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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 | September October 2007
 
Letters to the press

People's Palace.. or Caesar's Palace?
thin Line
Hornsey Journal | 24.10.07

As Judge Sullivan stated, alarms bells should have sounded when a public consultation on Alexandra Palace wasn't carried out fairly.

In my opinion, they are continuing to ring with resounding alarm since reading council leader George Meehan's and chairman of the Alexandra Palace Trust, Councillor Cooke's, statements.

They have learned nothing from the judicial decision and in the bargain the taxpayer foots the bill for a case which the majority of taxpayers that were consulted, had voted overwhelmingly against.

Now it transpires that Councillor Meehan wants the lease to go ahead in January - i.e. the decision has been made as far as the council is concerned, and therefore the public consultation that is to take place in the Christmas/New Year holiday period is mere lip service designed to achieve a low turnout. This smacks of desperation.

The Palace is said to be losing money for the council, yet has anyone mentioned the £15.6million pounds which Haringey Council is charging back to the APT in interest?

It is quite clear to me that Councillors Meehan, Cooke and the previous chairman of APT, Councillor Adje should step down for wasting taxpayers funds on a case which they should never have allowed to go to court and now openly ignoring and brazenly flouting what the Judge has advised - a full and fair public consultation.

For my part, I would rather have part of my Council Tax fund the Palace, as a national treasure housing the origins and history of television, an original Victorian Theatre, a cultural and music arena, a magnificent ice rink, a natural green expanse, a place of outstanding beauty, and so much more, than sell it in this desperate act. It is so much a part of each and every resident's lives in the area. Does anyone believe that Firoka will walk away from the sale of the century?

So which is it to be... the People's Palace or Caesar's Palace? I know which I'd rather put my chips on! - Lynne Zilkha

Board chairman should resign
thin Line
Hornsey Journal | 24.10.07


THE comments of the Labour chairman of the Ally Pally Board (Viewpoints, Journal, October 18) have no relation at all to the reality of the disastrous events in the High Court.

Firstly, he suggests that the council is not seeking to sell of the Palace at a knock down price. Perhaps Councillor Cooke would inform us of this figure so that local residents can judge for themselves whether the council struck a good deal.

Councillor Cooke says that the Lib-Dems "defend a status quo position." The Lib Dems are wholly committed to developer partnership. This does not mean that the Palace can be sold off without a proper process, without consultation with local residents and in ways that result in mockery from a High Court judge and a costly ruling for the council.

Councillor Cooke talks of "massive and increasing subsidy" at the Palace. Indeed, he recently claimed that "Haringey Council is spending around £9million a year on just keeping the Palace running." When I challenged him on this statement, he hastily removed the claim from Labour's local party website.

The root cause of this problem has been Labour mismanagement over decades, in turning a valuable asset into tens of millions of debts. Councillor Cooke should resign as Palace board chairman. -
Councillor Neil Williams (Liberal Democrat, Highgate ward), Leader of the Opposition, Haringey Council

Council gambled and lost
thin Line
Hornsey Journal | 24.10.07

A total of 328 people wrote to the Charity Commission during its "consultation" over granting of a 125-year lease of Alexandra Palace. I was one of the 324 who wrote expressing concern and who were ignored. Haringey Council is determined to turn a blind eye to the destruction of the world's first TV studios and site of the first TV broadcasting - and was seeking to cover it up. They gambled that no one would be brave enough to take them on and they lost.
C D Carter

Significant choice of words
thin Line
Hornsey Journal | 24.10.07


Your article last week ("Firoka prepared to wait for Ally Pally green light", Journal, October 18) includes a very revealing comment by David Loudfoot, general manager at the Palace, which refers to "the need to offload the venue" being more desperate than ever. It is long overdue that the existing Ally Pally so-called Charitable Trust, no more than a group of politically appointed Haringey councillors, be wound up and the whole responsibility for the Park and Palace be transferred to a new properly constituted independent trust capable of managing this hugely important asset in the long term interests of the people of London.
Lesley Tonge

All bets are off as far as Ally Pally is concerned
thin Line
Editorial comment | Ham & High| 18.01.07

Trastees to blamefor fiasco, and no one else
thin Line
Letters| Ham and High | 18.10.07

Will anyone take responsibility for this sad debacle
thin Line
Letters| Ham and High | 18.10.07

Lib Dem Policies would reduce the palace to rubble
thin Line
Matt Cooke | Ham and High | 11.10.07

In a long letter to the Ham and high, Councillor Matt Cooke, the current chair of the board of trustees of Alexandra Park and Palace Trust, blames the Lib Dems for the clear failings of a labour run Haringey to run and restore Ally Pally for the past 27 years.

Click on the image below to read

Matt Cooke letter to the Ham and High

People's Palace is just perfect for ice skating
thin Line
Hornsey Journal | 10.10.07

I MYSELF sadly never learnt to skate. But recently I have been taking my grandson to the Ally Pally skating rink.

