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Monday, 13 November, 2000, 09:38 GMT
The Dome: Who is to blame?
The Dome: Who is to blame? Send us your comments now
The Millennium Dome has been condemned as a risky, mis-managed and financially weak project by the government's spending watchdog.

The National Audit Office says in a report that visitor numbers were greatly over-estimated and that Dome operators lacked the experience to run this type of attraction.

The Dome has so far cost 628m of lottery money - 229m more than originally forecast.

So who should take ultimate responsibility for the ill fated Dome? Should Dome minister Lord Falconer resign? Do you think he is being made a scapegoat?


A friend from Hong Kong went with her family to the Dome

Andy, UK
A friend from Hong Kong went with her family to the Dome. She told me that even her children found the contents "simple" and "childish". Those words are from the mouths of an 8-year old! Clearly, the only people to blame are all the politicians who cannot waste enough of our money in order to further their careers and who think that we are too naive to notice what is going on. It is good that their grand project has failed on this occasion. At least they will think twice before throwing our money away.
Andy, UK

Hey, at least you got your Dome. Over here, politicians would have spent that much (probably borrowed from your own good selves) just talking about it.
Graham Bell, Brazil

At the end of the year, we should force Mandelson to buy it.
Mark B, UK

Filled with meaningless drivel !!

Gary, UK
The structure of the Dome itself is a feat of engineering. Unfortunately it was filled with meaningless drivel !!
Gary, UK

Peter Mandelson hoped to outdo his ancestor Morrison's success with the Festival of Britain. A spin doctor might have had the wit to realise that it is much more difficult now, because the kind of people who did not have a television then are now addicted to their favourite soaps. Even Disney finds the live entertainment business a struggle in Europe.
David de Vere Webb, UK

I have been astounded by some of the hypocrisy surrounding the Dome. On Any Questions (R4), Barbara Roche MP backed Lord Falconer, saying that incompetent ministers should not resign. Yet on the very next topic, she argued that incompetent teachers should be sacked. Why the double standard?
Andy Bannister, UK

Badly planned by the Conservatives and badly managed by Labour - I did enjoy visiting it. The Dome was never planned as a profit making exercise. However it appears to have lost more money than expected. The best use of the land would be to expand the London Docklands Financial District south of the river.
John Ley, London, England

The Queen looked upset holding hands with the PM on New Year's eve last year. Maybe it was not the odd protocol that disturbed her, maybe she just didn't want to be associated with it.
Jon, UK

Clearly the blame should go to the Prime Minister

William E. Bennett, USA
Clearly the blame should go to the Prime Minister, since the captain of the ship carries the "can". A project of this magnitude should not be trusted to a poltical appointee or any person not qualified to fully understand and control the project. This is akin to railways being run by business administrators instead of people with a railway background
William E. Bennett, USA

Since the Dome was paid for by the mathematically challenged in for the form of the avoidable Lottery tax, I really don't care that much about how much it has/ will cost. The only sad thing about the whole Dome episode is seeing so much political meglomania in so many people in positions of power.
Martin, England

It is Labour that has presided over the financial fiasco that is the Dome but nobody can say that the Tories would have done any better.
Pablo, UK

Nothing can be written off as a total failure when so many people have visited

Guy Chapman, UK
The same things were said of the Dome as were said of the Festival of Britain and its Skylon. The reason the Dome is perceived as a failure (except, it has to be said, by people who have been there), is that once the decision was made the press got behind the Festival, but they consistently bashed the Dome. Whether this is because its primary sponsor was "the man who brought Thatcher down" is hard to prove, but I suspect that this is the root of press animosity to the project. One thing's for sure: nothing can be written off as a total failure when so many people have visited despite the vilification of the attraction by almost the entire printed media. The Dome guys must be doing something right, after all.
Guy Chapman, UK

In business a new CEO is responsible for all decisions he/ she makes under their leadership. If their predecessor made a bad decision, it is their responsibility to reverse it. Taking this analogy Labour should stop trying to pass blame. They should have either stopped it when they got control, or got it right. They did neither.
Nick, UK

