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Our Aims

:: Stop any sale of a long leasehold interest of the Palace that's not for charitable purposes. The 1900 Alexandra Park and Palace Act provided that both Palace and park be held on trust "for the free use and recreation of the public for ever"

:: Safeguard the studios and the mast which pioneered the world's first high-definition television broadcasts and preserve the outline of the original studios A and B. Preserve and maintain the Palace's Victorian theatre and famous Willis organ. Protect public access to all of these and promote them as visitor attractions.

:: Reconstitute AP's trustees back to representatives of the whole of London and of the nation, capable of and interested in maintaining the Palace and Park for public use under its trusts (e.g. north London boroughs, The GLA, English Heritage, BBC, The Arts Council; individuals who have experience in community, heritage and educational areas.

The Palace is a unique national public asset and should be cherished as such.

 

In the News | January - August 2007
 
Latest News

Save the palace we all love

Hornsey Journal | 4.07.07

WHEN I first saw Alexandra Palace some 15 years ago, I immediately fell in love with it and therefore the area. It plays a central part in my life, my family and lives of the people that live in the area.

I walk, jog and shop in the excellent farmers' market there and have attended many concerts there. In recent times, The Darkness and Keane have sold out there. What a great place for a concert venue - the groups clearly loved playing there.

There is something quite magical about the place, the grounds and the nature reserve and wildlife that inhabit Ally Pally.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to make the place pay, and from a layman's point of view the reason it is so special is because Haringey Council has left it alone. Now the council, and the Charity Commission, are selling the lease of the Palace that clearly is not theirs to sell.

The Palace belongs to the people and it is they who should decide its fate, based on transparent accounts and choice. Incompetence is no reason to deprive us all of the best gem in north London.

I, like other residents near Alexandra Palace, therefore fully support all efforts made by individuals of Save The Alexandra Palace Campaign.

Lynne Zilkha, N10.

Pally's future is shrouded in mystery

Hornsey Journal | 27.06.07

COUNCILLOR Matt Cooke - chairman of the Alexandra Palace Trust Board for just a few days - launched an attack (Journal, June 21) on a ratepayer who is concerned about the fate of Alexandra Palace and - due to the connivance of Haringey Council - the impending demolition of the world's first TV studios.

He [Cllr Cooke] states: "To do anything to the [Alexandra Palace] Park other than manage and improve it is simply not on anyone's agenda."

This might be easier to believe if the only "agenda" that exists on the subject was full public knowledge (i.e. the lease and related documents). But the council has gone to some trouble to maintain a hidden agenda that contains the details that are either commercially or politically sensitive.

Councillor Cooke implies that the public has had full access to the lease all along, and fails to disclose that - thanks to his council's most earnest efforts - even the cut-down version was published long after the final date for public comment to the Charity Commission. Haringey, and its puppet AP trust board, made not a single detail of the lease public of their own volition. Our council released a partial version of one of several closely related documents, grudgingly, too late to help the public and under external pressure.

I made a request to the council on December 11, 2006, under the FoI Act for a copy of the contract with the development company, Firoka. After a 10-day delay and just before Christmas, Haringey asked me for "clarification" of what I sought. The deadline for public comment was in early January. Haringey then wrote that the lease was subject to commercial confidentiality and I could expect further delay while the lawyers of Haringey/Firoka worked out what they might choose to release into the public domain.

Can it honestly be said that, in the handing over to Firoka of the borough's most important building, Haringey has operated in a fair, sincere, open manner?

We simply do not know what details have been withheld from us. Despite the protestation of commercial confidentiality, we cannot be sure about the nature of what is kept secret. The information concealed may be more politically sensitive than commercially sensitive. The public - on whose behalf all of this is being done - cannot tell.

Do Haringey residents have no right to know what is in store for this historic public building?

Why is the council so secretive and who is doing the misleading?

Clive Carter, Stapleton Hall Road, N4.