Though the changing and refreshment facilities are tatty, the huge skating rink itself is magnificent.

And the sight of people from all walks of life skating there is pure poetry.

It echoes those wonderful winter scenes by the Dutch painter Breughel.

No other activity could so quintessentially fulfil the purpose for which the Palace for the people was built in 1873.

So if the development of the Palace goes ahead, the future of the skating rink will be a key barometer to watch.

Will the new skating rink be the same, international, size 56mx26m? (Visit the Sobell Centre to see a rink the size of a pocket hanky).

If the rink is (as currently planned) no longer at ground level, have design engineers conclusively confirmed that a suspended rink is practically and economically feasible?

If the existing rink is closed during construction, will skating continue without a break, by building a comparable temporary rink near the Palace - for example, on the flat concrete area nearby which the fun-fair uses?

David Rennie, via e-mail.

Save the palace we all love
thin Line
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 | September, October

For other press cuttings please follow the links

Historic Ally Pally 'sold for just £1.5million'

Ham & High| 25.10.07

Battle over repayment of Ally Pally's £100m

Hornsey Journal | 24.10.07

A TOTAL of £100million has been spent on Alexandra Palace by Haringey Council since 1990 - and the money is unlikely ever to be repaid, says the Palace trust.

The sum includes almost £35million in financial support to the Palace and £65million in debt repayment for works following a 1980 fire.

A trust spokesman said: "The charity is in no position to repay any of that."

The trust says the council has annually been paying around £1.5million in revenue support and £7.5million to a debt due to be repaid in full by 2008-2009.

"It is always understood that the local Council Tax payer picks up the bill," he said.

But the Save Ally Pally campaign, which is battling to stop the Palace being leased to property developers Firoka, disputes the figures, arguing the charity does not owe the council a penny.

Jacob O'Callaghan, a campaign member, said: "There is no debt. If you repeat a lie, make it a big one, keep repeating it, most of the masses unless they have different information will end up believing it - but it's still a lie."

Fellow member Martin Hay said: "They're trying to say it's been a cost to the Haringey taxpayer - we're saying for the last 10 years there's been no Haringey rate payer's money that has gone to the charity."

Councillor Matt Cooke, chairman of the board of trustees, replied: "To suggest that the council has not put money in over the last 10 years means that the Save Ally Pally campaign either does not understand basic accounting or the accounts of the Trust or they are happy to misrepresent the situation and mislead local residents who financially support the charity through their Council Tax."

Save Ally Pally is working on plans to replace the existing trustees with a new board including some "high powered people" by March next year.

"We're drawing up a better deal, a plan B, with a proper trusteeship of people actually interested in the palace and competent to run it and not just Haringey councillors," said Mr O'Callaghan.

Councillor Cooke said: "The suggestion that trustees are not interested in the Palace is insulting nonsense and Mr O'Callaghan ignores the fact that lay members on the board include user groups and local residents as well as councillors are all striving to do the best for Ally Pally."

The increasingly run-down palace is said to be suffering due to increased competition from other venues, such as The O2 and the new Wembley Stadium.

"It's one of the reasons why multi-million pound investment is needed so desperately," said Councillor Cooke.

But Mr O'Callaghan said: "The real reason it's not getting so much business is because they keep trying to flog the business off and putting doubt in the exhibition market about those running it.

Campaigners fighting to save Ally Pally threaten legal action

Ham and High | 18.10.07

To read, click on the image to enlarge.

Why I'm determined to prevent disposal of the people's palace

By Jacob O'Callaghan | Ham and High | 18.10.07

January target for Ally Pally handover

Hornsey Journal | 17.10.07

AILING Alexandra Palace could be signed over to developers as early as January next year.

Councillor George Meehan, leader of Haringey Council, revealed the date at Monday night's full council meeting, saying the deal could be achieved if everything ran smoothly.

His remarks suggest that part of the public consultation on the deal to lease the Palace to multi-millionaire Firoz Kassam will take place over the Christmas holiday period.

Speaking in the council chamber, Councillor Meehan said he noted "with regret" the High Court judgement that has set the handover process back by several months at least, costing the council more money to keep the charitable trust above board.

He said the Palace and Park's board of trustees "could be in the position to grant the lease as early as January next year".

Calls were also made for the chair of Alexandra Palace's trading company, Councillor Charles Adje (Labour), to stand down by Liberal Democrat councillor Bob Hare and opposition leader Councillor Neil Williams.

Councillor Williams called it "entirely unacceptable" that Councillor Adje should be chairman of the board of directors of the trading company at the same time as he is cabinet member for resources - handling, among other things, corporate finance and asset management.