Where did the money come from - the Lottery. So shouldn't some of the blame go to everyone who poured in their cash in the pursuit of greed, knowing that the Dome was a major recipient, when they could all have sent that money to genuine "good causes" instead?
Julian Hayward, UK

Who knows, maybe in a few years time the building can recoup its losses

Sam Spanners, UK
The economists and politicians got it wrong, not the architects. We are all too cynical and quick to jump on the project's weaknesses...No-one's stood up to give credit to the building (including the Jubilee line renovation). OK, the content this year is mostly dull, and the finances a disgrace. But with a little more thought and less negativity, these can be rectified. And who knows, maybe in a few years time the building can recoup its losses? Politicians should stick to the country's more important issues, and leave the entertaining to the people.
Sam Spanners, UK

The Government says that it has been the biggest attraction in Britain. It has to be pointed out though that if everyone who visited a rusty old gas works in Greenwich was given fifty quid it would have been even more popular and on current figures a lot cheaper. The plug should have been pulled on this waste of money months ago. The sight of Lord Falconer sitting there saying he wishes to carry on is a laugh. The mistakes were on his watch, someone new is needed to sort out his mess.
Kevin Foster, UK

I have been to the Dome and confess to have enjoyed it. However I cannot see how it cost 1 billion pound to make. If it cost 100m I would be surprised and in fact this is the figure that the Japanese takeover bid offered. This means that somewhere 900m has been spent on intangible things which I find very hard to believe and if this is so I believe that some of the recipients should pay back part of this money. I know this will never happen.
Paul Carter, England

Why blame anybody. The whole Lottery Millennium fund was dedicated to pointless projects which all needed extra funding. All that has happened is that we've had fewer of them. The dome just happened to be the most expensive. All of this money was never going to be spent on anything else (like hospitals) and I don't remember anybody making a lot of fuss at the time. Also the Dome wasn't a complete flop. I think it's less of "a National disgrace and more a "Well we won't do that again". There are more important things in life to worry about.
Pete B, UK

The essential failure was to fill the Dome with tat and tacky politically correct exhibits with no special relevance to the year 2000

Pete, UK
The much quoted 12m estimate of visitors was always ludicrous being about one quarter of the whole population of England. It was surely mentioned to justify the scale of the project. A well-run business would have had several projections. But the essential failure was to fill the Dome with tat and tacky politically correct exhibits with no special relevance to the year 2000. So the word got round 'Don't waste your time and money (try the Tate Modern instead)'.
Pete, UK

To blame or not to blame, that is indeed the question. I guess we are all to blame to some degree or other. The presiding government for the foolhardy project and the general public for not supporting the spirit of the event. The effort was designed to celebrate the millennium, a dubious cause indeed, but a folly nevertheless and it was generally publicly believed to be so from the beginning.
James, England

Here we go again, looking for someone to blame. WE, the public are to blame because we allowed it to happen. We allowed our elected representatives, whether Labour or Tory to raid the lottery fund, our tax pool and WE didn't put a stop to it. I haven't written one letter of complaint to the government, so I got what I deserved. When will we stop looking for someone else to pin the blame on and start taking our responsibilities as citizens as seriously as we demand our rights?
Bob, UK

I'm not sure who is to blame, but I find it so offensive that any modern government could see it as their role to run a tourist attraction using public money! Labour has taken public funds and completely wasted it! This is the key issue, a government should govern, not try to run a business. What century do this people think they are living in?
Gordon, London

Get down to London, whatever the cost, because there's no day out like it

Tim Miller, England
To me, the only group of people who should be blamed for the failure of the Dome are all those who have been quick to criticise it without actually going. It seems as if the media was against it from the start and unfortunately, what the Sun says, 2 million readers do. I urge anyone who hasn't been to make the most of the remaining one and a half months. Get down to London, whatever the cost, because there's no day out like it.
Tim Miller, England

