National Lottery stages a free weekend to justify its grants

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The world's largest greenhouse, the Eden Project, is to hold a free open day to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the National Lottery.

The world's largest greenhouse, the Eden Project, is to hold a free open day to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the National Lottery.

The offer by the award-winning tourist attraction in Cornwall, which was part-funded by lottery money, is an attempt by the Government and the private operators of the lottery to restore public confidence in the games.

Ministers have been concerned about the fall in ticket sales after criticism that some of the lottery funding was wasted on asylum-seeker support groups and causes which people did not regard as worthy of lottery money.

Tessa Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, will announce today that the Eden Project, home to 140,000 plants, will be among the venues that have benefited from lottery funding. It will stage free events on the weekend of 6 and 7 November, to demonstrate that the money has been well spent.

English Heritage will be opening the doors of all lottery-funded projects free on the weekend when the lottery marks its 10th birthday.

The National Trust will be opening 25 of its properties, and bonfires are planned throughout the Highlands and Islands. The Royal Opera House will be holding a free tea dance and there will be a free ice-rink in the forum in Norwich and ice hockey in Belfast, with fireworks at Magna, Sheffield, and The Deep in Hull, and preview tours at the new Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

Ms Jowell will also announce that the idea of allowing lottery gamblers to choose good causes by ticking a box on tickets has been shelved.

Instead, there are outline proposals for the public to be allowed to vote for major projects for lottery funding after the schemes have been aired on television. People will also be invited to join in a consultation exercise to see how they would want to be involved in choosing schemes for lottery funding.

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