Councillor Adje said he was only staying as chairman of the trading company because, "we were hoping by now that the company could be liquidated and there would be no need for the trading arm to continue". He added: "Yes, I now have to consider my position on the board and I have to discuss with the board of trustees as to a way forward."

Councillor Hare later told the Journal he would be calling for the resignation of Councillor Adje from his trading company position at the next meeting of the Board of Trustees, on October 30, if he had not already stood down.

Is the venue worth the cash it takes to keep it going?

Hornsey Journal | 17.10.07

Firoka 'prepared to wait' for Ally Pally green light

Hornsey Journal | 17.10.07


THE man supposedly about to walk away from the £55million redevelopment of Alexandra Palace has performed a U-turn.

Firoz Kassam's company Firoka has now told Ally Pally's Board of Trustees that it's no longer threatening to bail out of the deal to run the Palace on October 17 - as was claimed in the High Court.

Ian Harris, legal advisor to the Palace's Board of Trustees, told them at a special meeting last Wednesday that Firoka is now prepared to wait another six months to take control of it.

He said: "In discussions since Friday with Firoka... they have not made a final decision and for the time being they are prepared to negotiate and discuss."

He added: "My assessment is that if Firoka cannot complete by March/ April 2008, it's going to be difficult to keep them interested."

David Loudfoot, general manager of the Palace, implied the need to offload the venue was more desperate than ever.

He said: "There is no denying we are two years on from the time this board originally expected to hand this building over. There has been two years of costs.

"The longer this goes on the more it's going to cost to keep going."

A spokeswoman for Mr Kassam said he would not be commenting further at the moment, but Councillor Matt Cooke, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said: "Our message to those who love the Palace is: we are on your side and today we started on what we all hope is the last chapter in the fight to save Ally Pally."

He added he was "delighted" that the Board had unanimously agreed last week to apply to the Charities Commission once more for it to grant permission for the Board to go ahead with the lease - subject to a new public consultation.

The recent High Court case brought against the Charities Commission and the way it carried out the last public consultation on the Palace's future will cost Haringey taxpayers approximately £15,000.

The judge ordered the Alexandra Palace Board of Trustees, listed as an interested party in the case, to pay 50 per cent of the costs incurred by the Save Ally Pally campaign group in bringing the case. Haringey Council will, in effect, pay the cost.


Alexandra Palace: court blocks Labour's plans

Lynn Featherstone | 14.10.0

This week's historic court judgement on Alexandra Palace (courts blocked the planned sell-off) is a damning indictment of the behaviour of the Labour councillors who rammed through the deal on Ally Pally with Firoz Kassam's Firoka group. It is justice being done and seen to be done (see Hornsey Journal here and here and Ham & High coverage).

A real local hero, Jacob O'Calloghan (who is a local historian), is the David who took on the giant of the Labour establishment over their now found to be much wanting 'sale' of Alexandra Palace. Throughout the process Labour steamrollered through an inadequate consultation process in which they refused to let anyone know the terms of the contract. Yes - they were told. Time and time again local campaigners and Liberal Democrat councillors raised these issues - but Labour ignored voices that contradicted their plans.

And the Charity Commission, tasked with the proper conduct of charities such as Ally Pally, showed itself to not only be toothless but in my view negligent in their duties.

The judge was clearly appalled by what has gone on and had no qualms about saying so. During Friday's hearing Mr Justice Jeremy Sullivan attacked the Charity Commission for being "completely unreasonable and wholly unrealistic" in its treatment of residents' concerns.

He suggested that a fresh consultation process be launched and the lease be made available for people to see so they could make an informed decision about whether they agree with it.

But where are we now? Well Matt Cooke (the Labour Chair of the Ally Pally board) has refused to take any responsibility for this stinging judicial rebuke. He should resign without question - but he has instead spent his time writing to the local papers to churn out the sort of rubbish his quote in the Ham & High demonstrates:

"Our priority throughout has been to restore the palace for future generations of Londoners whilst removing the financial burden of running the palace and servicing its debts from the shoulders of Haringey taxpayers. We have no reason to assume achieving this objective is no longer possible and every reason to consider fulfilment is just a few short months away despite the temporary delay caused by the High Court."

Haringey taxpayers have suffered long and hard and expensively - but only because of Labour's incompetence over decades. Getting this judgement simply demonstrates why Matt Cooke and Labour need to get booted out altogether. They don't even admit it when they are exposed as incompetents who freeze out meaningful public consultation - as with this example from last year:

Imagine the scene. A group of residents want to lobby Haringey Council about the plans to hand over Alexandra Palace to the Firoka group.

What does Labour do? They say, no - you can't lobby the full council meeting, you must go to the Palace Board meeting. And when is the next Board meeting they can go to ... not until after the decision will have been made about whether to give Firoka the site!

You can have your say, but only when it's too late with Haringey Labour!

