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Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Flame of Hope snuffed out
Flame of Hope, Birmingham
The torch was a gift to the people of Birmingham
An eternal flame, lit as a torch for world peace at the start of the millennium, has been extinguished and may never be re-kindled.

The Flame of Hope in Birmingham's Centenary Square was the idea of a group of churches across the city - Birmingham Churches Together.

The group donated the flame at a cost of 72,000 and it was unveiled by Sir Cliff Richard to mark the millennium.

Birmingham City Council took over the funding from the group at the beginning of 2001 but it says it cannot afford to pay the 12,000 a year running costs.

'Christian gift'

It is now thinking of moving the flame, which sits on top of a revolving globe, to another site.

Reverend Mark Fisher, from Birmingham Churches Together, said he was "disappointed" by the council's decision.

Reverend Mark Fisher, Birmingham Churches Together
Rev Mark Fisher: "Rather disappointed"

He told the BBC's Midlands Today programme: "When the flame was given to this city for the millennium, obviously it was not for an eternity, we realised it had a lifespan but it was something other than just the excitement and dreams of one year.

"It is a symbol of something that is within the people of the city, a gift from the Christian community which is a significant part of the city's community."

However reaction from the people of Birmingham is mixed.

Globe motion

One man said: "The money would be better spent than providing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in the greenhouse effect surely?"

While another commented: "I think it's a nice thing to have burning. It represents something that's going to keep going."

Birmingham City Council says it cannot afford the cost of keeping the flame burning.

However, the council says in the short term, even though the flame's not there, it may start the generators to set the globe back in motion.


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18 Sep 01 | UK
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