Dome job cuts `not linked to slow sales'

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The Independent Online
MILLENNIUM DOME organisers admitted yesterday that the number of staff selling tickets had been reduced but denied the move was linked to slow sales.

Thirty of the 136 staff at the Manchester ticket hotline centre have left without being replaced, the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) said yesterday. But a spokesman denied reports that 150 out of 200 had been made redundant after waiting up to three hours between calls.

"No one has been sacked and those who have left have done so because they wanted to leave," said the spokesman. "Reports that there were 200 staff there are completely distorted. There are now 106 people working in the Manchester centre, which has fallen from 136. Those people left for a variety of reasons - either the work didn't suit them or they were not very good - but they were not asked to leave because tickets are not selling.

"We have sold more than one million tickets and we are well placed to meet our target of 12 million in the first year."

He added that the second call centre in Camden, north London, which deals with the travel trade, had recently expanded its staff from 10 to 14.

When tickets first went on sale in September, NMEC said it would not release sales figures in advance, but a series of stories about slow sales last week prompted it to break that policy. So far, only tickets for the first three months of next year are on sale, and the spokesman said it was expected that, once the Dome was open, and people heard more about exactly what was inside, then more tickets would sell.

The Queen will officially open the Dome on 31 December at a party attended by 10,000 people. It will then be open to the public throughout 2000, starting on 1 January.