WHITBY’s mayor has reacted angrily after learning the route the Olympic torch will take through the town.
In an interview with the Gazette in which he admitted having to “temper” his quotes, he also expressed his disappointment at the fact that not one person from our region will be carrying the torch as it passes through the streets of Hinderwell, Lythe, Sandsend and Whitby.
Although he emphasised his opinions are his alone, and do not reflect the opinion of the town council, Mayor John Freeman did not hold back when discussing the torch’s route.
He said: “Personally I would be so disillusioned with the process that I personally wouldn’t go if I was not town mayor.
“There’s not going to be one feature of Whitby that’s going to be on any shot there.
“They’ve missed a major opportunity, a photographic opportunity as good as any in the country.”
On Monday 18 June the torch will leave Hinderwell at 9.01am and will head through Lythe and Sandsend.
At 9.40am it will head down Upgang Lane, Chubb Hill and Bagdale to Whitby’s railway station, where it will then get on a North Yorkshire Moors Railway train to Pickering.
In doing so it will avoid any of Whitby’s landmarks and Coun Freeman said that instead of taking the most direct route, it would have been better for the torch to head past Captain Cook’s Monument.
He added: “It’s a tremendous opportunity wasted for both Whitby and the Olympics.
“We’ve been talking to officers at Scarborough Borough Council and they’ve tried really hard to get the photographic torchbearing route through Whitby.
“They submitted several routes and each was rejected.
“The Upgang Lane one was chosen, but it’s probably the most difficult in terms of actually accommodating schoolchildren and crowds to see the torch.
“My feeling is the whole thing has been organised by someone in an office in central London.
“There’s certainly been no local input and that really upsets me that the borough council and town council have not been involved in the decision.
“It should be a celebration and there’s a very interesting comparison of the freedom and openness of the jubilee celebrations with the secretive and closeness of the Olympics.”
The route the flame will take has been organised by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG), which also made a decision on who should carry the torch.
Their guidelines stated that anyone who lives within one hour of the route is eligible to apply, and yet no-one from the immediate Whitby area will carry the torch.
Instead the torchbearers hail from York, Billingham, Newcastle, Dubai and perhaps most surprisingly, Scarborough, where the torch will actually go later the same day.
Coun Freeman said: “With regards to the torchbearers, what can I say?
“Dubai, York, Scarborough, Billingham, Newcastle.
“I’m sure all are worthy torchbearers, I don’t have a problem there, but where in God’s name is anyone from our locality?
“It beggars belief – there’s been no consultation whatsoever.
“I strongly debated whether I would actually make my appearance but as mayor I represent the town so I’ve got to put my personal feelings on hold and I will be representing the town.
“I may not be mayor in June, and if I wasn’t mayor I wouldn’t go.”