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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 May, 2005, 12:27 GMT 13:27 UK
Action urged over London Eye row
London Eye
The London Eye is one of the capital's top attractions
Opposition parties have called for further government intervention in the London Eye rent dispute.

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 Tories and the Liberal Democrats say government ties to the SBC mean it has a duty to help quell the dispute.

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell met the SBC chairman on Friday and has already agreed to intervene in the dispute.

Ms Jowell, who stressed she will monitor the situation closely, has said: "I am absolutely determined that this does not escalate out of control.

The government needs to put pressure on the South Bank Centre
Theresa May
Shadow culture secretary

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

Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Theresa May, said the government has a duty to intervene in the matter because Mr Hollick was appointed by the government.

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.

Mrs May, who has said the situation could harm London's bid for the 2012 Olympic Games, told BBC News: "The government needs to put pressure on the South Bank Centre. Its chair was appointed by Tessa Jowell - there is a link."

'Ridiculous' rent?

She added: "The London Eye is an iconic edifice and it is a major attraction for London."

And Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on culture, media and sport, echoed these sentiments, adding: "I am in favour of the government leaning on them [the SBC]".

He added: "Hopefully everybody putting pressure on them will make them back down."

Mr Foster said the proposed rent increase was "ridiculous" and was akin to "ransom".

The London Eye and SBC have declined to comment on the issue in the past, 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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