Castle Olympic rings bill to be paid by taxpayers

The rings would be visible from Princes Street

HARD pressed taxpayers are to foot a £200,000 bill to hang Olympic rings from Edinburgh Castle.

The plan – for a city still reeling from the expensive trams fiasco – has led to Olympic bosses being accused of having “no shame”.

The aluminium advertisement for the London 2012 games had already sparked outrage among politicians, who blasted the move to use the ancient structure as a billboard for an event that’s happening in a rival city.

The cost will borne from the Government-funded Olympic Executive.

But politicians say the money would be better spent of sports facilities for children.

Independent MSP for the Lothians, Margo MacDonald said: “When I think of what we lost to the Olympics from the general funding pot it makes me really, really angry.

“The Olympic Committee has such a brass neck. For them to insist on spending that money now shows they have no shame and no real interest in community participation in sport.”


She added that Scotland would see no benefit from the billions of pounds of investment in the London Games.

She continued: “There’s football pitches across the city which need to be drained, 50 young cyclists in Edinburgh who would love to have a velodrome and a top-flight cricket team who have been desperate for a fixed ground for years – but can’t because of projects like this.”

The Scottish capital will be the first city outside ofLondonto advertise the upcoming Olympics.

Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh Council’s deputy leader, said that while the city is not against the games, he was astonished at the cost.

He said: “This is an extraordinary amount of money to be spent on a temporary sign and I would prefer to see the funds involved be donated to local sports organisations who would make much better use of this cash.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the £200,000 would cover the entire project, including recycling the rings.

In a statement last week they described critics as “short-sighted” and said the Olympics were for the whole of the UK.

However Jonathan Mills, director of the Edinburgh International Festival, said they expected a boost from their programme coinciding with the Olympics as tourists could choose to visit other parts of the UK.

He said: “From almost the moment I was appointed, I thought that 2012 represented a really special opportunity for the Festival.”