Commission defence of Millennium lottery bids

The Millennium Commission has defended the quality of the 400 bids it received by Monday’s deadline for 1.6bn of lottery money, hitting back at alleged comments by its own commissioner Simon Jenkins.

The former Times editor was reported in The Daily Telegraph as finding applications “slightly worthy and slightly predictable”.

According to the newspaper, Jenkins expressed disappointment over unimaginative bids. In the article, he allegedly observes a lack of follies, quirkiness and fizz and lists projects which applicants call “whatever it is they want millennial”, such as Millennium towers, Millennium bridges and Millennium museums.

Yet a commission spokesman maintains the quotes have been “taken completely out of context”. Jenkins himself was unavailable to comment.

The spokesman adds that the bids received are “very encouraging”. He says: “If they successfully make the transition from the drawing board to reality they will capture the imagination of the British people.”

The commission sent out 700 questionnaires, the second stage of the application system. From these applicants, 300 have decided to wait until next year, and the remaining 400 bids will be appraised by advisors.

A shortlist will be published by the end of May and the winners announced by July.

Requests include 50m for a revised version of Zaha Hadid’s Cardiff Bay Opera House design. This is the maximum sum which is available. The commission is expected to fund around a dozen projects of this size.

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