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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 12:59 GMT 13:59 UK
Council's 95,000 spend condemned
The 02 Arena -  photo by Simon Kreitem
The corporate suite at the O2 holds 15 seats
The decision by Greenwich Council to spend 95,000 on a corporate suite at the revamped Millennium Dome has been criticised by local Conservatives.

Re-named the O2, the complex reopens as an entertainment venue on Sunday.

The local Conservative Party says the move is the wrong use of taxpayers' money and comes at a time when 20m of cuts are being made.

But Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts says the suite will be used to reward staff and community groups.

It's not something I think the taxpayers are going to want him to be doing
Spencer Drury, Greenwich Conservatives

A Greenwich Council spokesperson said the purchase of the corporate suite formed part of the Council's work to ensure local residents had access to the O2.

He also said the council had worked out a way to recoup much of the expense by selling back seats for some events to the revenue which would reduce the total outlay and claimed there would not any impact on council budgets.

Cllr Roberts said: "The average cost of the ticket in the box, when you work it out, is about 42.00 per seat over the year.

"What we will do, certainly for the most significant and expensive concerts like the Barbara Streisand ones where the tickets are 500 is that we will sell that box back to AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group) and on three nights alone of Barbara Streisand that will recoup 22,500."

But Tory opposition leader for Greenwich, Cllr Spencer Drury, told BBC London 94.9FM he did not think that taxpayers would agree.

Taxpayers' money

"The initial cost, the budget for it is 95,000, and they (the council) might be able to reduce that by selling some of it back, but frankly I'm against it on principle. It's the wrong use of taxpayers' money," he said.

The corporate suite, which can also be used for day-to-day meetings, contains 15 seats.

The lease is for one year, starting from 23 June 2007, and will be reviewed by councillors after nine months before a decision is taken on whether to renew it.

The all-party Scrutiny Panel approved the decision to purchase the suite on 18 June.

The O2, a 20,000-seater auditorium, will host concerts and sporting events.

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