Toon legend backs Olympic torch protest

FOOTBALL legend Malcolm Macdonald is backing calls for the Olympic flame to be carried through his home village on foot rather than being driven through.

After the route the Olympic torch will take through Northumberland was announced last year, Seaton Sluice residents started planning events to showcase their village.

However, they later realised the flame would go past the village by car and not be carried through, prompting the launch of a petition by Seaton Sluice and Old Hartley Residents’ Association in a bid to get the route altered.

Former Newcastle United and England striker Macdonald, pictured, has now give the campaign his support.

“The whole village is up in arms,” said the 62-year-old.

“We have one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline at Seaton Sluice, with a cycle and footpath along the dunes. It would be perfect for the torchbearers to run.”

Altogether, 18 towns and villages in Northumberland are included on the 136-mile route to be taken through the county by the torch over three days in June ahead of this year’s Olympic Games.

County councillor Anita Romer, of Seaton Sluice, said: “When the petition was started, I feared there was probably nothing which could be done to influence the Olympic committee, but I had not bargained on the influence of Malcolm Macdonald. Maybe he can do what the rest of us have failed to do so far.”

Seaton Valley Council vice-chairman Susan Dungworth added: “We are very disappointed at the decision, especially as we are planning a celebration event for the day, and we fully support the petition.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for children and adults alike, and we have to do what we can to try and make it as memorable as possible for our residents.”

A spokesman for the games’ London organising committee said the torch’s route had been planned to ensure it passed within ten miles of 95 per cent of the British population.