Trouble at Millennium Dome and Wheel

Ticket blunders at the Dome and inaugural ride on Millennium Wheel cancelled amid safety fears

(Everything2000) A statement from British Airways, which is sponsoring London's Millennium Wheel said: "During one of the very rigorous tests one of the wheel's 32 capsules did not perform to total satisfaction.

Some 250 prizewinners were due to become the first members of the public to be carried on the 450ft high wheel, known as the British Airways London Eye, in a preview ride on New Year's eve.

The official opening, with Prime Minister Tony Blair, along with a laser and firework display, will still go ahead by the River Thames in London. A Concorde flyover at 3,000ft above the wheel in salute to the new attraction will also take place just moments after the opening ceremony.

The wheel, which has 32 enclosed passenger capsules, was due to temporarily stop turning at 10 minutes before midnight so that passengers would be able to toast the new millennium with champagne.

British Airways said the prizewinners would still be entertained at a party on the site and would also be offered a return flight to a destination of their choice anywhere in the world to make up for the disappointment.

Meanwhile, as the countdown to the new millennium begins across Britain, final preparations are being made for street parties and funfairs.

But the Millennium Dome opening ceremony - Britain's showcase New Year's Eve party - has been branded a shambles according to ITN Online after a huge tickets blunder.

Organizers promised that all tickets and passes to the first night of the Dome would be sent out two weeks before the spectacular event. But with just 24 hours to go, only 3,000 have been sent out and it is too late to post the rest.

Organizers the New Millennium Experience Company has now set up two collection points at Stratford Tube and Charlton rail stations from where guests will travel to the Dome.

Other blunders include invitations being sent to the wrong names or addresses, sending only part of families' ticket allocations and giving guests confusing information in phone calls and letters.

Tickets to the exclusive event were not on sale to the public, Instead, some guests were nominated as a reward for community work. Other visitors won tickets through competitions.

Among them are 400 readers of the Mirror newspaper, many of whom were furious about the fiasco - which means they will now have to queue in the cold to collect their tickets.

Spectators were sent security forms to comp