 70 stops.

Nominations will be used to pick 8,000 torch bearers.

Road closures

Organisers say the route has been planned to ensure the torch comes within a one-hour journey for 95% of the UK population.

Last year Conservative-run Somerset County Council said it could not commit the estimated £315,000 cost of road closures and managing traffic for the event.

Speaking then, Tory cabinet member David Huxtable said the cost represented "half a primary school".

On Wednesday the county council said it believed its decision to not to bid for the relay last year because of the cost implications - when it was trying to save money - had paid off.

"We've always supported the Olympic torch passing through Somerset.

"Thanks to our continued discussions with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, we now understand that there will be no cost to the county council," the spokesman added.

'Spotlight on Taunton'

Deputy leader of Taunton Dean Borough Council, Mark Edwards, said it is hard to assess what the cost to the council will now be.

"We believe it to be minimal but the gain locally is going to be enormous so I think it will be clearly offset.

"As far as Taunton is concerned it is bringing the Olympics to the town. It's putting a spotlight on Taunton.

"We will be on the national news and we'll be seen as part of the process and, as we are very fortunate, the torch arrives from Greece on 18 May and we are holding our event on the 21st.

"The torch will be arriving in the town - being passed from person to person - and it will be used to light a cauldron somewhere in the centre of Taunton.

"That will remain lit until the next day when the flame continues its journey," he added.

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