And the real issue is that the Palace could be a wonderful resource for local people and the wider population - but with Labour's handling that opportunity is being wasted, yet again.


This week's historic court judgement on Alexandra Palace (courts blocked the planned sell-off) is a damning indictment of the behaviour of the Labour councillors who rammed through the deal on Ally Pally with Firoz Kassam's Firoka group. It is justice being done and seen to be done (see Hornsey Journal here and here and Ham & High coverage).

A real local hero, Jacob O'Calloghan (who is a local historian), is the David who took on the giant of the Labour establishment over their now found to be much wanting 'sale' of Alexandra Palace. Throughout the process Labour steamrollered through an inadequate consultation process in which they refused to let anyone know the terms of the contract. Yes - they were told. Time and time again local campaigners and Liberal Democrat councillors raised these issues - but Labour ignored voices that contradicted their plans.

And the Charity Commission, tasked with the proper conduct of charities such as Ally Pally, showed itself to not only be toothless but in my view negligent in their duties.

The judge was clearly appalled by what has gone on and had no qualms about saying so. During Friday's hearing Mr Justice Jeremy Sullivan attacked the Charity Commission for being "completely unreasonable and wholly unrealistic" in its treatment of residents' concerns.

He suggested that a fresh consultation process be launched and the lease be made available for people to see so they could make an informed decision about whether they agree with it.

But where are we now? Well Matt Cooke (the Labour Chair of the Ally Pally board) has refused to take any responsibility for this stinging judicial rebuke. He should resign without question - but he has instead spent his time writing to the local papers to churn out the sort of rubbish his quote in the Ham & High demonstrates:

"Our priority throughout has been to restore the palace for future generations of Londoners whilst removing the financial burden of running the palace and servicing its debts from the shoulders of Haringey taxpayers. We have no reason to assume achieving this objective is no longer possible and every reason to consider fulfilment is just a few short months away despite the temporary delay caused by the High Court."

Haringey taxpayers have suffered long and hard and expensively - but only because of Labour's incompetence over decades. Getting this judgement simply demonstrates why Matt Cooke and Labour need to get booted out altogether. They don't even admit it when they are exposed as incompetents who freeze out meaningful public consultation - as with this example from last year:

Imagine the scene. A group of residents want to lobby Haringey Council about the plans to hand over Alexandra Palace to the Firoka group.

What does Labour do? They say, no - you can't lobby the full council meeting, you must go to the Palace Board meeting. And when is the next Board meeting they can go to ... not until after the decision will have been made about whether to give Firoka the site!

You can have your say, but only when it's too late with Haringey Labour!

And the real issue is that the Palace could be a wonderful resource for local people and the wider population - but with Labour's handling that opportunity is being wasted, yet again.

High Court ruling puts Ally Pally project in jeopardy

By Deirdere Hipwell | Property Week| 14.10.07

Palace group wins High Court victory

By Neeta Dutta | Haingey Independent | 12.10.07

Trust must consult properly on lease sale.

Alexandra Palace trustees have decided to push ahead with plans to grant a long lease to private company Firoka despite a High Court setback last week.

A judicial review on Friday found in favour of historian Jacob O'Callaghan, of the Save Ally Pally campaign group, who argued that the Charity Commission should not have approved the sale without the trustees first consulting fully with residents.

The Palace trustees have now pledged to conduct a fuller consultation with the public if the Charity Commission approves the the sale of the Palace's 125-year lease to Firoka.

Justice Sir Jeremy Sullivan ruled that the previous consultation had not been effective or fair and was fundamentally flawed. He quashed the order of the lease and awarded £30,000 costs to Mr O'Callaghan.

In his ruling, the judge described how, in 2004, Fiona McTaggart, then a Home Office under-secretary, gave an assurance in Parliament that there would be a proper consultation on the future of the Palace. But he said this had not taken place because the full details of the lease were not disclosed to the public.

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, said: "This has brought shame on the Labour councillors running the Palace. All along, they have refused to listen and shown their contempt for the entire process.

"As the Lib Dems warned at the Haringey Council meeting in July, there are so many unanswered questions about this lease, it beggars belief that anyone can have thought the consultation was adequate."

Councillor Matt Cooke, chairman of trustees at Alexandra Palace Charitable Trust, said they were disappointed by the High Court decision.

The trustees' barrister, Tom Hickman, argued during the case that Firoka's owner, millionaire Firoz Kassam, had stated his intention to withdraw if the lease was quashed.

Despite this, trustees voted unanimously on Wednesday to re-apply to the Charity Commission to grant the 125-year lease to Firoka. The proposed £55million development would include restaurants, cafes, a hotel, casino, refurbished exhibition halls, a new ice rink and bowling facilities.

Mr Cooke said: "Last week's ruling makes the roadmap we must follow in the coming months, in order to secure our long-held objective, all the clearer.