Ally Pally park fears justified

Hornsey Journal | 27.06.07

IN HIS letter (Viewpoints, Journal, June 21), Councillor Matt Cooke suggested Jacob O'Callaghan was being alarmist.

By his judgement in 1967, Mr Justice Pennycuick stated that the Palace and Park should be used for charitable purposes forever. One might have thought that was the end of it until the order was sort from Parliament by the council/trustees and granted in 2004 allowing a long lease.

But the minister, Fiona MacTaggart, was forced, because of the political make-up of the board of trustees, to guarantee that the order was not to allow the council/trustees to simply flog off the Palace. Well, to many, that is just what has happened.

After the decision of the Charities Commission to sanction the lease, Firoz Kassam stated that he had, from the very outset, told the council/trustees that he had no interest in the community centre housed in the old railway station behind the Palace. Yet when asked to exclude it from the footprint before the submission to The Charities Commission the council/trustees refused to consider such a proposal on the grounds that it would completely derail their negotiations with Firoka. Make of that what you will, but some may think the council were only too happy to flog off the centre.

On the grounds of commercial confidentiality, details of the lease were kept completely secret from everyone except the trustees and David Leibeck, chairman of the advisory committee, but as he was sworn to secrecy none of his committee knew any details.

Whenever I and others attended a board meeting of the trustees, as observers, we always had to leave whenever the lease was to be discussed. Councillor Hare had to apply to the Charities Commission before his fellow trustees would let him have sight of the whole lease. The total lack of any information on the lease has been well documented.

So the answer to Councillor Cooke's letter is YES, Jacob O'Callaghan has every right to be concerned about the Park going the same way as the Palace and the community centre.

John Leach, Wellfield Avenue, N10.

Palace takeover just the beginning

Hornsey Journal | 18.4.07

YOUR front page (Journal, April 12) was certainly in tune with the times in which we are now living.

Another large public property ends up in the clutches of a "multi-millionaire entrepreneur".

This is "globalisation" in action as publicly owned and controlled amenities end up in the property portfolio of some "developer" or another.

Privatisation can never guarantee improvement but it certainly seems to ensure that whatever service is involved it will almost inevitably become more expensive. A quick glance at your latest utility bills should confirm that. Those shareholders must not be denied their hefty dividends.

With one council service after another being sold off to the private sector, our substantial Council Tax payments give a healthy glow to the balance sheets of a variety of big companies. Not necessarily UK companies, because quite a number of our utilities are now foreign owned.

Resistance to the private plunder of our public services is growing with the setting up of the "Keep our NHS public" campaign.

The need for similar campaigns is growing daily or more than Alexandra Palace will become private property.

B.C. N10.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007 | January - August

For other press cuttings please follow the links

Ally Pally set for court battle

BBC News | 20.9.07

A DATE has been set for a High Court battle between campaign group Save Ally Pally and the Charity Commission over the future of Alexandra Palace and Park.

Jacob O'Callaghan, of Save Ally Pally, argues that vital information about the sale of the 125-year lease to Firoka Ltd has been kept hidden from the public and claims the public consultation was inadequate.

Mr O'Callaghan said: "I am asking the courts to intervene to quash the decision by the Charity Commission and to get the Commission to reveal everything about the sale. This is essential as really how could the public comment when it did not know what it was commenting on?
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"It is a bit of a daunting task as it is us against the Charity Commission, Haringey Council and the Attorney General but a lot of people feel strongly about this."

The future of the historic TV studios may also be at risk, it has emerged.

Mr O'Callaghan said the defence papers issued by the Charity Commission showed that the museum space will be marketed at a commercial rate - out of reach for most charities.

The case will be heard on October 5 and is likely to last one day.

Palace battle goes to High Court

Hornsey Journal | 01.8.07

The fight to stop Alexandra Palace being leased to developers will be played out in the High Court, after campaign group Save Ally Pally served papers against the Charity Commission.

