Flaming Heck! Spen missed out of Olympic Torch route

The Olympic torch. Photo: LOGOC.
The Olympic torch. Photo: LOGOC.

Spen Valley has been left out in the cold by Olympic Torch relay route organisers.

Huddersfield, Dewsbury and Batley will welcome the Olympic torch on June 24 and 25 next year.

But the route will not pass through any towns and villages in Spen – despite a strong campaign for the torch to come through the valley in the same year as the 200th anniversary of the Luddite uprising.

Spen is home to the Princess Mary Stadium, the only athletics stadium in North Kirklees. It has produced thousands of athletes since it was built by the former Spenborough Council. Lord Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), even appeared there as a young athlete.

The valley has also produced several Olympians – athlete Peter Crampton, cyclist Lisa Brambani and hockey player Norman Hughes.

Campaigner John Appleyard fought for the torch to come through Spen to mark the Luddite anniversary. He said: “I am extremely disappointed. It would have been really good for the area which has an extremely good history to be proud of. Bringing the flame through would have recognised that.”

The 70-day Olympic Torch Relay starts at Land’s End on May 19, and travels 8,000 miles around the UK. The Kirklees leg was put together by LOCOG and Kirklees chiefs.

Kirklees Lib Dem leader Coun Kath Pinnock (Cleckheaton) said she was ‘very angry’ Spen was left out.

She said: “My first reaction was disappointment, but now I’m very angry because the Spen Valley is a very big area and lots of people would have liked to see it.

“The torch is stopping twice in Huddersfield which seems totally unfair. Spen people should have their fair share of the excitement.”

Spen MP Mike Wood said he was delighted the torch was coming to his constituency, but added: “I accept it cannot go everywhere – but I regret that it’s not going to come through Spen.”

Both politicians said they would work to get the torch brought through Spen.