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Wednesday, 13 December, 2000, 00:49 GMT
Millennium Commission admits mistakes
Millennium Dome
The Dome received 500m of the Commission's budget
The Millennium Commission has admitted that the Millennium Dome has "fallen short" of its aspirations.

The Commission, chaired by the Culture Secretary Chris Smith, has given the Dome a quarter of its 2bn budget which is raised by the National Lottery.

On Tuesday the attraction welcomed its six millionth visitor, less than three weeks before it closes for good. Original estimates had put visitor figures at 12m.

Not everything has been as successful as we hoped

Millennium Commission
In an open letter to the public the commission members admitted that they had "made mistakes" but insisted that if they had not taken risks the UK's millennium projects would have been "safe but dull".

The government is backing the sale of the Dome to Legacy PLC which plans to turn it into a high-tech business park.

The troubled attraction in Greenwich, south east London, has so far cost 628m of lottery money - 229m more than originally forecast.

Another project, the Millennium Bridge over the River Thames in London, has remained closed since its opening week when it was found to sway alarmingly as large numbers crossed.


The Millennium Commission's open letter said: "not everything has been as successful as we hoped".

But it continued: "We were right to take risks. If we had not taken risks we could not have supported the innovative and the ambitious ideas which were brought to us.

Gateshead bridge
The tilting bridge in Gateshead is one of the latest millennium projects
"A safer programme would have been dull and much less than the country deserves."

The commission stressed that the majority of the six million visitors to the Dome said they had enjoyed the experience and that the project had helped regenerate the largest derelict site in southern England.

"We aimed high and must take our share of responsibility but we ask that people give due credit to the Dome's achievements."

It added: "We do not pretend that we have not made mistakes, but we have learned from them and we continue to work with all our projects to ensure that they become successful in the long term even if the early days are difficult."

Regional projects

The commission, which also includes former Northern Ireland secretary Mo Mowlam, ex-Tory party deputy leader Michael Heseltine and children's TV personality Floella Benjamin, was in charge of deciding how to spend 2bn of National Lottery cash.

As well as the Dome, this included events to mark the millennium and large and small scale projects.

Some of these were a new bridge in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, which "blinks" to allow marine traffic to pass, and the giant "climate domes" of the Eden Project in Cornwall.

The commission said the regional spread of projects had been good and that Scotland Wales and Northern Ireland had "done better" than England in terms of projects per head of population.

"Contrary to popular opinion, London has not received a disproportionate amount of funds and the South East has done least well," it said.

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See also:

23 Nov 00 | UK
Dome to the digerati
20 Nov 00 | Business
Legacy given Dome go-ahead
09 Nov 00 | UK
'Ill-fated' Dome condemned
03 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
UK's 'Garden of Eden' takes root
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