An extraordinary row has broken out on the South Bank which has led to the London Eye being served an eviction notice by the South Bank Centre.
South Bank Board chairman Lord Hollick is at the centre of the row
The South Bank Board's solicitors sent the legal warning after attempting to increase the annual rent payable by the London Eye for its portion of Jubilee Gardens from £65,000 to £2.5 million.
The London Eye company told the London SE1 website that negotiations were under way but it was unable to comment further. A statement from the SBC reads: "BA London Eye and the South Bank Centre are conducting the negotiation of a new lease in a professional and constructive way".
Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey told ITV's London Today: "I'm shocked by this. I think the South Bank Centre is behaving like the very worst private developer. They're not actually a private developer, they're public, and they're accountable to the government. It's taxpayers' money that is keeping them going, and it's shocking really because the London Eye has been a fantastic addition to this area which is part of my constituency.
Kate Hoey MP: "I'm shocked by this"
"I've seen the legal action. Herbert Smith the solicitors have sent a letter to London Eye actually saying you will have to get off by 1 July if agreement hasn't been reached. They should be told by the secretary of state to withdraw this immediately and start sitting round and talking sensibly about how much London Eye should pay."
She added: "We work very much as a partnership in the South Bank area and I think it's quite amazing that they've got themselves into this situation and I doubt very much that the members of the South Bank Centre board really know very much about what's been going on and the way Lord Hollick has handled this.
"The vice-chairman of the South Bank Centre, incidentally, is a senior partner in Herbert Smiths, so I think there might be a few questions needing to be asked about how wisely taxpayers' money is going to fund legal action when there's no need for this to happen and where with the right amount of goodwill this could all be sorted out – as it will eventually be – but I think the idea that the South Bank Centre is holding the London Eye to ransom is just outrageous."
For the latest local news and events direct to your inbox every Monday, you need our weekly email newsletter SE1 Direct.
7,000+ locals read it every week. Can you afford to miss out?
Read the latest issue before signing up