Another £47m handout for Dome

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The Independent Online

The beleaguered Millennium Dome today received another £47 million of National Lottery cash so it can carry on until the end of the year.

The beleaguered Millennium Dome today received another £47 million of National Lottery cash so it can carry on until the end of the year.

In making the extra money available, the Millennium Commission said it was "deeply disappointed" to be in a position to have to offer a further grant.

At the same time it was announced that the current non-executive chairman of the Dome David Quarmby would be replaced with an executive chairman, businessman David James.

The new funding follows repeated assurances from Dome organisers the New Millennium Experience Company that it would not seek any more funds from the commission.

Last month, the commission announced it was advancing £43 million to NMEC from the expected £106 million sale of the Dome to the Dome Europe consortium backed by Japanese finance company Nomura.

Earlier in the year, NMEC received an additional £60 million of National Lottery money from the commission to help with cash-flow difficulties after disappointing early attendance figures.

With NMEC continually having to adjust expected visitor numbers, the company asked for £38.6 million more from the commission which eventually came up with £29 million for the Greenwich, south London, attraction.

Last week, NMEC announced that August visitor numbers were lower than those for July and that the average number of daily visitors during the month was still lower than the average needed for the rest of the year if the revised figure of seven million visitors was to be met.

Norman Baker, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on the Dome, said, "If the Millennium Dome can't make do with the handouts it has already received, it should be shut forthwith and mothballed until the new owners take over," he said.

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