Dome gets another £43m to prevent bankruptcy

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The Independent Online

The Millennium Dome has been given a further £43m of lottery money to save it from bankruptcy.

The Millennium Dome has been given a further £43m of lottery money to save it from bankruptcy.

The loan has been paid by the Millennium Commission on the strict condition that it be repaid in full by the Dome's operators, the New Millennium Experience Company, when it receives £53m from the sale of the site in Greenwich, south-east London, later this year.

It is the third emergency grant that NMEC has received in recent months and takes to £132m the amount of lottery funding needed since February to avoid closure.

The Opposition reacted angrily to news of the loan and demanded the resignation of Lord Falconer of Thoroton, the Cabinet Office minister responsible, whose handling of the Dome was criticised earlier this week by a cross-party committee of MPs. Peter Ainsworth, the Tories' culture, media and sports spokesman, said: "I'm frankly sick to death of this project, with the demands it is making on money which could be spent on any number of good causes. I would say Lord Falconer should resign. This is a disgrace."

Despite assurances from the Millennium Commission and NMEC that up to £30m of the emergency grants of £60m agreed in February and £29m agreed in May would be repaid, it is understood that the commission has written off the money.

The Dome has needed £538m of lottery money, compared with the £399m originally planned in 1997.

The commission justified the latest loan yesterday by stating that it was simply allowing NMEC to "draw forward" part of the £53m it will receive when Dome Europe hands over £105m for the site later this year.

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