All these people are responsible, and some are downright guilty

'It angers me that council flats, foisted on Greenwich by bad architects, were allowed to remain a blot on the landscape while millions were poured into the Dome'

On Wednesday, Lord Falconer was telling us that the £761m that had been poured into the Dome had not been squandered. It had been spent on the regeneration of the Greenwich area. My advice to the avuncular Charlie is to try telling that to the tenants who have to live on the Ferrier Estate, a grey concrete monument to the worst form of council flat design of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

On Wednesday, Lord Falconer was telling us that the £761m that had been poured into the Dome had not been squandered. It had been spent on the regeneration of the Greenwich area. My advice to the avuncular Charlie is to try telling that to the tenants who have to live on the Ferrier Estate, a grey concrete monument to the worst form of council flat design of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

The estate lies less than two miles from the Dome, yet it could be a world away. It is plagued by Pharaoh ants. It is run-down. Like most such estates, it has a crime problem, and it is easy to see why. A stolen car lies abandoned in the roadside, its tyres removed by the thieves. Yellow police signs appeal for witnesses to a murder that happened on the ramp of the nearby station.

It angers me that council flats such as the ghastly Ferrier Estate, foisted on the people of Greenwich by bad architects, were allowed to remain as a blot on the landscape, while millions were poured into the Dome. That is finally beginning to change. Government money is reaching Ferrier Estate, and efforts are being made to create a sense of community: a photographic project involving local people and a photographer from the celebrated Magnum agency will lead to an exhibition of life in the area as part of the current three-month, borough-wide Flash Festival of Photography.

But had the people of Greenwich been consulted about what we wanted to mark the millennium, a big white tent would have been fairly low on our list of priorities. I would have advised Peter Mandelson to build a big millennium bridge - one that did not wobble - to replace the dangerous Blackwall Tunnel. At least it would have been useful, and if they wanted something spectacular on millennium night, Tony Blair and the Queen could have lit it up and fired off a barrage of fireworks, like the Australians did in Sydney Harbour.

I could not share in the praise that most people from outside Greenwich poured on the Dome's architect, Lord Rogers, for the originality of his structure. From Tree Hill in Greenwich Park, where Elizabeth I may have danced with her father Henry, the sight of its Meccano-like tent poles rising on the skyline was like a poke in the eye with a big stick.

Old Greenwich, with its naval history, did not need a dome to put it on the map. It had the Naval College, Royal Observatory, the Meridian, and the Harrison clocks, whose story was turned by Dava Sobel into the best-selling book Longitude.

The Dome was seen locally as an affliction that would do Greenwich more harm than good. A ban on cars at the Dome has been extended by introducing parking restrictions in the surrounding area. This upset car-owners and shopkeepers for miles around.

There was even a panic that Blackheath would be turned into a giant car park for the Dome. Some joker applied for planning permission to build a second Crystal Palace on the heath, and entrepreneurs wanted to string gondolas through Greenwich Royal Park to the River Thames for visitors to travel to the Dome by ski lift.

On New Year's Eve, we had our revenge on the VIPs who had visited this monster upon us. We gathered in our thousands in the grounds of the Maritime Museum to watch a line-up of big acts, including Bryan Ferry, Eurythmics and Simply Red.

The Queen sailed past on her way to the other do at the Dome and we gave her a boozy cheer. Down at the Dome, all the VIPs, including some of the most important opinion-formers in the country, were fuming, having been starved of food and strong drink, and forced to endure a show that seemed far less fun than ours did.

It was no surprise to me that Peter Mandelson, Jennie Page and Michael Grade could not organise the proverbial party in a brewery.

Last year, before the Dome opened, I went down there for a Sunday bike ride, largely out of curiosity, and discovered a gaggle of German tourists lost among the gasometers. They were standing where the footpath came to an abrupt end, by the side of the six-lane highway at the mouth of the Blackwall Tunnel under the Thames. They wanted to know where the nearest Tube station was. I had to tell them that there wasn't one, because the Jubilee Line had not yet opened. But when it did it put this derelict corner of Greenwich in touch with Bond Street in 25 minutes. The Docklands Light Railway has reached under the river, linking Greenwich old town to the Jubilee Line and Canary Wharf in 15 minutes.

For some of us, a lot changed. Thousands of people who now work at Canary Wharf want to live in the leafy suburbs across the River Thames in Greenwich and Blackheath, and that has pushed up property prices.

It's true that one local shuttle bus service went into receivership after the Dome opened, but the Dome and its associated infrastructure has turned this part of London into the Hot Property Zone. And let's face it, without the Dome, Greenwich would not be in the opening sequence of the latest James Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough. But what has Pierce Brosnan ever done for Ferrier Estate?

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