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Programme highlights Thursday, 15 February, 2001, 14:01 GMT
Dome sale open again
dome
The Dome has become an interminable political headache
After weeks of speculation the government announced on Thursday that bidding for the Dome is to be thrown open to other buyers.

Questions have been raised about the nature of the preferred bidder, Legacy's financial backing, the lack of any confirmed tenants for its proposed Knowledge Park, and the suggestion that the consortium might be more interested in exploiting the residential land on the Greenwich site.

PY Gerbeau
Gerbeau: Wants to run an entertainment complex
Critics have also pointed out that Robert Bourne, who leads the bid, is a strong Labour supporter.

Legacy can continue to negotiate, but could now face a new challenge, perhaps from the Dome's former Chief Executive, Pierres-Yves Gerbeau, who said this week that he was ready to mount a bid if the opportunity arose.

Competing bid

The BBC's political correspondent, Mark Mardell said the move may have been designed to "call the bluff" of those, such as PY Gerbeau, who claimed they were being sidelined by the process.

Former Dome minister Lord Falconer
Falconer: Legacy failed prove they had confirmed tenants
But the decision to withdraw preferred bidder status from Legacy is obviously good news for anyone else interested in the Dome.

Mr Gerbeau welcomed the reopening of the bidding process - days after he criticised the government for its "stunning incompetence" in handling the sale of the site.

He wants to continue running the building as a visitor attraction in a consortium involving the Ministry of Sound nightclub.

"This is very exciting news," he said. "We have the business plan to run the Dome and the creative vision to make it a success.

"We will now go forward with putting the backers together to rent or buy the Dome."

'Very disappointed'

The response from Legacy was, unsurprisingly, one of dismay. A spokesman said:


The Government said we failed to meet the terms of the preferred bidder terms - that's simply not true

Legacy statement
"We are very disappointed. This is an extraordinary decision and we just can't understand it.

"The Government have said we've failed to meet the terms of the preferred bidder terms. That's simply not true. We met the terms and exceeded them.

"We are obviously now going to have to give serious consideration as to whether we want to remain part of the process."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Former Dome Chief Executive, PY Gerbeau
"This is exciting news"
'Dome minister' Lord Falconer
"We won't be rushed into a decision"
Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, Andrew Lansley
"Lord Falconer should resign"
Links to more Programme highlights stories are at the foot of the page.


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