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Olympic torch brought Norwich £3.5m boost, council claims

The Olympic torch relay makes its way through Norwich.  Brian Armstrong 75 from Reading hands over to Josh Worley 16 from Tharston. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

The Olympic torch relay makes its way through Norwich. Brian Armstrong 75 from Reading hands over to Josh Worley 16 from Tharston. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2012

Norwich’s economy was given a £3.5m boost from the visit of the Olympic torch to the city in the same week as the Lord Mayor’s Celebrations, council leaders say.

More than 100,000 people headed into Norwich between July 4 and 8 to watch the torch relay and enjoy the Lord Mayor’s Procession, council officers have estimated. And that provided a huge shot in the arm for the city’s pubs, restaurants and shops, according to the leader of Norwich City Council.

Brenda Arthur, leader of Labour-run City Hall, said: “We were very fortunate to attract the torch to Norwich. This was a whole city celebration and many organisations contributed to its success.

“In all around 106,000 people attended across the celebration, with 56,000 of those coming for the torch and 50,000 for the Lord Mayor’s celebration.

“You only had to be in the city during that splendid time to see how the restaurants and pubs were packed with customers.

“We estimate that over the five days, there was £3.5m of visitor spend in the city. That must have meant lots of trade in these difficult times.

“On top of that, many of our service providers will have increased business. It had a tremendous impact on people’s spirits and on the economy in general.”

Stefan Gurney, Norwich City Centre Partnership manager, said the two events had seen footfall rise significantly in the city, which would have led to a positive impact for businesses.

He added: “If people have not seen the city before, then by coming for the relay their knowledge of the city will have increased and hopefully it will encourage them to return.

“Norwich has such as diverse offering of retail, leisure and heritage that if people come and see it for the first time then they often want to come back again.”

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said: “The influx of people flooding into Norwich to watch the torch relay and the Lord Mayor’s procession, really boosted trade for retailers, pubs and restaurants.

“It brought people into the city who may not often visit, highlighting to them what is available and encouraging them to revisit. The visitor economy is an integral part of Norwich’s economy and day visitors help contribute toward Norfolk’s economic growth.”

Ms Arthur said the costs of staging the Olympic torch relay and the Lord Mayor’s celebrations were met from within the city council’s budgets.

The existing budget for the annual Lord Mayor’s Celebration weekend of events is around £150,000, but this year the council stretched that budget to include the Olympic Torch Relay too, and with the help of an additional £150,000 from partners.

Ms Arthur said: “Thanks must go to our funding partners, including our local charities, the Arts Council, the county council and LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games) who between them contributed £150,000 to support the community projects around the torch and dressing our fine city. “Without their support we would not have been able to deliver such impressive celebrations, for which we have received nothing but praise.

“I believe it is really important that we can continue to provide events such as this for free, especially in these difficult times when people don’t have so much to spend.”

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