"We welcome the opportunity this will bring for further consultation with the public who have time and time again shown their deep affection for this historic landmark. Despite the events of last week, we now have a clear way forward and we are getting on with the business of securing Ally Pally's future."

Mr O'Callaghan said: "It was nice to have had a victory at the High Court and it was truly a group effort, but the battle is far from over. We are determined to protect the TV studios and there is still a way to go."

The Save Ally Pally group wants to see responsibility for the Grade II-listed building transferred from Haringey Council to other organisations, such as English Heritage, the BBC, or the Arts Council.

What happens next for Historic Ally Pally?

Marijke Peters | Ham and High | 11.10.07
To read, click on the image to enlarge.

Ham and High 11.10.07 Click to enlarge

Ruling threatens Ally Pally's future

Ham and High | 11.10.07 | Click here to read

Ally Pally: £55m takeover blocked by High Court

Hornsey Journal | 10.10.07

A HIGH Court judge has blocked plans for the proposed £55million redevelopment of historic Alexandra Palace.

The shock move came after top planning law judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Sullivan, ruled that there had been "a fatal flaw" in the consultation process running up to the grant of consent for the scheme.

The ruling last Friday came as a stunning victory for the Save Ally Pally campaign and other objectors. Their lawyers had claimed in court that they had not been given a proper chance to comment on the final proposals to re-vamp the site of the 130-year-old landmark which was the birthplace of television.

In his decision the judge held that there had been a refusal to disclose the contents of a lease in time for public consultations which had been promised by a Government minister. This, he found, rendered the whole consultation process invalid and meant that the process would now have to be reopened.

The decision raises the possibility that the whole redevelopment, which includes a casino, could end up having to be scrapped.

The judge's decision comes as a blow to entrepreneur Firoz Kassam, former chairman of Oxford United Football Club.

The judge quashed the Charity Commission's order permitting the Palace trustees to enter into a 125-year lease with Kassam's development company, Firoka Group.

Firoka was selected as preferred investment partner in January 2006. It plans to refurbish the exhibition halls, add a 150-bedroom hotel, bars and restaurants, and provide public leisure facilities.

In the wake of the Friday ruling, Save Ally Pally campaign leader Jacob O'Callaghan said it was "a joke" to argue that the public had been adequately consulted simply by putting up display boards about the development in the palace's Palm Court.

He addded: "Alexandra Palace is the birth place of television, part of cultural history. There is even a casino planned for it. This is a people's palace, not Caesar's Palace."

In his ruling, the judge described how Fiona McTaggart, then under-secretary for the Home Department, gave an assurance in Parliament in 2004 that there would be a proper consultation on the future of the palace after public concerns were raised.

But members of the public were told by Haringey council, the current trustees, that an agreement had been reached with Firoka to keep details of the lease and project confidential.

In his decision the judge said it was "a nonsense" for a Government minister to promise consultation in Parliament, only for interested persons to be told they were not going to be given the information they needed so they could comment on what was proposed under the lease.

He said that the secrecy that had taken place had rendered the consultation process "manifestly ineffectual and unfair", the judge said. He added : "I find it difficult to understand how the Commission could have thought that this was a fair process.

"One would have thought the alarm bells would have been ringing loud and clear."

He referred to the irony that, soon after the consultation process had ended, a redacted version of the lease had been obtained by one consultee under the Freedom of Information Act.

The judge said he had been told by Tom Hickman, appearing for the trustees, that Firoka was "likely to walk away" from the project if there had to be further consultation and the lease was not signed by its October 17 deadline. But the judge ruled that in all the circumstances the Commission's order had to be quashed as fatally flawed.

Councillor Matt Cooke, chairman of trustees at Alexandra Palace Charitable Trust, said: "Naturally we are extremely disappointed at the setback that today's decision represents.

"The priority for the trustees has always been, and remains, to secure the future of Alexandra Palace for future generations of Londoners, and to remove the financial burden from the London Borough of Haringey.

"What is for certain is that the current situation, whereby 40 per cent of the Palace is derelict and the council is forced to support the Palace with hundreds of thousands of pounds a year is not sustainable.

"As trustees, we will be reviewing our options in the coming days and will make a further statement in due course.

Ally Pally: Firoka 'may pull out of Palace deal'

Hornsey Journal | 10.10.07


SIGNIFICANT doubt now hangs over whether developer Firoka will pull out of the deal to lease Ally Pally.

With the order to grant the 125-year lease to Firoka - waved through by the Charities Commission earlier this year - now quashed, it will be impossible for Firoka and the Palace Trustees to sign any lease by the self-imposed deadline next week.

Mr Justice Jeremy Sullivan said he had been told by Tom Hickman, appearing for the Trustees, that Firoka was "likely to walk away" from the Ally Pally project if there had to be further consultation and the lease was not signed by its October 17 deadline.

