7/11/05Location doubts dog London ICC go ahead

Question marks still linger over the Mayoral Commission’s recommendation to build a £300m convention centre in central London, following approval by the London Development Agency. Although support for an ICC is strong, many industry professionals are sceptical about the choice of location and the ability of the Mayor’s office to win enough support to get the public funding needed. Commission chairman Gerry Acher said that after consultation with overseas planners, they had concluded that a central location was best in order to "capitalise on delegate spend potential". However, Excel London managing director, conference & events, Vanessa Cotton questioned this wisdom. "The Olympic win has focused attention firmly on Stratford and East London, and we should be capitalising on that," she said. "The developments taking place here mean it is no longer a fringe or suburban destination, although that’s how the Commission sees it." First Protocol director Mark Riches said that while he felt central London was the right move, he was still not convinced it would go ahead. "To raise £300m you need government funding, and I’m not sure that it can be raised quickly."

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