Thousands of people lined the streets to welcome the Olympic Torch to St Albans in July.

Union flags, London 2012 bunting and banners decorated fences and railings all along the Hatfield Road route.

The predicted downpours held off for most of the afternoon and an estimated 35,000 people looked on as 14 torchbearers carried the iconic flame.

81-year-old John Eastwell, who was nominated to carry the torch by Sports England, said: “The crowd was just fantastic. Even the bus ride was amazing. Everyone was carried away by the size of the crowd.

“Everyone was waving – it was overwhelming. We couldn’t have imagined what it would be like. St Albans did us proud.”

Thirty-four councillors voted for the motion to remove prayers from the agenda, outnumbering the 13 who voted against the change.

Prayers are now held before meetings begin, and appear on the council summons. St Albans was a litter of pink as thousands of runners raised money for Cancer Research in the Race for Life run.

However many runners were left outraged after receiving car parking tickets while taking part in the charity event.

After jubilantly crossing the finishing line, participants and supporters who had parked on double yellow lines along the High Street and grass verges on Bluehouse Hill, returned to their vehicles to find they had been fined.

Lisa Hance, 44, who came along to support her sister-in-law and niece said: “Me and my husband pulled up to drop my sister-in-law off and saw around 30 cars parked on the grass verges with two wardens going along handing out tickets.

“When you see something like that it really does leave a bad taste in your mouth.

“It is disgraceful and the council should have waived parking fines for that day. I would like to see them give the fine money to Cancer Research instead of pocketing it for themselves.”

Three men from St Albans, two of them brothers, accused of beating a friend to death and dumping his body in a muddy layby, were found guilty of murder and jailed for a total of at least 51 years.

Anthony Cross, 31, of Green Lane, formerly of Longlands, Hemel Hempstead, his brother Joseph, 27, of Newgate Close, Jersey Farm, and their friend Michael Taylor, 27, of Bricket Road, but who lived with Joseph at the time, all denied murdering Mohim Miah, 29, of The Broadway, Herne Bay, Kent, on November 18 last year.

Judge Christopher Ball QC said Anthony, who he described as the most culpable, would have to serve a minimum of 19 years before he would be eligible for parole.

He gave Joseph a minimum term of 17 years and Taylor 15 years. The five-week trial heard that Mohim, who had returned to his home city of St Albans to visit, was savagely beaten up in Joseph’s flat after a day of drinking and taking crack cocaine.

His bloodied and bruised body, with 36 separate injuries, was taken to Ferrers Lane, Nomansland, Wheathampstead, and dumped.

Sentencing them, Judge Ball called it a “savage multi-handed attack” on a defenceless man. He said: “What lay behind the events which led to his death was a completely selfish, self-obsessed binge of drink and drugs.”