This means the ambitious plans for the Palace by Firoka's owner, multi-millionaire entrepreneur Firoz Kassam, may never be realised.

They included a hotel, restaurants, cinema, a new "international standard" ice rink, gym, casino, nightclub, bowling alley, refurbished theatre, museum, children's play area, shops, cafes, market, recording studio, bistro/wine cellar, conference and office space.

Apart from setting the entire process back by at least 18 months, if Mr Kassam does leave the project at this stage, he could try and reclaim some of his costs, either from the Charities Commission or Haringey Council, which already faces having to underwrite costs awarded against the Trustees.

Mr Kassam was out of the country and unavailable for comment before the Journal went to press.

Ally Pally: Fight goes on, say campaigners

Hornsey Journal | 10.10.07

LAST week's High Court victory is just the beginning of the battle for the future of Ally Pally - which could end up in National Trust hands, say campaigners.

Conservation group Save Ally Pally's Jacob O'Callaghan told the Journal: "It must be clear to everyone now that the Palace cannot be properly run by one local council. The judge said one of the most absurd things was the argument that the display board put up in the Palace was sufficient for consultation, when people are interested in the TV studios all over the country and indeed all over the world.

"I hope now that this will be a wake-up call to the Trustees and the Charities Commission that the Palace returning to London-wide or national ownership is the only way forward. It would be better that that happened very quickly, in months rather than years."

He suggested the National Trust or English Heritage would be suitable trustees - poles apart from the commercial ends that Firoz Kassam's Firoka had in mind.

Mr O'Callaghan added there were further legal fights ahead, saying: "That was just the hors d'oeuvres of the legal proceedings. Now we are determined to proceed with proceedings in the Chancery Division to find out what the financial situation of the Palace Trustees is. We think they are very different to how they have been portrayed by the Trustees."

He added: "We also want to find out exactly what kind of development can be done under the Ally Pally Parliamentary Act.


Ally Pally: Trustees' chairman is urged to resign over ruling 'shame'

Hornsey Journal | 10.10.07


THE chairman of Alexandra Palace's Charitable Trust has dismissed calls for him to resign.

Demands that Labour councillor Matt Cooke step down immediately were made after it was claimed he failed to discuss the High Court case with his fellow Trustees, who were not made aware of what lawyers were arguing on their behalves.

Hornsey and Wood Green Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone joined members of the Save Ally Pally campaign group in demanding Councillor Cooke's resignation.

Jacob O'Callaghan, of the Save Ally Pally campaign, said: "He is one of the people responsible for carrying on these hopeless proceedings. There hasn't been a meeting of the Trustees since the filing of this case. They haven't had a chance to say whether they think the charity should oppose this and they have not been told what the lawyers have been doing supposedly on their behalves. I think he should take the responsibility for it."

Ms Featherstone said the ruling had "brought shame on the Labour councillors running the Palace," adding: "All along, they have refused to listen and shown their contempt for the entire process.

"There are so many unanswered questions about this lease, it beggars belief that anyone can have thought the consultation was adequate."

Councillor Cooke is the third chairman of Trustees since the lease idea was suggested, with Labour councillor Charles Adje and ex-councillor Viv Manheim also having taken the lead role.

Councillor Cooke said the Trustees had "no reason" to assume their aim of restoring the Palace and removing the financial burden of it was no longer possible, "and every reason to consider the fulfilment of this objective as just a few short months away". He said: "Because of this, it is absurd to suggest that I should resign as chair of trustees - a suggestion which I dismiss as politically motivated and short-termist."

Defending the lack of board meetings since the High Court case was filed, he said Trustees had "decided conclusively to follow our present course many years ago, supported by resolutions of the recent meetings of the board," and he remained confident the Trustees would "achieve their objectives".

Haringey Council will have to pick up the legal bill for the case, but it is not yet known how much.

Ally Pally scheme is blocked

Building Design | 12.10.07

Plans for a £55 million redevelopment of south-west London’s famous Alexandra Palace by Aukett Fitzroy Robinson were blocked by the High Court last week.

The scheme, including an exhibition space, 150-bed hotel, cinema, bowling alley, ice rink, museum, retail space and restaurants and bars, for developer Firoz Kassam, is now uncertain because of a “fatal flaw” in the consultation process, the court ruled.

Save Ally Pally campaigners celebrated after a judge quashed a Charity Commission order permitting palace trustees to enter into a lease agreement with the developer.

Alexandra Palace plans in tatters

Christian Metcalfe | Estates Fazette | 08.10.07 | 09:15

The redevelopment of London landmark Alexandra Palace looks set to fall apart after a 125-year lease granted to the developer was blocked by the High Court on Friday.

Despite protestations by trustees for the Grade II Listed building a judge found that the public consultation on the development agreement and lease promised by the government had been “fatally flawed” and the lease must be quashed.

