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The BBC's Nick Higham
"Legacy says it doesn't have the same problems with the deal as Nomura"
 real 56k

Nomura executive, Peter Middleton
"If the government invite us to the table again.. we will go"
 real 28k

John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister
"It is not a happy situation"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 13 September, 2000, 10:22 GMT 11:22 UK
Dome could be knocked down
Dome by night
The bank planned to turn the Dome into a theme park
The Millennium Dome could be facing demolition following the collapse of the 105m sale of the attraction.

English Partnerships, which owns the land on which the Dome stands in Greenwich, east London, says the building could be demolished at the end of the year if that proved the best financial option for its future.

The warning came as the Millennium Commission met to discuss whether to go ahead with the 47m grant announced for the Dome last week.

The handout is dependant on the sale of the attraction.


We do take responsibility for what is happening and we need to ensure proper steps are now taken

Lord Falconer
As the government re-opened talks with the previously defeated bidder Legacy, Japanese bank Nomura hinted it could still be interested in the Dome.

Peter Middleton, of Nomura, told the BBC's Today programme that the company could reopen negotiations to take over the running of the Dome from the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) at a later date.

"We have said to the government if at some point David James has sorted out all of the uncertainty that surrounds NMEC's contracts at the moment then, out of courtesy, we will certainly listen to them and if there is a deal to be done we will do it," he said

Options open

Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, told the BBC's Today programme on Wednesday: "We will look at all the options in the best interests of the taxpayer."

Asked if he wished the Dome had never been built, Mr Prescott said: "No, I don't think so.

"At the end of the day people have gone to it, enjoyed it. It has been an event to celebrate the Millennium and now we have to decide what we are going to do with it."

Lord Falconer
Lord Falconer: I'm staying where I am
Last month the commission gave the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC), which runs the Dome, 43m as an advance payment on its expected sale.

Last week, it announced a further grant of 47m to cover the cost of closing the Dome and transferring it to Nomura.

So far it has handed over only 13m of that money, and on Wednesday the commission members will consider whether to release any more.

The Dome's new executive chairman, David James, and the minister responsible for the Dome, Lord Falconer, have both said that keeping the attraction open until the end of the year would prove less costly than closing it early.

Lord Falconer is also resisting fresh calls for his resignation following the collapse of the sale.

'Deep regret'

The Tories have renewed their calls for the minister to quit, saying that if he did not resign, he should be sacked.

Lord Falconer said he "deeply" regretted any government failures in managing the Dome project, but added that it was his responsibility to see the business through.

He told the BBC he had not offered his resignation to the prime minister, and he had not been asked for it.

"I think the right course of action is for me to stay where I am and deal with the problems in relation to the Dome," he said.

"We do take responsibility for what is happening and we need to ensure proper steps are now taken."

Nomura, which had wanted to turn the Dome into an amusement park, pulled out of its deal to buy it saying it had not been given full access to details of the attraction's finances.

NMEC said it believed Nomura's reasons were "without foundation".

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport said on Tuesday that the government regretted that Dome Europe had withdrawn its offer to buy the Dome, but was still firmly committed to the regeneration of the Greenwich peninsula.

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See also:

13 Sep 00 | Business
Nomura may rebid for Dome
12 Sep 00 | UK
Bank drops Dome bid
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