Arts: Millennium Dome's new setback as style guru resigns

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The Independent Online
The design guru of the controversial Millennium Dome project has resigned amid reports that some of his views were being rejected. Ian Burrell details the latest controversy to engulf Peter Mandelson's pet scheme.

It was revealed last night that Stephen Bayley had quit his post as consultant creative director just before Christmas after working on the pounds 750m project at Greenwich, south-east London, for six months.

The development comes after repeated disagreements over the attractions that will be contained within the Dome. Organisers had also scrapped plans for a spectacular show produced by Sir Cameron Mackintosh in an effort to keep down costs.

Mr Bayley, a founding director of Sir Terence Conran's Design Museum in London, was given the task of recruiting and briefing the design companies which will create the Dome's exhibitions.

He is thought to have earned up to pounds 40,000 for working three days a week on the project during the six months.

His critics said that while he brought flair and expertise to the task, he found it difficult to work as part of a team and was unhappy that his advice was rejected as often as it was accepted.

Mr Bayley had resigned once before, in October last year, but later withdrew his resignation.

His views on the Dome often provoked controversy. In one interview he described it as "extraordinarily quaint" and suggested that a huge tree- planting programme might have been more appropriate. In another, he suggested that Union flags should not feature in the Dome because they would set a "narrowly nationalistic" tone. His bosses later insisted that Union flags would be present.

In a statement last night, Jennie Page, chief executive of the New Millennium Experience company, applauded Mr Bayley's work.

"Stephen has contributed significantly to the process of briefing and bringing into contract the design companies now working on the exhibition attractions within the Dome," she said.

Mr Bayley, who may continue to work on the project on an ad hoc basis, said: "A great deal has been achieved and it is now appropriate to change our relationship to one of working on a task-by-task basis. I will continue to be a committed enthusiast for the Millennium Experience."

Before Christmas, a House of Commons select committee predicted that the Dome would prove "magnificent in conception and likely to be breathtaking in execution", but protested about a lack of information about its contents.

"From what we know so far, the Millennium Experience is not so much a journey through time as a journey into the unknown," the committee said.

Last week, Mr Mandelson, the Minister without Portfolio who has responsibility for the Dome, travelled to Disneyworld in Florida to pick up tips for the project.

The Government said there would be more information on the contents of the Dome, which will revolve around the theme of time, in the first quarter of this year.