Labour has to take the blame. They decided to continue with the Dome and ultimately had control over it. The talk of generating jobs in Greenwich is garbage - 900,000,000 to create 30,000 jobs works out at 30,000 per job created - enough to keep the average worker in salary for almost two years!
Karl Peters, UK

In Scotland, the entire board of the exam authority, the SQA, resigned after a damning report. The head of the Scottish Tourist Board had to resign in similar circumstances. However, when it came to a damning report about the new Scottish Parliament building, the presiding politicians DID NOT resign. So does anyone expect Lord Falconer to resign over the Dome? Of course not, POLITICIANS ARE NEVER TO BLAME.
Mac, Scotland

How many people are joining the Dome debate without actually having been? I visited recently, thought it was pretty good and didn't see anyone looking like they were having a dreadful time. If the media hadn't decided from the start that they were going to pan it, I'm absolutely sure millions more would have visited, there would have been no financial crisis and there wouldn't be the current witch-hunt.
Julian Goode, UK

This ignoble lord should go

J. Lloyd, UK
I think that overall responsibility for the Dome fiasco lies with the present Government. They made decisions about the content and this seem to be the reason why people don't want to pay to go to the Dome. In addition, prior to December 31st last year, I don't recall Blair describing the Dome as being partly a creation of the Major Government. In any event, as the report makes clear, the Dome needs urgent relief from the presence of Lord Falconer. This ignoble lord should go.
J. Lloyd, UK

Both the Tories and Labour are to blame. It was a bad (Tory) idea in the first place and should have been dropped by Labour as soon as they won the 1997 general election. I don't think Lord Falconer should be made a scapegoat. What about Mandy Mandelson, who conveniently jumped ship when it looked like it was going wrong or Michael Hesletine whose idea it was in the first place? How about turning the Dome into a cycling velodrome, so we can get more medals to go with the ones won at the recent Olympics and World Championships.
Peter, UK

Why not kill 3 birds with one stone: Refit the Dome as the new British Houses of Parliament, move the government and associated civil servants in (giving them the modern facilities and space they constantly crave), turn the Palace of Westminster into a museum dedicated the history of government, sell off a whole swathe of ancillary buildings currently used by MPs to the highest bidders (thus increasing the amount of available office space in the capital) .. Go on give it a go!
Stuart Hudson, England

If it was really felt that we needed a grand millennium project, it should have been built somewhere accessible to all regions of the UK

Peter Simmonds, UK
I'm an 'old' Labour supporter, and so my flesh crawls at the hypocrisy of Hague in daring to criticise something that was after all his party's idea in the first place. If it was really felt that we needed a grand millennium project, it should have been built somewhere accessible to all regions of the UK (or possible several smaller regional projects) rather than concentrate on the soft southerners and their namby-pamby ideas.
Peter Simmonds, UK

We all know it was a huge waste of money, but I think we could get more mileage out of the Dome by looking to put it to some better use... a shelter for the homeless of London would be a start.
Steve Moore, UK

Just think what that 900 million plus could have done for the NHS, education and public transport. Allowing future citizens of Great Britain to grow up healthy, intelligent and able to travel to and from school and work safely would have been a much more fitting celebration of the millennium!
Mark Roberts, England

If the Dome had been a financial success, would Labour have said that it was all due to the Conservatives?

John Swift, England
Jack Cunningham for Labour and his Conservative opposite were trying to pass the blame like a couple of school kids. If the Dome had been a financial success, would Labour have said that it was all due to the Conservatives, and the Conservatives said that Labour was responsible for the success? If you believe that, then the moon must be made of green cheese.
John Swift, England

To regenerate the environment, economy, infrastructure, and non-dependant culture of the North Greenwich hinterland would have cost billions and billions of public money. It seems like the government has got this for a snip at GPB 1bn. It is also Britain's most popular [pay] attraction.
Paul, UK

Those responsible for the Dome's failure are those who make it fail - the incompetent politicians (of both sides), management, and journalists - who think it's clever to do something down, but are incapable of building something up, or who try to make a celebration commercially viable. My family went and we had a great time. On that day, we made the Dome a success! P.S. I agree with Dawn Staff - keep it for a sports college!
Clive Mitchell, Wales

Who in their right mind would build a structure costing many millions of pounds, which at the end of a predictable loss-making year is to be torn down. I think the politicians got a little over-enthusiastic and forgot whose money they were spending.
Seb Hardman, England

It was funded by the lottery (money that was essentially provided by gambling!)

