A COUNCIL has been accused of “bad planning” after scores of people had their view of the Olympic Torch procession blocked by a convoy of sponsors’ vehicles.
An estimated 23,000 residents lined the streets of Hartlepool to see the torch being carried through the town.
But while the vast majority were happy with the eagerly-anticipated relay, a few expressed disappointment at organisation at a key part of the route.
Mail reader Paul Whitton sent us these pictures of an area of Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience which was used to park up sponsor trucks during the procession’s lunch break.
Paul said: “We got there early as advised to pick a prime spot to see the stage and the events which were taking place.
“It was obviously disappointing to see the torch route being used as a lorry park by a sponsors truck, and hundreds of spectators’ views were hampered by this.
“Did we turn up to see advertisements, or a special once-in-a-lifetime event?”
There was a similar complaint from Lorraine Gauntlett, who is planning on attending various Olympic events in London this summer, and was delighted to hear Hartlepool was included on the list of places the torch would pass through.
And she took three young relatives with her for the event, only to have their view blocked by the wagons.
Lorraine said: “We got to the Maritime Experience a good hour before the torch was due to arrive, as we had been advised by the council last week.
“We were right at the front with the children, they were really excited, and we were standing behind barriers which suggested that was where they wanted us to stand.
“Just as the torch was coming into view three vehicles parked right in front of us. We couldn’t see a thing, and by that stage everyone was in position so we couldn’t get anywhere near.
“I actually asked one of the drivers if they could park somewhere else, and he said he had to park there and couldn’t move for an hour.
“I was nearly in tears, it was such a disappointment.”
Lorraine, who lives in Sheridan Grove, added: “We have been building up for this for weeks, it was a real proud moment to know the torch was passing through our town and you could see by the turnout of people that it meant a lot to people.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I think it is a shame that bad planning and organisation spoiled it for a lot of people.”
Mail reader Mary Spensley travelled from Norton to see the event, and contacted us via email to reveal her own disappointment.
She said: “It was disappointing to say the least after taking my two young grandsons to see it.
“We didn’t get a chance.
“They were really upset. I feel Hartlepool Council should have realised the buses needed somewhere to park, or at least closed off the side where they were going to park.
“My grandsons may never get another chance to see it again.”
A spokesman for Hartlepool Borough Council said: “We are aware that the vehicle convoy did obscure the view for a small number of people who had assembled at Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience.
“However, there was ample time and opportunity for people to relocate and view the torch from the stage area or when it left the site after the lunchtime celebrations.”