The Millennium Dome ran out of money long before it opened, documents released by the National Archives have shown. The latest releases confirm that the Dome would have reached a zero balance in its operating account on January 3rd, 2000, just a few days after its planned opening.
The Millennium Dome Bomber did the government a favour, therefore, by allowing the Dome's management quango and the then prime minister to twist the collective arms of the administrators of Lottery funds. This unholy alliance was able to raise further operating cash by padding the repair bills shamelessly.
Mikaela Shannon, a senior accountant with the New Millennium Commission at the time, recalled that: "The Dome was always dancing on the edge of doom. The sensible option would have been to let it slide into insolvency but good sense rarely had much to do with the Dome's affairs.
"We would spend hours in a meeting, pretending to evaluate lists of unrealistic options. Then we would just give the Dome a few more millions, or tens of millions, just before everyone lost the will to live."
She added, "At one point, our chief executive almost got up the nerve to recommend that the Dome be closed down early. But he got the usual hints about the adverse effect on his career and he stepped back into line."
The delay in opening the Dome also let Angus McBlair and his fellow enthusiasts think again about their forecast of a million visitors per month being eager to view the Dome's 'bland' and 'vacuous' content. Even so, the record shows that their estimates of visitor numbers remained wildly over-optimistic until the running of the Dome was taken out of the government's hands.
The Millennium Dome is believed to have cost the nation in the region of £2 billion during its ill-starred life compared to the McBlair government's planning estimate of £400 million. Lord Hathersedge and his team of auditors are still toiling away to account for where the money went. He has issued two interim reports but his final report is still a long way down the road.
filed by Smight Aufrank [firstname.lastname@example.org]