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The BBC's John McIntyre
"Constant frustration for visitors"
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The BBC's Torin Douglas
"January was always a slow month for visitor attractions"
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Saturday, 5 February, 2000, 22:35 GMT
Dome chief resigns

Jennie Page: Began work on Dome in 1996


Jennie Page has resigned as chief of the Millennium Dome, and her job is said to have been taken by a Frenchman from Disneyland Paris.

A source inside the New Millennium Experience Company said it had appointed Pierre-Yves Gerbeau to take over as chief executive.

Mr Gerbeau was credited with turning around the Disneyland Paris operation after it experienced a problematic launch.

The Dome's attractions have failed to pull the crowds
The resignation came after figures released on Friday showed just 320,000 people visited the Millennium Dome in its first month - roughly 11,000 a day.

A senior source at the NMEC said 34-year-old Mr Gerbeau was vice-president of the parks operation at Disney.

"He's considered to be one of the key figures who turned around Euro Disney," he added.

"He was in charge of 2,000 full-time employees and in charge of 40 attractions within the theme park.

"Jennie Page did a phenomenal job in getting the Dome delivered on time, on budget, without a penny from the taxpayer.

"No one's in any doubt that she will be going to do a very big job elsewhere."


The Dome is made up of several zones
The Dome, based in Greenwich, London, has been plagued by media criticism and cash-flow problems since it opened with a chaotic opening night on Millennium Eve.

Earlier this week there were reported to have been angry meetings between NMEC executives and sponsors of the troubled North Greenwich attraction.

Employment group Manpower - which has been vocal in its criticism of the project and sponsors one of the Dome's 14 zones - demanded changes to the management team.

Its request appeared to have been dismissed at the time, but Minister for the Dome Lord Falconer was understood to have had a lengthy meeting with Ms Page mid-week.

But reports that Mr Blair had backed a move to sack Ms Page were dismissed by Downing Street officials who inisted the matter was in the hands of the New Millennium Experience Company.

Some companies have withheld all or part of their multi-million pound sponsorship until the Dome is on a more solid footing, concerned that negative publicity and the project's financial troubles could damage their reputations.

Cash injection

Ms Page was placed in charge of the Millennium Dome in 1996, and was contracted to complete her task in 2001.

There was no official comment from the New Millennium Experience Company but a senior source at the company confirmed Ms Page had resigned from the 150,000-a-year post.

The company this week applied to the Millennium Commission for a multi-million pound cash injection to cover its running costs.

Ms Page, 55, a former chief executive of English Heritage, was due to receive a 200,000 performance-related bonus for successful completion of the project.

Body Zone queues Long queues plagued the Dome in early January
Liberal Democrat Dome spokesman Norman Baker said: "This is not entirely surprising and confirms that the Dome's performance in January was well-below expectation.

"Jennie Page's departure provides the opportunity for a new start, but the Dome now needs a major relaunch and some external professional input."

Shadow culture secretary Peter Ainsworth said the blame for the Dome's difficulties should be placed firmly on the government's shoulders.

"It is political interference that has caused the problems of the Dome and not the incompetence of officials," he said.

"Ministers are responsible for the problems at the Dome and it is wrong to shift the blame to those who cannot answer for themselves."

The NMEC is expected to make a formal announcement about the new appointment on Monday.

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See also:
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