Poll: Almost 200,000 expected to line Olympic torch route through Suffolk

MORE than a quarter of Suffolk’s population will see the Olympic torch as it passes through the county, new figures show.

Nearly 200,000 people will line the route during the three-day visit – making it the county’s biggest-ever public event.

The torch will spend time in Suffolk over three consecutive days in early July.

Councils and the emergency services have been planning with the London Olympic Games Organising Committee (LOCOG) to manage the torch’s journey through the county for months – and their event plans reveal the size of the crowds expected.

Colin Noble, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member responsible for sport and the Olympics, said that between 160,000 and 190,000 people are expected to hit the streets to catch sight of the flame as it is carried through Suffolk by nearly 100 different runners.

While the predictions are based on average conditions and could therefore be affected by the weather, they do provide an insight into what kind of welcome Suffolk is expected to give the Olympic torch.

The county’s 2012 officials hope that hosting the torch relay on three separate days will help raise Suffolk’s national and international profile whilst also giving a boost to local businesses.

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Mr Noble said: “We’ve seen from the early legs of the relay that the torch is drawing huge crowds – at some points up to 10 people deep. I sincerely hope the same happens here in Suffolk.

“As a county renowned for tourism, Suffolk knows how to give a warm welcome. I’d like to urge anyone, whether or not you live near the official route, to come out and see the Olympic torch on Suffolk soil.”

To ensure the relay runs on time and does so safely, there will be a “rolling road closure” moving with the torch as it travels. Roads that will be affected now have large, bright yellow signs advising the public of planned closures.

Many towns are expected to face logistical challenges on the day with so many people wanting to get to the streets of places such as Southwold, Aldeburgh and Woodbridge.

Both Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils are finalising details about the measures being taken when the flame arrives and information will be given directly to residents and will be available online.

Earlier this month, Suffolk’s torch relay organisers urged local business owners to check how close the torch relay will pass to their premises and see what action they could take to plan for, and capitalise on, the event.

To find out more visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/readyforthetorch.

elliot.furniss@eadt.co.uk

THE torch will begin day 47 of the relay – Thursday, July 5 – in Norwich and arrive in Suffolk at Lowestoft at just after 10am.

It will then travel down the coast, passing through Wrentham, Reydon, Southwold, Kelsale and Saxmundham before heading to Aldeburgh.

The torch will then move to Wickham Market, Ufford, Melton, Woodbridge and Felixstowe before travelling up the Orwell River by speedboat before arriving in Ipswich at 5.40pm.

It will then be carried along the Waterfront, through the town centre and into Christchurch Park. That night, Ipswich will also be hosting an evening celebration extravaganza at Christchurch Mansion.

On Day 48 – Friday, July 6 – the flame will be taken from Christchurch Park, through the town, past Ipswich Town Football Club’s Portman Road stadium, before moving on to Essex with legs in Colchester, Hatfield Peverel, Heybridge and Maldon.

The flame returns to Suffolk on the afternoon of day 49 – Saturday, July 7 – starting in Haverhill at 2.42pm, before heading to Bury St Edmunds and then Newmarket before moving on to Cambridge for the next leg.

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