Anger at bid to turn Edinburgh castle into London Olympic ‘billboard’

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By a Newsnet reporter

A bid by the organisers of the London Olympics to fix five eight foot high aluminium rings to the walls of Edinburgh castle has been met with fury.

Organisers of the games claim that fixing the rings to the iconic monument will demonstrate the “inclusiveness” of the games.

By a Newsnet reporter

A bid by the organisers of the London Olympics to fix five eight foot high aluminium rings to the walls of Edinburgh castle has been met with fury.

Organisers of the games claim that fixing the rings to the iconic monument will demonstrate the “inclusiveness” of the games.

The rings, fashioned in the shape of the Olympic symbol, would be fixed to the ramparts of the castle and would be visible for miles.

However, the plan has been met with outrage from local bodies and Edinburgh residents.  Residents have described plan as “insulting” and the capital’s leading civic heritage group has told Olympic officials to “leave the castle alone”.

Marion Williams, director of Edinburgh’s civic body, the Cockburn Association, called the proposal “daft, insulting and ridiculous”.

“They should leave the castle alone and get on with having the Olympics in London,” she added.  “Edinburgh has other things to worry about at the moment.  I’m not grumpy about the Olympics, but I am grumpy about London stamping its mark on Edinburgh.”

Rings have already been erected at London’s St Pancras station and permission has been granted for a further set to be placed on Tower Bridge.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Loco) said that the castle was similar to the status of the London landmarks which are Grade 1 listed buildings.

Williams responded by saying: “What a cheek to compare St Pancras and Tower Bridge with Edinburgh Castle … There won’t be anybody in Edinburgh who thinks this is a good idea.”

Labour MP Mark Lazarowicz said: “I would be concerned that this could become a precedent for other publicity campaigns wanting to use such a prestigious site.”

A spokesman for the UK’s Department of Culture, Media and Sport said: “It is short-sighted and disappointing that some people cannot recognise the benefits of having the Olympic rings in Edinburgh.

“Edinburgh Castle is a spectacular, iconic building, and will provide a fantastic backdrop for the rings, not to mention provide a focal point for games-related activities.

“London 2012 is for the whole of the UK and we know that Scotland will be right behind the likes of Sir Chris Hoy next summer, just like the whole of Britain.”

The application has been lodged with Historic Scotland.  The agency is expected to make an announcement before Edinburgh councillors vote on the plans early next year.

The news comes as it emerged that Scotland will not host any of Team GB’s football fixtures.  The favoured venues are Old Trafford, Wembley and the Millennium Stadium in Wales.