Millions roll in for the Millennium makers

Chris Blackhurst on the South-east's biggest cash cow

Mark McCormack and Jennifer Page are not the only people cashing in on Peter Mandelson's great millennium extravaganza. Building firms, architects and other advisers stand to make millions of pounds in fees from the part-publicly-funded celebration at Greenwich.

Now under the control of Mr Mandelson, the Minister without Portfolio, the exhibition represents a bonanza for the construction industry. But despite the fact that pounds 400m from the National Lottery will be poured into the event, officials are loath to discuss who will get what to build it. One Millennium Commission offical said that such details were commercially sensitive. When it was put to him that the pounds 400m was technically taxpayers' money and people therefore had a right to know, he argued that the money had ceased to belong to the taxpayers when they bought a lottery ticket.

The twitchiness has been heightened by the controversy over the pounds 9m success fee payable to Mr McCormack if the sports and sponsorship agent secures pounds 150m in private-sector backing. Labour MPs are furious at the contract with this controversial figure who is able to make or break sporting events by withholding his star performers.

They are also annoyed at the pounds 500,000 pay package for Ms Page, head of the company putting the exhibition together. Eric Sorenson, chief executive of the Millennium Commission, has a salary package worth pounds 400,000.

These sums, though, are peanuts compared with the deals of some of the companies involved.

British Gas sold the site, a former gasworks on the Greenwich peninsula on the Thames, to English Partnerships, the government industrial reclamation agency, for pounds 20m. British Gas still owns much of the surrounding land, the value of which will receive a huge boost if the exhibition is a lasting success. The job of decontaminating the site has gone to a firm called Nuttalls, for a fee believed to be about pounds 10m. Laing and Robert McAlpine, the two giant building firms, have a contract worth pounds 150m to develop the site and erect the Millennium dome. The profit element is not disclosed but industry sources say it typically falls between 13 and 20 per cent.

Watsons Steel, a Bolton-based firm, has an pounds 11m contract to supply the steel and steel-cabling for the dome. Koch Hightex, a German company, won the order worth pounds 7m to supply the fabric for the dome's shell. The piling contract has been awarded to Keller Ground Engineering of Coventry for pounds 1.5m.

Still to be decided is which firm is to lay the foundations. A shortlist of British contenders has been drawn up by the organisers.

Plans for the pounds 250m dome are being drawn up by the Richard Rogers Partnership, the architectural firm headed by Lord Rogers, a close friend of Tony Blair. He is thought to be receiving between 3 and 4 per cent of the value of the new building.

Following the disclosure in the Independent on Sunday of the possible scale of Lord Rogers's fee and the prominent role that Mr Blair has played in arguing for the project to go ahead, questions have been asked at Westminster.

Alex Salmond, the Scottish Nationalist MP, has tabled a question demanding to know the exact size of Lord Rogers's fee. MPs from Scotland, the North and the Midlands are particularly angry that the fruits of the millennium celebration and the new jobs it creates will be largely enjoyed by firms in the South-east of England.

The architects are working closely with Buro Happold, a firm of structural engineers. Imagination, another specialist consultancy, had the design brief but has completed its work for the time being.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: In House Counsel - Contracts

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading supplier of compliance software a...

Recruitment Genius: Associate System Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Associate System Engineer r...

Recruitment Genius: Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Executive Assistant is required to join a l...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat