Costs could double on 2000 exhibition

Imagination has warned the Millennium Commission that its year 2000 exhibition may cost up to 1bn – double the earlier estimates of 500m.

Imagination creative director Gary Withers is reported to have written to the commission last week with the information that site costs had risen.

An Imagination spokeswoman stresses that: “The cost of designing and building the exhibition has remained absolutely constant, at 350m, as have the operating costs of 150m.”

But Imagination has found transport links, waste removal, utilities such as water and gas, and maintenance may cost up to 500m.

“We want to be sure that the site can accommodate millions of visitors,” says the spokeswoman. “The figure increased as people became more aware of what needs doing on the site. The letter was sent in the spirit of best advice.”

The commission says it “cannot comment until the operating company is in place”, a date for which is still pending. “We’re still standing by our original allocation of 200m,” says a spokeswoman.

Government advisor Sir Peter Levene secured promises from corporate sponsors for 150m earlier this year. If Imagination’s estimates are correct, a further 500m may have to be underwritten by the Government.

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