Heritage campaigner Jacob O’Callaghan was challenging the grant of the lease on the grounds that its details had not been seen by the public during consultation because the Charity Commission, the trustees and developer Firoka had agreed its terms were confidential and must not be disclosed.

Justice Mr SullivanAt the start of the hearing in Court 28 of the Royal Courts of Justice, without hearing submissions from O’Callaghan, Mr Justice Jeremy Sullivan made a characteristically forceful statement asking the Commission and the trustees why he should not quash the lease.


He said his provisional view was that the consultation had “made a nonsense of the promise of consultation and had stopped it from having any real effect” and “I can not understand why alarm bells were not ringing deafeningly loud as to fairness.

Mr Justice Jeremy Sullivan

He added: “I am driven to the point of incredulity when I consider how a private agreement reached between the commission and trustees could negate a consultation exercise publicly promised by a minister in Parliament.”

Tom Hickman, barrister for the trustees, submitted that even if the consultation was flawed, which they did not accept, the judge should exercise his discretion not to quash the lease.

Tom Hickman -
Barrister for the trustees

He claimed that the witness statement of Firoka’s owner Firoz Kassam “clearly states his intention to withdraw” if the lease was quashed and that “the market is suffering from Alexandra Palace fatigue” so “in all likelihood this project will not go ahead and in all likelihood no other developer will be found”.

Accordingly he argued there would be “potentially very great prejudice to the charity, and the public interest it serves, by the whole development project being scuppered.”

David Wolfe -
Barrister for Save Ally pally
Allowing O’Callaghan’s challenge, Sullivan J repeated his earlier view and said that the grant of the lease was unlawful and it must be quashed.

Following judgment the trustees said they were “extremely disappointed at the set back” but “The priority for the trustees has always been, and remains, to secure the future of Alexandra Palace for future generations of Londoners, and to remove the financial burden from the London Borough of Haringey.


“What is for certain is that the current situation, whereby 40% of the Palace is derelict and the Council is forced to support the Palace with hundreds of thousands of pounds a year is not sustainable. As trustees, we will be reviewing our options in the coming days and will make a further statement in due course,” he added.

Firoz Kassam
Firoka’s bos

Firoka’s plans for the complex, which has lain semi–derelict since a fire in 1980, included the refurbishment of the exhibition space, a 120– to–150–bedroom luxury hotel, a restaurant and bars and a new leisure facility, including an ice rink, bowling alley, healthclub and crèche.

Judge slams government over consultation

Planning Resource | 8.10.07

Plans for a redevelopment of historic Alexandra Palace have been blocked by a judge because of "a fatal flaw" in the consultation process.

The ruling was a victory for the Save Ally Pally campaign and other objectors who say they were denied a proper chance to comment on the final proposals for the 130-year-old landmark and birthplace of television in north London.

Mr Justice Sullivan said a refusal to disclose the contents of a lease in time for public consultations promised by a government minister meant the whole consultation process would now have to be reopened.

There are fears that his ruling could "scupper" the redevelopment, which includes a casino.

The judge's decision came as a blow to entrepreneur Firoz Kassam, former chairman of Oxford United Football Club.

The judge quashed the Charity Commission's order permitting the Palace trustees to enter into a 125-year lease with Kassam's development company, Firoka Group.

Firoka was selected as preferred investment partner in January 2006. It plans a £55 million refurbishment of the exhibition halls, add a 150-bedroom hotel, bars and restaurants, and provide public leisure facilities.

After today's ruling, Save Ally Pally campaign leader Jacob O'Callaghan said it was "a joke" to argue that the public had been adequately consulted simply by putting up display boards about the development in the palace's grounds.

"Alexandra Palace is the birth place of television, part of cultural history," he said. "What does a display board mean to anyone outside the area, let alone someone living in America or Russia?"

In his ruling, the judge described how Fiona McTaggart, then under-secretary for the Home Department, gave an assurance in Parliament in 2004 that there would be a proper consultation on the future of Alexander Palace after public concerns were raised.

But members of the public were told by Haringey council, the current trustees, that an agreement had been reached with Firoka to keep details of the lease and project confidential.

In a hard-hitting ruling, the judge said it was "a nonsense" for a government minister to promise consultation in Parliament, only for interested persons to be told they were not going to be given the information they needed so they could comment on what was proposed under the lease.

This secrecy had made the Ally Pally consultation process "manifestly ineffectual and unfair", the judge said.

He said consideration should have been given to providing consultees with redacted copies of the lease and agreement so that sensitive commercial information was not revealed, but enough information was disclosed to allow for meaningful consultation"

"I find it difficult to understand how the commission could have thought that this was a fair process."

