The spirit of community celebration which swept the country for the Diamond Jubilee looks set to make a sporting return as residents start planning their Olympic and Paralympic summer events, according to a new LGA survey.
Despite the soggy weather, the number of spectators turning out to cheer on the Torch Relay has exceeded estimates by tens of thousands. More than 10 million people have so far turned out and, on top of the 66 sponsor-led evening celebrations, councils have themselves laid on an estimated 1,300 Torch events for their communities.
This spirit of local celebration looks set to continue throughout the Olympics and Paralympics, with thousands of other events taking place such as street parties, family fun days, festivals, carnivals, dance events and ‘cultural Olympiads'
According to the LGA survey of councils, the four most popular days of community celebration will be the Olympics Opening Ceremony, Paralympics Opening Ceremony, Olympics Closing Ceremony and Gold Medal Saturday (August 4).
Sir Merrick Cockell, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said:
"Community celebrations for the Olympics and Paralympics won't end with the Torch Relay. For the next month it looks like we're set for the sort of community spirit we saw with the Royal Wedding and Diamond Jubilee, with family, friends and neighbours coming together across the country in a whole range of Games-themed events.
"Understandably, the focus of the world will now predominantly be on London and the Olympic venues, but councils across the country are working hard to help their residents feel part of the occasion wherever they live.
"The Torch Relay has been a huge logistical challenge but it's one councils have risen to admirably, managing the hundreds of road closures, recruiting a small army of volunteer marshals to keep spectators safe, cleaning up after the cavalcade and handling a whole range of other issues. In many places, the number of spectators were hundreds and even thousands more than anticipated.
"The spectacle simply wouldn't have been possible without the sterling effort of ‘can do' council staff, many of whom went above and beyond their duties to help national organisers ensure it ran smoothly, often literally baling out venues in the driving rain. The community-minded residents who gave up their time to help were also instrumental to the Torch Relay's success. That so many people turned out to be part of this once-in-a-generation experience, despite the soggy summer, makes all the hard work worthwhile."
As part of a drive to make organising an Olympic street party as easy as possible and to encourage people to get involved, Barnet Council is offering free bunting to the first several streets to complete their 'Olympic street party pledge'. Nine pledges have now been successfully completed.
Derbyshire Dales District Council invited local communities to apply for cash to help their Olympics celebrations. Grants of between £50 and £200 were available for community groups, town and parish councils and registered charities to help them stage events, organise entertainment, buy equipment and provide commemorative items for those taking part. Council funding has so far helped about 120 local communities celebrate.
Kent County Council has launched a Kent 2012 Small Grants scheme to support local community groups with cultural, creative and sporting projects linked to the London 2012 Games. Grants usually range from £500 to £1,000 and go towards equipment, materials, venue hire, coaching/facilitators' fees, promotional costs, transport and overheads.
A variety of free sporting events are taking place in venues across Luton this weekend as part of the Luton4Life – Community Games. Activities include a football tournament, cricket skills workshops, netball, badminton, a family fun run, a family golf event and petanque. There will also be a health and wellbeing roadshow. Luton4Life, sponsored by London Luton Airport, is a joint project between Luton Borough Council and local sport, health, public and business partners.
Notes to editors
1. The LGA survey was launched on 30 May 2012, and sent to officers with responsibility for sports development. By 18 June, 94 councils had taken part in the survey – a response rate of 25 per cent. For the full report, please visit the LGA website:
2. Estimated numbers for England and Wales are grossed figures. The grossed figure is calculated through taking a mean average for respondents by authority type as an indication of the response for non respondents. This figure is then added to the overall total for responding councils.
3. Spectator figures come from the Government Olympic Executive. The total as of July 19 is 10.1 million.
4. Sir Merrick will be speaking at Holland Park, Kensington, next Thursday (26), as the Torch makes its way through before the final evening stop-over in Westminster.
11 September 2012