Big screen fails to pull in crowds

12-679    Un-announced and hardly used large Olympic Screen at Camelot Rugby Club, Hemel Hempstead.
12-679 Un-announced and hardly used large Olympic Screen at Camelot Rugby Club, Hemel Hempstead.

BOROUGH bosses have been lambasted for spending £8,000 of taxpayers’ cash on a big screen to provide open-air coverage of the Olympics – that no-one is watching.

The giant screen in a playing field off Chaulden Lane at Camelot Rugby Club broadcasts from noon until 10pm every day.

But it has been playing to a largely absent audience because of a lack of publicity.

Hemel Hempstead Labour Party chairman Alan Olive said: “Hemel did us proud when the town came out for the Torch Relay.

“It is utterly absurd that the council is paying thousand of pounds to screen the Olympics and keeping it a secret.

“There is clearly an issue of competence here.”

The screen arrived the day after the opening ceremony and will continue broadcasting until the end of the Games in mid August.

However, despite paying for the screen council bosses insist it is up to the rugby club to promote it.

Toni Masser, director of facilities at the club, said they had approached the council to provide the screen as part of efforts to mark the Olympics.

He said between 150 and 200 people visited the screen on the opening weekend but numbers had dropped off.

“It’s not been heavily advertised,” he said. “I thought it would be advertised an awful lot better.

“It’s the beginning stages. During the day people are at work. The idea is for families to come down and have a picnic.

“We’re trying to do something for the local community. Fingers crossed it will get busier as the Olympics go on.”

Dacorum Borough Council said in a statement: “We have provided around £15,000 funding to clubs and communities across Dacorum towards a variety of events to celebrate over the Olympics.

“£8,000 of this was towards a big screen for Camelot Rugby Club’s Olympic events. The events are organised and promoted by the individual organisations.”