Dome is stripped bare by site owners

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The contents of the Millennium Dome are being demolished in what the site owners describe as a "hard strip".

The demolition work means that whoever takes over the site in Greenwich, south-east London will have to create a new inside from scratch. The work is being organised by the government regeneration agency English Partnerships, which took back the Dome last weekend from the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC).

NMEC has announced that its chairman, David James, who has worked as a volunteer since September, will receive a £192,000 payment to cover his expenses. The company also said that it had cost £600,000 a month to keep the Dome standing empty for the first six months of this year.

English Partnerships said details of how firms could bid for the Dome site would be announced in "late summer at the earliest". In February, the Government dropped the Legacy consortium, which planned to turn the Dome into a hi-tech business city, as its preferred bidder. But last night it was reported that the consortium had been invited to bid again.

The Quintain consortium, including the Duke of Westminster's Grosvenor company, is interested and has been in talks with the Tussauds Group and BBC Worldwide.

Originally financed by £449m of lottery money, the Dome only attracted half the 12 million expected visitors and swallowed up a total of £628m.