South East Wales

London 2012: Advertising 'no-go zone' in Cardiff criticised

A crackdown on "ambush" marketing during this year's Olympic football events has been heavily criticised by some opposition assembly members.

There will be a 500m "no-go zone" around the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in place for unofficial advertisers for nearly a fortnight.

It is claimed Welsh business opportunities will be stifled.

But the Welsh government said Cardiff was bound by Olympic rules and sponsors must be protected.

The regulations are intended to prevent "ambush" marketing by corporate rivals and others in Cardiff during London 2012 football events.

Plaid Cymru spokesman Simon Thomas said the no-go zone was "a sledgehammer to crack a nut" and accused the Welsh government of missing an opportunity to promote business.

"It is a great shame that the one of the first pieces of law making we are making here since the referendum is one that protects the corporate interests of Coca Cola and McDonald's and does nothing to address the opportunities for Welsh businesses around the marketing of the Olympic events in Wales," he said.

"What they are trying to achieve is to protect the pockets of the biggest and strongest, and crackdown on the weakest."

Protect sponsors

But environment minister John Griffiths defended the rules. He said they were essential in order to protect sponsors and they also were a condition of Cardiff being allowed to host events.

Image caption Cardiff's Millennium Stadium will host the first action of the London 2012 Olympics

"I consider the regulations take a proportionate approach to achieving their aims, balancing the necessary restrictions with sufficient exemptions to protect the interests of residents and businesses located within the designated events zone, seeking to ensure, as far as possible, business as usual," he said.

However, Liberal Democrat Eluned Parrott wanted assurances South Wales Police would operate a "light touch" approach to enforcing the regulations before her party would support them.

The regulations enable the Olympic Delivery Authority and the London Organising Committee to determine trading and advertising within a designated event zone.

Similar regulations will be in place in all areas hosting Olympic events.

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