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Jowell: "London Eye is here to stay"

London SE1 website team

Culture secretary Tessa Jowell has told the House of Commons that the London Eye's future in SE1 is secure, whilst negotiations continue between the wheel's operator and the South Bank Centre.

National Lottery Day
Tessa Jowell at last year's National Lottery Day on Bankside

Responding to a question from Labour MP Harry Cohen at Culture, Media and Sport question time on Monday, Ms Jowell, who represents Camberwell and Peckham, told the house that the Eye "will continue to give millions of tourists and Londoners pleasure every year, and to enhance London's bid for 2012". She added: "I have no doubt that an agreement will be reached on a new lease for the Eye. The clock has stopped while the negotiations continue, and it is of course important that both parties – the South Bank Centre and the London Eye – get it right."

The minister rejected calls from Mr Cohen for the wheel to be listed.

But Vauxall MP Kate Hoey, writing in the Daily Telegraph, says that it is "astonishing ... that Jowell has done so little to resolve the ongoing dispute".

Referring to the Mayor of London's threat to issue a compulsory purchase order for Jubilee Gardnes, she writes: "Clearly he [Ken Livingstone] is more sensitive to the damage being done by the SBC to the London bid than the Secretary of State."

In a final withering reference to Tessa Jowell, Ms Hoey – herself a former sports minister – adds: "If the person most responsible in Government for the 2012 London bid cannot prevent one of their own quangos, funded from the public purse, behaving in such a shabby way over the most popular visitor attraction in London, what hope is there for an Olympic project delivered on time and within budget?"

• More on this story: London Eye "held to ransom" in South Bank row.

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