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Thursday, 15 June, 2000, 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK
Dome was days from bankruptcy
Millennium Dome
The Dome is falling short of its target of 12m visitors
The Millennium Dome was rescued from bankruptcy last month, it has emerged.

I made several attempts to persuade ministers that standing back from the Dome would be good for them as well as good for the Dome

Jennie Page
The extent of the attraction's troubles surfaced as the Dome's sacked chief executive Jennie Page placed part of the blame on its close association with politicians.

Ms Page was speaking to MPs on the Commons Culture Committee who have begun investigating the Dome.

Under questioning from MPs, she refused to acknowledge full responsibility for the failure of the Dome to meet its visitor number targets.

Jennie Page and Tony Blair
Jennie Page has spoken of fears for Dome's future
Ms Page, who was sacked in February once it became clear the Dome would not achieve the 11 million visitors it needed to make a profit, also refused to comment on the responsibility of other members of the New Millennium Experience Company.

When asked whether former British Airways chief Bob Ayling and NMEC board member Michael Grade should have resigned last February, Ms Page replied: "I think it would be invidious of me to comment on members of the board."

Bankrupt after five months

The Dome would have been made bankrupt without May's massive injection of 29m of National Lottery money, the NMEC has revealed.

The company is now planning to make 10m of cuts to avoid asking for any more lottery grants.

The NMEC revealed on Thursday that its executives had told the Millennium Commission that the company would have "become insolvent" on 22 May without a further grant. Bob Ayling resigned the next day.

Ms Page also blamed the public's mixed reception of the Dome on politicians. She told MPs: "There is no doubt in my mind that the project has been seen as political almost since its inception.

Dome 'a political project'

"NMEC was always associated with the [last Conservative and present Labour] governments and usually with significant people within the governments.

"I made several attempts to persuade ministers that standing back from the Dome would be good for them as well as good for the Dome."

She also said the government's decision to give free admission to a million school children had badly affected the Dome's finances.

The Dome's woes
Opening night queues
Sponsors paying late
Too much time spent organising the Jubilee Line
No-car rules hit visitor numbers
Close attention of politicians
Explaining the failure of the Dome to generate as much public goodwill as Tate Modern or the Millennium Bridge, Ms Page said: "There is a propensity to visit places which seem to be full of joy and interest, and which are by-and-large recommended.

"And we have seen with the Tate and the Millennium Bridge that people are interested to see them."

But she said: "There is a lot difference between walking across a bridge and going down to Greenwich and paying 57 for a ticket and committing a day to Dome."

"So people are investing a lot when they go to the Dome and they want to be very, very sure of what they are getting. It is not a casual decision to make, like walking into a free museum or walking across a bridge."

Representatives from three of the Dome's main sponsors - BT, Manpower and Boots also appeared before MPs.

They denied having anything to do with Ms Page's sacking and said they were now happy with the Dome's direction.

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See also:

05 Feb 00 | UK
The Dome's embattled dame
24 May 00 | UK
New man at the Dome
24 May 00 | UK
MPs demand Dome inquiry
23 May 00 | AudioVideo
Millennium Dome chief steps down
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