The Millennium Dome Bombing Saga

 

MD News
In 2003Tuesday, 2003/01/07
'Blackfield' rather than 'Brownfield'
Redevelopment plans – now on hold
Redevelopment of the site once occupied by the Millennium Dome will not be going ahead anytime soon. A furious row between the owners and the government has leaked into the public domain and there is no good news for the poor old taxpayer.
   Plans under consideration for the Dome site have include building a blend of housing, office accommodation and light industry, and creating a theme park on the site. But there is an immediate and serious problem has brought everything to a standstill.
   Lord Hawksbane, sometime flatmate of the former prime minister Angus McBlair, was seen as the 'Other Power Behind The Dome' (alongside Heritage Minister Pierson McAndelsen) in the good old days. His lordship was the cabinet office minister in charge of 'co-ordinating all aspects of the Millennium Dome project'.

   Personal Assurances

Before the site changed hands in 2001, Hawksbane gave personal assurances to Donald Anschluss, the Chief Executive of Anshluss Entertainment International, that the government has spent sufficient money to clean the site up brownfield standards. According to the latest leaks, he was dead wrong to do so.
   The Millennium Dome was built on derelict land which had once been occupied by a gas works and various industries producing long-lasting pollutants. The soil is polluted to a depth of at least 14 metres with heavy metals, including lead, cadmium and arsenic, and toxic organic residues. Heavy contamination is a legacy of the chemical steel, electrical and gas works, which have occupied the site since Victorian times.
   Instead of a thorough clean-up, the government did just enough surface cleaning (in fact, to a depth of just 18 inches) to allow the construction of a concrete raft over the mess. Greenwich council declared the site safe for exhibition purposes inside a Dome having relatively shallow foundations. And the site was certified as safe only for the expected one-year public life of the Dome.
   Getting the site certifed safe for office buildings and light industry, which will require deeper foundations than the Dome's, will involve major excavation and hugely expensive soil treatment. Worse, areas devoted to housing will require gas-tight membranes to protect the occupants from noxious gases.
   The whole operation will cost tens of millions of pounds, which the present government is refusing to stump up. In fact, some analysts now believe that the cost of a proper clean-up operation, for which the taxpayer is liable, could well exceed the amount of money to be made from re-development.

   The Lawyers are now in charge

Just before Christmas 2000, Greenwich Council granted the site's owners planning permission for 1,200 homes, comprising high-density housing and "executive accommodation", on this prime site beside the River Thames. Plans for a high-tech business park have also been approved. But the approval for all parts of the site plan is conditional on a thorough clean-up of the land.
   The fate of the site now seems to be in the hands of the lawyers. The former owner, Signor Lucrio Sospettoso, is confident that the clean-up is included in the government's acknowledged obligation to meet the Dome's shut-down costs, and his staff are prepared to offer evidence on behalf of the Anschluss Organization if the matter hits the courts.
   On the government's side, Deputy Prime Minister Henry Tudor's minions are arguing that the sale was made on an 'as is' basis at a bargain price, and the current owner is liable for any further costs arising out of health and safety considerations.
   This looks like being something which will run and run for much longer than the Dome's limited lifetime!

filed by Faraday Grange [f.grange@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
In 2003Wednesday, 2003/01/22
The Dome 'was at risk of collapse into Blackwall Tunnel'

The team responsible for the Millennium Dome's engineering work went to panic stations in the summer of 1998, according to a 'misdirected' fax, which reached the offices of many national newspapers yesterday afternoon. The engineers were worried that the western part of the Dome might collapse into the Blackwall Tunnel, one of London's main traffic arteries.
   The problem arose because of a combination of 3 factors:
1. The land on which the Dome was built was heavily disturbed when it was cleared of toxic waste, turning it into rubble rather than solid earth.
2. The Dome needed deeper, and heavier, foundations than a structure built on solid ground.
3. The Blackwall Tunnel runs relatively close to the ground surface and heavy weights placed above it are likely to cause serious structural problems.
   It was while making new calculations after one of the many reshuffles of the Dome's intended contents that the engineers realized that the Zones straddling the tunnel would make the combined structure too heavy for safety. The architects had to come up with new designs for the affected Zones and for the struts which support the roof in this area.
   Building a cantilevered concrete raft over the danger area solved most of the problems but escalated costs. Attempts to find out how much this planning failure added to the price of the Dome have been unsuccessful to date. It is understood that detectives from Scotland Yard are trying to work out who made the cost of the extra work 'disappear' from the budget as part of an extensive investigation of the corruption surrounding all aspects of the Dome project.
   Similar worries about the safety of the Blackwall Tunnel were raised when the plans for the Greenwich North station of the Jubilee line were finalized in 1996/7. The people building the Dome seem not to have learned any lessons from their neighbours.
   Given the size of the cover-up needed to save political face over a severe embassassment to the Dome's champions, it is surprising that the leak has taken over 4 years to seep into the public domain. Which leaves hopeful journalists waiting for further revelations of similar size to be faxed to the 'wrong' destination.