A costly judicial review was set in motion by campaign leader Jacob O'Callaghan, who is fighting the Commission's decision to allow the Palace building to be leased to multi-millionaire Firoz Kassam's company Firoka.

Mr O'Callaghan had already forced an internal review of the decision, made by Commissioners on May 4, but the Commission stuck to its guns.

Judicial Review papers were filed in the High Court last Thursday against the Commission for allowing the charitable trust to offer a 125-year lease of the Palace complex.

But before the case has even reached the court a pitched battle has erupted between the Save Ally Pally (SAP) campaign and the head of the Alexandra Palace and Park Charitable Trust, Councillor Matt Cooke.

In a lengthy statement posted on Alexandra Palace's official web site on Tuesday, Councillor Cooke tries to debunk two of SAP's central arguments.

SAP claims false information was given to the Trustees saying the charity hadn't made a profit in years and was incapable of doing so without external help.

Councillor Cooke called the comments "seriously ill-informed" and pointed to the 2007 accounts which will show Haringey Council has bailed it out to the tune of £34million in total.

He also debunks SAP's argument that a hotel on its own would be a credible alternative to leasing the whole building for redevelopment.

SAP's argument that the public consultation was flawed - because details of the lease have been kept secret - was not addressed by Councillor Cooke.

"We have never actually seen what's proposed," said Mr O'Callaghan. "What meaningful feedback can you give until you have seen the contract?"

SAP argues the public interest overrides any commercial confidentiality the lease contract may contain.

Councillor Cooke said: "Any new beginning will have to deliver its charitable objectives - to preserve the Palace as 'a place of resort and recreation forever'."

He adds: "That is what we pledged when we embarked on this process... And it is what we pledge today."

The Charities Commission said it was considering its response to the proceedings, which it has 14 days to do.

Historian's last-ditch bid to save Alexandra Palace from tycoon

By Marijke Peters | Ham and High | 13.04.07

A HORNSEY historian is to launch a legal fight to stop Ally Pally being taken over by a property tycoon.

Jacob O'Callaghan is poised to challenge the Charity Commission which he believes is about to grant the palace lease to the millionaire owner of Oxford United football club Firoz Kassam.

He claims the order approving the move - due to be made in the next few weeks - would be illegal because it provides no safeguards for the future of the world's first television studios.

Mr O'Callaghan said: "I want the court to decide if the lease is illegal. We need to establish whether the trustees of Ally Pally have a duty to ensure the historic parts of the palace are kept available to the public as I'm sure they do.

"I think the court will confirm that."

The Charity Commission is expected to make a section 36 order allowing the trustees of the Alexandra Palace and Charitable Trust to hand over the historic land-mark to Firoka in the next month.

The move would give the company the green light to start transforming the building into a luxury complex with high-class hotels and restaurants.

But the 125-year lease granted to Firoka does not require Mr Kassam to safeguard the historic television studios, where the BBC made the world's first broadcast in 1936.

Last year campaigners bombarded the Charity Commission with complaints about the scheme.

Mr O'Callaghan said: "I don't think the people's palace should become Caesar's Palace.

"There is no provision for preserving the birthplace of television and that's wrong. This palace belongs to the people of London, not just Haringey, and the decisions need to be challenged at a higher level."

Keith Fawkes, chairman of the Hornsey Historical Society, said: "I hope the historic elements of the palace will be preserved, it's the home of worldwide television and if a museum can't be created there it would be an absolute tragedy.

"There may be a lack of funding but Mr Kassam should be paying for it himself - that should have been a condition of the lease and it would have been a money spinner for him."

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: "The Commissioners who will be making this decision met on April 3 to consider the matter.

"They considered the background to the case, the points made at the meeting with the trustees and the representations received.

"There are a number of points which in their view need further clarification which will require consultation with the trustees. The trustees will shortly be approached with these further points for consideration."

Ally Pally deal gets go-ahead

Muswell Hill and Crouch End Times | 02.05.07

The Charity Commission has formally approved the leasing of Alexandra Palace to a private company.

