However, it has been reported that these bidders may be subsidised with money earmarked for urban regeneration. English Partnerships was due to receive£85m from the sale of the Dome (to reflect its initial investment), but now may only receive£30m, with the rest going to pay off the Dome's debt.
Archie Norman MP, shadow secretary of state for environment, transport and the regions, will today write to the deputy prime minister, calling on him to confirm these rumours that the Dome sale will bailed out by massive public subsidy from regeneration funds.
Archie Norman commented: 'Not only has over£500m of Lottery money been spent on the troubled Dome, but now Labour's big flop, John Prescott, is trying to bail out the big top with cash meant for the inner-cities.
'John Prescott and the Labour government must take responsibility for the Dome's spectacular failure. It was Prescott who pronounced that the Dome would be 'the first big test of competence' of the Labour government and, 'if we can't make this work, we're not much of a government'. It is time they stopped trying to pass the blame onto everyone else and faced the music.'
John Prescott remarked in 1997 that the Dome would be 'the first big test of competence' of the Labour government (cited in The Times, 5 January 2000) and, in 1998, that, 'if we can't make this work, we're not much of a government' (cited in Sunday Telegraph, 4 January 2000).
Labour have spent less on regeneration than the last Conservative government. Expenditure on regeneration in the four years since Labour was elected is£400m less than the expenditure in the last four years of the previous parliament even before inflation.