filed by Faraday Grange [f.grange@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
In 2003Wednesday, 2003/02/12
'Operation Merlin' Commendations for Dome police
DCI Paul Armour
Headed Operation Merlin
A baker's dozen of officers involved in Operation Merlin, which trapped the Millennium Dome diamond raiders, are to receive official commendations.
   The gang was caught red-handed as they used a JCB digger to crash into the Dome on the morning of November 7th, 2000. To their complete surprise, they found over 100 police officers, many of them armed, lying in wait for them.
   The thieves had no idea that a Scotland Yard Flying Squad team led by Detective Chief Inspector Armour had been watching them since the summer. Worse, the police had arranged for the intended loot to be replaced by replicas the night before.
   The target of the robbery was the collection of diamonds displayed by the De Beers company in the Business Zone. Worth an estimated 350 million, the collection includes the fabulous Millennium Star, the third largest diamond in the world. The De Beers company has already shown its appreciation by presenting a replica of the Millennium Star to Scotland Yard's Crime Museum.
   Eleven men and women were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 5 to 22 years for their parts in the planned robbery in February of last year.

filed by Faraday Grange [f.grange@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
In 2003Thursday, 2003/04/17
Falsified Memory Syndrome?
Former PM Angus McBlair
No one is to blame for the Millennium Dome fiasco because no one can work out where the blame should fall. Lord Justice Belkrayne's 'public' inquiry into all aspects of the Dome's contruction and administration, ordered two years ago by current Deputy Prime Minister Henry Tudor, is reported to be close to collapse from sheer frustration. Although, it is difficult to be sure of anything about this inquiry as most of it is being held behind closed doors 'to prevent the spread of potentially prejudicial speculation'.
   The main problem seems to be that Angus McBlair and his cronies are all telling different stories about who did what. This policy of evasion runs from top to bottom of the chain of command, and includes more or less everyone involved with the Dome.
   Experts are saying that what appears to have happened is that McBlair and his cronies have stood the concept of 'story co-ordination' on its head. Instead of getting together to make sure that everyone tells the same co-ordinated story, they have 'unco-ordinated' their accounts of what they did and what they know about the actions of other people.
   What it all comes down to is that the inquiry's investigators are unable to work out who is telling the truth and who is suffering from 'political false memory syndrome'. And the huge number of essential documents shredded by both the previous administration and the Dome's various managers has hampered the investigation from day one. As a result, nobody can be blamed for anything because the investigators are unable pin the blame for specific 'crimes' on the individual(s) responsible for them.
   The DPM is reported to be frustrated, not a little fed up and sorry he ever set the inquiry in motion. A most likely outcome now is that he will choose to follow the policy of his predecessor; namely, he will draw a line in the sand, move on and forget the Dome ever existed.

filed by Faraday Grange [f.grange@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
In 2003Friday, 2003/07/25
Dome Treasure Trove Uncovered

Uncovered railwayAn astonishing hoard of equipment for the Millennium Dome has turned up in a Docklands storage site. Most of it was built for the Dome at taxpayer's expense but abandoned when trials found the item to be useless for the intended purpose. The total cost to the taxpayer of building the equipment is estimated to be in excess of £100million. The finds include:

  • A miniature railway system with 4 trains. It was intended to carry visitors around the site but abandoned on the orders of the Health and Safety Agency after failing tests. [cost £4.5million]
  • A revolving stage for a production in the display area which was abandoned when the original producer was sacked. [cost £10million]
  • A cherry-picker crane intended for use in changing light bulbs. It was junked when it was found to be 9 feet too short. [cost £800,000]
  • 920 plasma screens which were 'surplus to requirements'. [cost £3,600 each]
  • A sound system which was found to be too full of bugs to work consistently. [cost £520,000]
  • Several complete exhibits which were commissioned by over-enthusiastic Dome staff. [cost up to £300,000 each]

The 'lost treasures' were discovered by Simon Hammer, an independent consultant brought in to lead an independent team identifying government waste. The government and the New Millennium Commission are now fighting a furious rearguard action. They are seeking to prove that either the equipment wasn't useless or that it cost a whole lot less than the prices assigned by Mr. Hammer.
   Sounds like they're both on a loser whichever way the argument goes!

