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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 14:17 GMT 15:17 UK
Jowell steps in to London Eye row
London Eye
The London Eye is one of the capital's top attractions
Culture secretary Tessa Jowell is to meet the company that could force the London Eye to close after serving its owners with an eviction notice.

The wheel's landlords, the South Bank Centre (SBC), want to increase the rent by 1,500%. If it is not paid by 1 July, they say the Eye will have to go.

The Conservative Party has said if the Eye goes it will affect London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Ms Jowell will talk to SBC's chairman, Labour peer Clive Hollick, on Friday.

She said she will monitor the situation closely, adding: "I am absolutely determined that this does not escalate out of control.

The issuing of an eviction notice by the SBC is a step too far
Shadow culture secretary Theresa May

"Both sides need to settle this matter responsibly, and do so on the basis of facts, not spin. "

SBC are understood to want to increase the annual rent for the British Airways-run London landmark from 65,000 a year to 1m.

Part of its support structure is on Jubilee Gardens, which was given to the SBC for 1 when the Greater London Council was broken up.

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Theresa May, said the situation could harm London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

"The issuing of an eviction notice by the SBC is a step too far," she said.

'Absolutely unacceptable'

"The Eye is a prominent feature in all of the London Olympic bid promotional activities, yet at the same time its future is in jeopardy. What sort of message does this send to the Olympic committee?

"It is absolutely unacceptable that it's future should be put at risk due to a rent increase of more than 1500%."

The London Eye and SBC have declined to comment, simply saying they are in negotiations.

Opened in 2000 on the south bank of the Thames opposite Westminster, the Eye has proved a huge hit and has become a symbol of London.

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