Haringey Council, which deals with the administration surrounding the palace, needed the commission's consent to grant the 125-year lease to its preferred bidder Firoka (Heythrop Park) Ltd.

A public consultation ended in January and the commission has now approved the grant of the order in principle, a legal document drafted by the council setting out why the lease is in the interests of the Alexandra Palace and Park Charitable Trust.
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Keith Holder, of the trust, said: "The trust received written confirmation on Monday night that the order had been granted, and we expect to make a more detailed announcement in due course.

"The lease for Alexandra Palace is now unconditional, and we will complete the formalities shortly. I am delighted we have secured the future of the palace and to bring in a partner who sees the great potential in it."

The multi-millionaire Firoz Kassam, who owns Firoka (Heythrop Park) Ltd, has controversial plans to turn the palace into casino and add hotels, bars and restaurants.

Ally Pally 'boss' is one of UK's richest

Hornsey Journal | 02.05.07

THE man in charge of revitalising Alexandra Palace has made it into the annual Sunday Times Rich List with a personal fortune of £275million.

The list, published this week, says entrepreneur Firoz Kassam is the 263rd-richest man in Britain.

Although he dropped from 238th place in the 2006 list, his estimated fortune actually increased by £25million.

Mr Kassam, 52, is head of Firoka, the £150million company that has almost closed the deal for a 125-year lease of the Palace.

Once it goes through, his long-term plans include adding a hotel, cinema and new ice rink.

His assets include include Oxford United's £13million Kassam Stadium, which he built when chairman of the football club, the Heythrop Park Hotel, Oxfordshire, and the Holiday Inn at King's Cross.

Historian's last-ditch bid to save Alexandra Palace from tycoon

By Marijke Peters| Hornsey Journal | 13.04.07

A HORNSEY historian is to launch a legal fight to stop Ally Pally being taken over by a property tycoon.

Jacob O'Callaghan is poised to challenge the Charity Commission which he believes is about to grant the palace lease to the millionaire owner of Oxford United football club Firoz Kassam.

He claims the order approving the move - due to be made in the next few weeks - would be illegal because it provides no safeguards for the future of the world's first television studios.

Mr O'Callaghan said: "I want the court to decide if the lease is illegal. We need to establish whether the trustees of Ally Pally have a duty to ensure the historic parts of the palace are kept available to the public as I'm sure they do.

"I think the court will confirm that."

The Charity Commission is expected to make a section 36 order allowing the trustees of the Alexandra Palace and Charitable Trust to hand over the historic land-mark to Firoka in the next month.

The move would give the company the green light to start transforming the building into a luxury complex with high-class hotels and restaurants.

But the 125-year lease granted to Firoka does not require Mr Kassam to safeguard the historic television studios, where the BBC made the world's first broadcast in 1936.

Last year campaigners bombarded the Charity Commission with complaints about the scheme.

Mr O'Callaghan said: "I don't think the people's palace should become Caesar's Palace.

"There is no provision for preserving the birthplace of television and that's wrong. This palace belongs to the people of London, not just Haringey, and the decisions need to be challenged at a higher level."

Keith Fawkes, chairman of the Hornsey Historical Society, said: "I hope the historic elements of the palace will be preserved, it's the home of worldwide television and if a museum can't be created there it would be an absolute tragedy.

"There may be a lack of funding but Mr Kassam should be paying for it himself - that should have been a condition of the lease and it would have been a money spinner for him."

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: "The Commissioners who will be making this decision met on April 3 to consider the matter.

"They considered the background to the case, the points made at the meeting with the trustees and the representations received.

"There are a number of points which in their view need further clarification which will require consultation with the trustees. The trustees will shortly be approached with these further points for consideration."

Legal battle to protect historic people's palace
Ham and High | 12.04.07

Palace plan ‘secrecy’

By Neeta Dutta | Muswell Hill and Crouch End Times | 3.01.07

The lack of information available about the sale of Alexandra Palace means that the public consultation process is unfair and should be extended, say campaigners.