filed by Maris O'Vishke [m.ov@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
In 2003Thursday, 2003/08/14
Dome Clean-Up Optimism

The government has announced that it is negotiating for access to an extraordinary new process, which can be used for cleaning the former Millennium Dome site. A spokesman from the Ministry of Science and New Technology described the method as ecologically friendly and rapid.
   Bio-extraction is not a new process but the inventors of the new process have given it a few highly effective twists. De-Tox UK is saying very little about their method as they are currently seeking patent protection. But it is believe to involve a genetically modified version of a fast-growing tropical shrub.
   The modifications involve adapting the shrubs for a temperate, northern climate and increasing the already fearsome growth rate. The shrubs are able to drive their roots deep into the ground and they can 'hoover up' all kinds of contaminants, including heavy metals and toxic organic compounds.
   The contaminants are stored in 'nodules', which form at the top of the root system. After a three month growth period, the shrubs are cut down and the toxic compounds are removed with three to six inches of topsoil. Test have shown that a single growth period can convert a site with severe industrial contamination to a greenfield category.
   Prime Minister Alen Jenson described the new partnership as the best thing to happen to Greenwich since the war.

filed by Faraday Grange [f.grange@md.news.uk]

Cashing in on the Dome

9 foot hamsterSelling stuff from the Millennium Dome has been a major industry in the 21st Century. The fire salvage sale in June 2001 of items which survived the Dome's destruction and sales of Dome memorabilia have raised vast amounts of money. And when the hoard of equipment that never made it to the Dome (see our item for 2003/07/25) goes on sale, further vast amounts of cash will change hands.
   So it will come as no surprise to experienced students of human nature to learn that quite a significant proportion of the material sold never had anything to do with the Dome. Forgery is another growth industry of the 21st Century as the Millennium Dome has become the hot collectabilia source of the moment.
   Experts have estimated that enough stuff to fill the Dome twice over has been sold to date. And there is probably about as much stuff again waiting to find a buyer.

filed by Maris O'Vishke [m.ov@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
In 2003Friday, 2003/10/07
Clean-up plan a Mafia scam
Cmdr. Paul Brass
Photo: Tim deLong
Eight men were taken into custody last night after the Millennium Dome Fraud Squad closed in on the alleged architects of an international conspiracy. Commander Paul Brass, 54, who led the Millennium Dome Bomber task force, said the men are all members of the Russian Mafia or their associates.
   The suspects were allegedly involved in a complicated plan to defaud the Ministry of Science and New Technology. They had assembled highly convincing data to 'prove' that genetically modified tropical shrubs could be used to remove toxic chemicals from the Millennium Dome site.
   A spokesman for the Ministry said, "We might have been taken in but everything seemed much too good to be true right from the word go. We encouraged the gang from a sense of curiosity as much as anything else. It was a very clever scam."
   There was no comment from the Heritage Ministry about what will be done to clean up the Millennium Dome site now that this latest breakthrough has turned out to be an illusion.

filed by Faraday Grange [f.grange@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
In 2003Tuesday, 2003/11/04
"Dozy old judge unfair to us,"
claim dome raiders

The leader of the gang which tried to steal diamonds worth £350 million from the Millennium Dome has lodged an appeal against his sentence – on legal aid, of course. He claims that the judge got so bored during the 'Trial of the Millennium' that he nodded off several times. There is even a suggestion that the judge's snoring might have distracted the jury from the defence counsel's closing arguments.
   The main members of the gang were caught red-handed as they used a JCB digger to crash into the Millennium Dome on the morning of November 7th, 2000. To their complete surprise, they found over 100 police officers, many of them armed, lying in wait for them.
   The thieves had no idea that a Scotland Yard Flying Squad team led by Detective Chief Inspector Paul Armour had been watching them since the summer and that the police had replaced the intended loot with replicas the night before.
The Millennium Star
Pic : Oliver Strange Agency.
   Armed with sledge-hammers, smoke grenades, stink bombs, bottles of ammonia for blinding anyone who tried to stop them and a nail gun, the raiders were caught in the act of trying to batter their way into display cases housing the De Beers diamond collection.
   Alan Redmond's lawyers are trying to locate witnesses who might be able to give evidence about when the judge dozed off and for how long. Redmond does not appear to be disputing that he was caught 'bang to rights' but his case is that if the judge had stayed awake, any conviction would have been for the lesser offence of conspiracy to steal, which would have resulted in a shorter gaol sentence.
   Redmond and fellow ringleader Walter Denisov are challenging both their convictions and the length of their sentences. Two others, Eustace Carmaggio and Michael Ianbow, are both appealing against their sentences. The court has already dismissed an appeal by a fifth raider, Karl Malvern, against his 5-year sentence for conspiracy to steal.
   The judge in question, Martin Ancoome, 73, had no comment to make last night.

