Parliament: Culture: `Extreme concern' over transport links to Dome

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SENIOR MEMBERS of Parliament registered fresh anxieties yesterday about transport links to the pounds 758m Millennium Dome and expressed concern over the building's future after the celebrations.

The House of Commons Culture Committee said that it was "extremely concerned" at London Transport's apparently casual attitude to contingency planning. The Tube route to the Dome is due to be completed in three phases with the final link open by 31 October.

While a report by the committee welcomed the introduction of new management of the construction of the London Underground Jubilee Line extension, there was still a "large question mark" over its completion date.

"The Dome can be viewed as a journey into the future and we do not believe that a Heath Robinson journey across London represents an appropriate start to the day," the report said.

Under the chairmanship of Gerald Kaufman MP, the committee also registered its disagreement over a plan for short-term car parking at the site, saying that the attraction should be "car-free".

The report into the Dome said that its opening celebration should remind people that the millennium was a Christian anniversary, but should not exclude devotees of other faiths or those of none.

Church leaders have indicated that the opening ceremony will be boycotted if the Archbishop of Canterbury is not allowed to usher in the new millennium with a prayer.

The Rev Stephen Lynas, an Anglican minister and millennium spokesman for the UK's main churches, said that the committee's report was "vague" about the position of Christianity in the celebrations.

But the churches were satisfied with the Government's position on the issue, which presumably would take precedence over the deliberations of a select committee, he said.

The report criticised the New Millennium Experience Company for failing to say how tickets for the Dome would be made available to the public.