Sam Clayton, UK
What blame?
It was funded by the lottery (money that was essentially provided by gambling!) and although it cost more than strictly necessary and attracted less people than expected, it is still a great attraction that more than rivals any other tourist venue in the UK.
So who to blame? The organisation that locked the media out on New Year's Eve, and the media themselves for not supporting what could have been a great project.
Sam Clayton, UK

Governments are notoriously bad at running commercial ventures, which is what the Dome is (was). They should create the vision, but then turn the whole thing over to the experts. In this instance, a call to Disney or Universal in the US, with an offer to let them build and operate the Dome, I am sure would have shown totally different results. (Those who have visited Disney and Universal will know what I am talking about) The Government could have taken the credit and everyone would be happy!
Charles Porter, USA

It is the Labour Government that has presided over the financial fiasco that is the Dome

Paul Jones, England
Yes it was the Tory party who initiated the Dome project. But it is the Labour Government that has presided over the financial fiasco that is the Dome so they must be blamed for not taking the steps needed to make it a success and for wasting vast amounts of money on it.
Paul Jones, England

If the Tory party and the media had not damned the Dome so much maybe more people would have visited. We went in a party ranging from 78 years to 8 and had a fantastic day. All the staff were professional and obviously well-trained.
Jayne Sarjant, UK

The people who should take responsibility are those who would have claimed the credit for its success.
Richard N, UK

It is important that those mainly responsible for the Dome fiasco should not be able to hide behind other people, and let them take the blame. The main proponents, as I understand it, were Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson, both of whom are quite adept at distancing themselves from criticism.
The decision to commit huge sums of taxpayers money to shaky enterprises such as this, is certainly no recommendation for their administrative abilities.
John, USA

Too often the National Lottery charity fund has been abused under this government

Jen, UK
Labour are to blame as they actually went a head with the project. The country was never behind it and the regions especially saw it as yet more aid for "little England" (AKA London). New Labour would have been all to willing to bask in its glory, so I think they should come clean and from their own personal finances repay the cost of the fiasco to the taxpayer and to the National Lottery charitable fund. Too often the National Lottery charity fund has been abused under this government.
Jen, UK

While Falconer should go, he shouldn't take sole responsibility for this fiasco. After the 1997 election, there were wise voices within New Labour who advised that this project should be dumped, but no, Blair, Mandelson and the rest of the crowd who thought image was everything insisted that it go ahead. Having maintained from the very start that this was a ridiculous waste of money in a country starved of investment in public services, I'm not pleased at being proved right, I'm gutted!
E George, UK

Of course Falconer should resign, but since he is a lawyer he won't, he doesn't understand what responsibility means in the real world. To Charlie it's all a bit of fun and the money is not important, like his mate in Downing St. he lives in an unreal world.
Ken Jones, Spain

It was a political play thing rather than a lasting memorial to the Millennium

Al, UK
The Dome was doomed from the outset, as it was a political play thing rather than a lasting memorial to the Millennium. All politicians of all political persuasions seem to have been in favour of this vanity project, and have wasted vast amounts of money trying to be good at something they are totally unsuited for.
Al, UK

To some it seems a waste of money - what would be a waste is if it is pulled down. Let it be turned into an Olympic sized swimming pool plus other sports' training facility - After the Olympics, and hearing the comments from the swimmers, it was apparent that such a facility is required. And the setting is ideal! The minister is being made a scapegoat in one sense - but right at the outset it should have been made into a millennium sport stadium.
Dawn Staff, UK

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09 Nov 00 | UK
'Ill-fated' Dome condemned
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