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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 15:39 GMT
Sale of Dome 'mishandled'
Legacy bid
Legacy remains confident its proposal will succeed
The government has been criticised for "mishandling" the sale of the Dome by the attraction's former chief executive Pierre-Yves Gerbeau.

He wants ministers to reopen the bidding process for the sale of the Greenwich site.

Negotiations with the preferred bidder, Legacy, were due to end on 14 February but the government says the date is a guideline not a deadline.

Mr Gerbeau's call has been backed by the Conservatives, who want other potential investors allowed to re-enter the bidding process.

Legacy bid
Dome negotiations are at a key stage

Shadow environment secretary Archie Norman said: "It is transparently clear that the bidding process should be reopened".

Mr Gerbeau told BBC Radio 4's Today programme of his frustration that the deadline had arrived for an agreement between the government and Legacy without a contract being signed.

Mr Gerbeau said: "This is the last chance not to end up like British Rail - do a fast cheap deal and regret it later."

He wants to build a world-class visitor attraction which could attract a Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson fight or star attractions like Michael Jackson.

A Downing Street spokesman said the government would continue talking to Legacy "on an exclusive basis", despite the deadline.

Legacy, which has bid 125m for the site, announced this week that property developer Teesland Group has joined its consortium.

A government response on a likely course of action is due "within days".

Pierre-Yves Gerbeau
Pierre-Yves Gerbeau: Frustrated over bidding process

The Tories have accused the Environment Secretary John Prescott of botching negotiations over the Dome's future.

Mr Norman said: "From what little has been revealed in this furtive and secretive process, the Legacy deal would be bad value for taxpayers and bad value for regeneration".

Liberal Democrat Dome spokesman Norman Baker said the government should stick to its timetable or face "the prospect of an empty Dome come election day".

Legacy wants to turn the site into a hi-tech business centre, but Mr Gerbeau said his group would be prepared to rent the dome if the government decided to sell off land around the site.

He said his group was in talks with the Ministry of Sound and the Japanese bank Nomura and was prepared to talk to other property developers.

A decision on the Dome's future will be needed before the planned auction of its contents, scheduled for the end of this month.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Martin Shankleman
"Even fans of the Dome's structure admit that demolition would make the most sense"
The BBC's Nick Higham
"The opposition say the government isn't getting the best possible deal"

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