By Dan Santy 10/05 Updated: 15/05 14:23
CHARGING people chosen to carry the Olympic flame for the privilege of keeping their torch has been branded shocking by a youth club leader.
Warwickshire Association of Youth Clubs chairman, William Clemmey, said he was surprised those who will carry the flame 300 metres during its Warwickshire legs would have to pay £215 if they wanted their torch as a souvenir.
And if they want a stand to put it on they will have to fork out a further £39.
Many of those picked to carry the torch through the county's towns are younger people who would struggle to afford the cost, according to Mr Clemmey, who called the arrangement 'a bit of a con'.
He said: "I was of course shocked to learn people carrying a torch would have to pay for the privilege of keeping it.
"It is outrageous young people who have achieved the honour of being asked to carry the Olympic torch will now be charged for the privilege of keeping it.
"This clearly sends mixed messages to these young people who have been encouraged by the Government to volunteer but will have to pay for the memory.
"We would never ask athletes to pay for their Olympic medals – so why penalise young volunteers? I feel it rather tarnishes the whole thing."
Mr Clemmey said some youth club members had taken to fund-raising to help them try and meet the costs of buying their torches.
Locog, the Olympics organiser, defended the charge, saying it was subsidising the full cost with each torch costing £495 to make.
In a statement, the London 2012 organising committee said the torches proved 'good value', with the price being one of the cheapest in recent Olympic flame relays, other than Beijing four years ago.
A Locog spokesman said: "We believe this sale offers good value for a best-of-British designed, engineered and manufactured limited edition product.
"Despite the high design specification of the torch, Locog wanted to make sure torches were affordable for all of the 8,000 torchbearers."
The torch will pass through the borough on Sunday July 2, after visiting Stratford and Warwick districts the previous day.
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