Hundreds miss out on Wandsworth's Olympics torch celebration tickets

Queues at libraries in Wandsworth snaked around the buildings

By Laura Staples

First published in Sport by , Senior Reporter

Hundreds of people were left disappointed yesterday when free tickets for the Olympic torch relay celebration were snapped up within minutes.

The tickets, only available to Wandsworth residents, were allocated to people on a first-come, first-served basis, at libraries between 7.30pm-8.30pm.

Queues of as many as 500 people snaked past Tooting Library, in Mitcham Road, and Balham Library, Ramsden Road.

The event is taking place in Tooting Bec Common next Monday evening, allowing people the chance to see the torch up close, as well as featuring performances from Rizzle Kicks and others.

Tickets in Balham Library were all gone within 40 minutes, with people being turned away, while those queuing in Tooting said they were left in the dark.

Fiona Wilkins, a communications worker, said: "The queue at Balham Library for torch ceremony tickets was winding its way around Waitrose car park and the security guard just told people they had no chance of tickets.

"Myself and about 500 people were still queuing. They only had 1,000 here. Absolute madness."

Laura Staples, 28, a journalist, of Balham, said there was chaos in the area as cars had to navigate around people queuing through Waitrose car park.

She said: "There must have been 500 people queuing in the car park. There were kids everywhere.

"Why on earth didn't the council see this coming? Why wasn't there a ballot? Wandsworth Council's Olympic department should be embarrassed by its appalling planning."

MP Sadiq Khan was also among people queuing in Tooting and tweeted: "In the queue for Olympic torch relay tickets at Tooting Library. Goes round the block. Hope all queuing get a ticket."

Liz Banner also said: "No tickets left for us at Tooting Library - at least at Balham they counted the queue and told people pointless waiting."

A spokesman for Wandsworth Council said: "The instructions we received from the police and LOCOG meant ticket numbers had to be limited and sadly this meant not everyone who wanted a ticket was able to get one.

"However, we did all we could to make the allocation as fair as possible and have ensured that thousands of Wandsworth residents will be able to attend this historic event."

The free tickets were available from libraries in Tooting, Balham, Wandsworth Town, Putney and Battersea.

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Comments (1)

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12:29pm Tue 17 Jul 12

kateybubbles says...

This was a ridiculous way to allocate tickets. I would have had to get to the library for 5pm to guarantee tickets. Anyone with responsibilities (ie a job or small children) simply couldn't have done this. We live just a few minutes from the common yet won't be able to take part. The whole thing was poorly publicised and organised. I am really disappointed. Surely a ballot would be fairer?
This was a ridiculous way to allocate tickets. I would have had to get to the library for 5pm to guarantee tickets. Anyone with responsibilities (ie a job or small children) simply couldn't have done this. We live just a few minutes from the common yet won't be able to take part. The whole thing was poorly publicised and organised. I am really disappointed. Surely a ballot would be fairer? kateybubbles
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