Council u-turn over Hackney Olympics tickets transparency row

Town hall bosses have been forced into an embarrassing u-turn this week after coming under fire for refusing to reveal how they will pay for 200 tickets to the Olympics.

Hackney Council is one of at least 12 London boroughs to snap up an offer from LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) to buy tickets for next year’s Games, despite a backlash from some taxpayers.

The council plans to spend around �27,000 on 200 coveted tickets to events such as the opening ceremony, athletics contests and football matches - and hand them to young sporting high achievers in Hackney.

It had resisted calls from the London Assembly to publish a register to show how the sought-after tickets would be allocated and paid for, sparking criticism from the assembly’s chairwoman.

Dee Doocey, who represents the Liberal Democrats in the assembly, told the Gazette: “Deals over Olympic tickets must not take place behind closed doors.

“Hackney Council must end their secrecy and explain clearly to local people how much they are planning to spend on Olympic tickets, why the council are buying them and who be picking up the bill.”

But spokeswoman for the council said this week that it would provide a register of the tickets after all and that the original refusal was likely to have been made in error.

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She said: “Hackney Council automatically publishes any public spending over �500 on our website, and we will publish the cost of tickets over the coming months. The money to pay for the tickets, approximately �27,000, comes from funding put aside in 2005 when London won the bid.”