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'Wasteful' BBC slammed by MPs

The BBC has come under fire from MPs for wasting taxpayers' money during the construction of its new facilities at White City, West London.

On Monday, the cross-party Public Accounts Committee slammed BBC director general Mark Thompson over a major report into the corporation's financial dealings.

The move came just days after the high-profile departure of MacCormac Jamieson Prichard from the corporation's Broadcasting House redevelopment ( see article here).

A report by the National Audit Office accused the BBC of wasting valuable space at a new development at White City - elements of which are not fully occupied - despite the scheme being built to the corporation's bespoke specifications.

Last year, five buildings by Allies and Morrison joined an original BBC White City building to create the new 7ha BBC Media Village site on Wood Lane.

The facilities were opened in May 2004, providing office space for approximately 6,000 people.

Committee chair Edward Leigh said: 'The BBC has spent this money [on facilities] to not much effect.'

The committee condemned the organisation's inability to fill buildings, especially in light of its recently announced intention to cut its staff numbers by 4,000 and move considerable sections of its operations to Manchester. The politicians claimed this should have been taken into account earlier.

The corporation also came under fire for suggesting 300 design changes to its new developments - which include the £649 million Broadcasting House revamp - after the appointment of architects, wasting money in the process.

'We have a role as a public body to produce buildings with a high architectural value,' said BBC chief Thompson.

Committee member Alan Williams hit back, calling the BBC 'ill prepared'.

by Rob Sharp

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