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Hollick moves to defend position in London Eye rent row

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Fresh fuel will today be added to the ongoing row raging about the rent of the Millennium Wheel site.

South Bank Centre chairman Lord Hollick has defended his intention to raise the rent on part of the land on which Marks Barfield's London landmark sits, saying it is 'fair and commercial'.

The businessman will argue that his actions are in the public interest because the South Bank Centre is funded by the Arts Council.

In the Centre's annual review, Hollick says: 'In May 2005 the Evening Standardpublished a malicious story that the South Bank Centre was threatening to dismantle the BA London Eye and was seeking an unreasonable increase in rent. Both allegations are false.'

Hollick highlights the fact that all of the wheel's profits are used to pay back a loan to British Airways.

'The South Bank centre is here to run a world-class arts centre for the benefit of the entire community and it would be wrong to show special tenderness to a private enterprise commercial venture seeking to maximise its profits,' he continues.

The emergence earlier this year of Hollick's wish to increase the rent was met with calls for him to resign from London mayor Ken Livingstone.

by Rob Sharp

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