Stroud Green Residents Association (SGRA) and the newly formed Alexandra Palace Society believe that the Charity Commission should not allow the Victorian listed building to be sold to Firoka (Heythrop) Ltd until details of the proposed 125-year lease have been released. They also want the public to be able to comment on the lease. The public consultation is due to end tomorrow at 12pm.

Clive Carter, secretary of SGRA, said: "We do not have the details about the sale so how can we comment? I asked Haringey Council to see a copy of the lease under the Freedom of Information Act and I have been fobbed off. If this lease is such a good thing, as the council claims, why is it being so secretive about it? Why is it being so obstructive? The devil is in the detail and how can we say what we think if we can't even see the details?"
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The council said it has received two requests for information and both required further clarification as to what the requestors wanted to know.

Mr Carter said: "I wanted to see the lease, all this about clarifying what I wanted is nonsense. Now, if I do get to see the lease, it will be after the consultation process is over and it will be too late." A council spokeswoman said: "The clarifications arrived on December 20 and 29, 2006. We will now consider whether there is any exemption that might apply in consultation with the other parties to the information and documents requested. Neither request has been refused since the matters are still under consideration."

After tomorrow's deadline, the Charity Commission will decide whether to give its consent to Haringey Council to grant Firoka the 125-year lease.

Councillor Bob Hare, Lib Dem spokesman for Alexandra Palace, said: "I will be urging the Charity Commission to extend the consultation process. Members of the public cannot comment on the proposals until they are able to see the details behind the proposals. The preservation of the television studios, the possible removal of the organ, these are all issues that need to be in the public domain. I have always said we are not opposed to the sale in principal but we have concerns about the details of the lease."

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said: "It is up to the council whether or not to make the lease public. I would urge people to contact us with their opinions and if these include worries that not enough information has been made available, then please include this too."

We're doing all we can to save historic studios, says Beeb

Tottenham Journal | 07.03.07

THE BBC has defended its role in the future of the historic BBC studios at Alexandra Palace.

The corporation came under criticism from Keith Holder, general manager of Alexandra Palace, who said it had not done enough to ensure the preservation of its own heritage.

The BBC has said it is true it cannot spend licence payers' money for a television museum to mark the first broadcasts from the landmark in 1936. But Robin Reynolds, head of BBC heritage, pointed to a number of moves it had made to protect the studios from vanishing altogether.

It includes a submission to English Heritage that the studios are given Grade I listed building status, a move which would mean they could barely be tampered with.

Mr Reynolds has written to Councillor Charles Adje, chairman of the Alexandra Palace and Board to make sure that the corporation's input is recognised.

He urged Mr Adje to "recognise that the BBC has done as much as it can in the case of the studios".

Mr Reynolds added: "There is a limit to what we can do, but we are happy to engage and facilitate as appropriate."

The BBC says it has on three occasions contacted Firoka - the company owned by Firoz Kassam which is set to sign a 125-year lease for the Palace - to set up a meeting with Mr Kassam over the future of the studios. No meeting has been set up as yet.

Mr Reynolds says the BBC contributed £25,000 to a feasibility study on the studios in 2003 and secured a planning consultant to conduct the study. A historical survey of the south east wing, where the studios sit, was also conducted. New lighting was installed in Studio A, at the BBC's expense. An outline proposal for an academic media centre in the south wing was also led by the BBC.

An industry "brainstorming" was held on the idea, which was also discussed at the Edinburgh Television Festival. But Mr Reynolds says the idea mothballed when now-defunct proposals for a supercasino took shape. Negotiations with Firoka to take control of the Palace further stymied the idea. Firoka has said it will not fund any form of television museum and has warned that it will give up the space earmarked for it if funding is not found within three years of it taking over the Palace, should a 125-year lease be granted to them. This decision now rests with the Charity Commission.

Martin Allan, of the British Heritage Television Project, said that he was "very concerned that the studios would be lost.