What they did and the sentences

  • Alan Redmond, 40, drove the JCB digger used to smash a plastic entrance door to the Dome. A career criminal and the mastermind of the raid, he was convicted of conspiracy to rob and received 22 years.
  • Walter Denisov, 48, was arrested inside the Millennium Diamond exhibit with a sledgehammer. Alan Redmond's right-hand man, he was convicted of conspiracy to rob and also received 22 years.
  • Eustace Carmaggio, 36, remained outside the Dome. He was armed with smoke bombs and an ammonia spray and it was his job to keep the escape route clear. He was convicted of conspiracy to rob and received 15 years.
  • Michael Ianbow, 57, was also arrested while attacking the Millennium Diamond exhibit with a sledgehammer. A career criminal and a member of a notorious family of East-London based drug traffickers, he was convicted of conspiracy to rob and received 18 years.
  • Karl Malvern, 43, was arrested in a speedboat used as a decoy getaway vehicle. He was acquitted of conspiracy to rob but convicted conspiracy to steal and received 5 years.

filed by Faraday Grange [f.grange@md.news.uk]
 

 

MD News
In 2003Saturday, 2003/12/20
The Curse of the Dome
The Cursed Dome? Photo credit: Tim deLong
Involvement with the Millennium Dome seems to have blighted the careers of a lot of the people who planned it, spent a whole lot of public money on it, and gave jobs associated with its construction and running to cronies, or were involved in some way with this monumental waste of taxpayers' cash.
   The biggest casualty, of course, is Angus McBlair, who was bigging it up as prime minister at one time, and planning to set records as the longest serving Labour premier of all time. His cronyism, his desire to bypass Parliament and rule by personal decree and his passion for distorting unpalatable truth with political spin to put himself in a more favourable light all contributed to his downfall.
   McBlair's chancellor, George McDour, also slipped into political oblivion rather than taking what he saw as his turn to be prime minister. Noted for his Stealth Taxes, to which he resorted when it was politically unacceptable for him to impose direct taxes, McDour attempted to create an image of a man who was prudent above all things when dealing with the country's finances.
   That image was sadly dented when he botched selling off half of the country's gold reserves to prop up the euro (even though Britain was not part of the eurozone) and it shredded completely when the leaks started during the political scramble over the succession after McBlair's fall from grace.
   McDour will be remembered mainly for his terrible economic forecasting and multi-billion pound tax-raid on the private pensions industry. The obligation to repair the damage caused by the latter is placing Real Labour under particularly heavy spending restraints.
   Pierson McAndelsen, Angus McBlair's "Sultan of Spin", who disappeared off to the Continent to write his memoirs and rewrite history as much as possible. McAndelsen was one of the prime advocates of the Millennium Dome project, some even suggest that he delivered the decisive push that persuaded McBlair to embrace the project with such enthusiasm. All that, however, is lost in the mists of time and edited out of McAndelsen's memories.

Other Casualties

Lord Hawksbane (Gerald Philip Lucas Hawksbane, Bart., call me Luke) - Cabinet Office Minister in charge of 'co-ordinating all aspects of the Millennium Dome project', he is now currently out of political favour and making his living as a lawyer again.

David Jones - Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, chairman of the New Millennium Commission, currently languishing on the back benches of Parliament.

Chapman O'Straw - Home Secretary and universally known as the man who vowed to catch the Millennium Dome Bomber but failed to deliver on the pledge, he is currently Minister Without Portfolio but hoping to get one eventually.

Dame Shirley Worthy - sometime "Dome Secretary" and head of A New Millenium Dawn, the Dome's management quango, now reduced to scraping a living on the quango 'D-list'.

Sir Brian Targe - director of finance of A New Millenium Dawn, the Dome's management quango, now struggling along on a bare handful of directorships.

Dame Alice Wrathe - "Dome Secretary" and successor to Baroness Worthy as head of ANMD, she is on the quango 'C-list'.

Ms Robyn Carnell-Wyatt - a sometime ANMD executive who awarded contracts to boyfriend Amos Roche, she received a suspended prison sentence in September 2002 and she is currently under investigation for alleged tax evasion and irregularities over payments made to her personal pension fund.

filed by Faraday Grange [f.grange@md.news.uk]
 

In 2003
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