Suffolk: Olympic ‘ambassador’ opts not to accept payment for role

A COUNCIL leader who was set to earn �300 a day as a tour host for international journalists visiting Suffolk during the Olympics has announced he will not take the payment.

Tim Passmore, leader of Mid Suffolk District Council, was due to receive the fee for every tour around county – up to a maximum of �10,000 – after being appointed Olympic ambassador.

But following questions over the manner of his appointment, which did not involve a formal selection procedure, Mr Passmore has decided to forgo the money.

“The role of Olympic ambassador has the potential to make a significant difference to the economy of Suffolk,” said Mr Passmore.

“Nothing should be allowed to detract from this which is why I’ve decided to waive the payments that have been offered to me as part of the role. My aim is to raise the profile of Suffolk across the world for the benefit of all our businesses and residents.”

The Conservative councillor’s appointment was made following a meeting of local authority leaders in Suffolk last September. But his appointment drew criticism from Ipswich council’s leader David Ellesmere, the only Labour figure present at the meeting, who suggested it was a case of “jobs for the Tory boys”.

Suffolk County Council leader Mark Bee defended the appointment of his fellow Conservative, pointing to Mr Passmore’s experience as a former chief executive of Choose Suffolk, the body previously responsible for promoting tourism in the county, and the need to fill the role promptly.

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Following Mr Passmore’s decision not to accept a fee for his ambassador work, Mr Bee said: “I’d like to commend Tim for putting the role before himself.

“Tourism is a �1.75billion-a-year industry in Suffolk and the county council and Visit East Anglia will be working closely with Tim to make sure Suffolk secures a tourism boost from the games.”

Mr Ellesmere said: “I think it’s good news that no money is being taken but I do still have concerns that there has not been an open process in the appointment for the ambassador.”