Ally Pally plan hit by 'fatal flaw'

By David Horne | Oxford Mail | 7.10.07

Former Oxford United chairman Firoz Kassam was dealt a blow in the High Court in his plans to redevelop historic Alexandra Palace.

Plans for the 52-year-old businessman's £55m redevelopment were blocked because of "a fatal flaw" in the consultation process.

The ruling was a victory for the Save Ally Pally campaign and other objectors who say they were denied a proper chance to comment on the final proposals for the 130-year-old landmark and birthplace of television in north London.

Mr Justice Sullivan ruled a refusal to disclose the contents of a lease in time for public consultations promised by a Government minister meant the whole consultation process would now have to be reopened.

There are fears that his ruling could scupper the redevelopment, which includes a casino.

The judge quashed the Charity Commission's order permitting the Palace trustees to enter into a 125-year lease with Mr Kassam's development company, Firoka Group.

Firoka was selected as preferred investment partner in January 2006.

After Friday's ruling, Save Ally Pally campaign leader Jacob O'Callaghan said: "Alexandra Palace is the birthplace of television, part of cultural history."

Victory for Save Ally Pally at High Court

By Neeta Dutta | This Is Local London | 8.10.07

PLANS for the £55 milllion redevelopment of Alexandra Palace have been blocked after the decision by the Charity Commission to grant the 125-year lease to private company Firoka was quashed by the High Court on Friday.

A judicial review found in favour of historian Jacob O'Callaghan of the Save Ally Pally campaign group, who argued that the Charity Commission should not have approved the sale without first consulting with residents fully.

Justice Sir Jeremy Sullivan ruled that the consultation has not been effective, fair and was fundamentally flawed. He quashed the order of the lease and costs were awarded to Mr O'Callaghan.
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Councillor Matt Cooke, chairman of trustees at Alexandra Palace Charitable Trust, said: "Naturally we are extremely disappointed at the set back that today's (Oct 5) decision represents. The priority for the trustees has always been, and remains, to secure the future of Alexandra Palace for future generations of Londoners, and to remove the financial burden from the London Borough of Haringey.

"What is for certain is that the current situation, whereby 40 per cent of the Palace is derelict and the Council is forced to support the Palace with hundreds of thousands of pounds a year is not sustainable.

"As trustees, we will be reviewing our options in the coming days and will make a further statement in due course."

Court rejects £55m Palace plans

northlondon.org.uk | 7.10.07

Developers want to add a hotel and casino to the 130-year-old north London venue, the High Court heard.

But Mr Justice Sullivan said lease details were not given in time for public consultation, so the whole consultation process must be reopened.

Save Ally Pally campaigners branded earlier public consultation "a joke".

Alexandra Palace opened as a recreation centre known as "the people's palace" in 1873, but burned down 16 days later.

It was rebuilt and the BBC made the first public television transmissions from its eastern building in 1936.

Firoz Kassam, the former chairman of Oxford United Football Club, wants to refurbish the building's exhibition halls, add a 150-bedroom hotel, casino, bars and restaurants, and provide public leisure facilities on the site.

But on Friday the judge quashed a Charity Commission order which permitted palace trustees to enter into a 125-year lease with Mr Kassam's development company, Firoka Group.

After the ruling, Save Ally Pally campaign leader Jacob O'Callaghan said public consultation had just consisted of display boards about the development being placed in the palace's Palm Court.

"Alexandra Palace is the birthplace of television, part of cultural history," Mr O'Callaghan said.

"What does a display board mean to anyone outside the area, let alone someone living in America or Russia?

"There is even a casino planned for it. This is a people's palace, not Caesar's Palace."

Ally Pally development plans stalled
The times | 6.10.07

Plans for a £55 million redevelopment of Alexandra Palace were blocked by a High Court judge because of “a fatal flaw” in the consultation process.

The ruling was a victory for the Save Ally Pally campaign, which says that it was denied a proper chance to comment on the final proposals for the 130-year-old landmark and birthplace of television in North London.

Mr Justice Sullivan ruled that a refusal to disclose the contents of a lease in time for public consultations meant that the consultation process would have to be reopened.

The judge quashed the Charity Commission’s order permitting the Palace trustees to enter into a 125-year lease with Firoz Kassam’s development company, Firoka Group.

They planned to refurbish the exhibition halls, add a 150-bedroom hotel, bars and restaurants, and provide public leisure facilities.

There are fears that his ruling could scupper the redevelopment, which includes a casino.

Court rejects £55m Palace plans Alexandra Palace

BBC News | 5.10.07

Plans for a £55m redevelopment of Alexandra Palace have been blocked because of a "fatal flaw" in the consultation process.

Developers want to add a hotel and casino to the 130-year-old north London venue, the High Court heard.

But Mr Justice Sullivan said lease details were not given in time for public consultation, so the whole consultation process must be reopened.

Save Ally Pally campaigners branded earlier public consultation "a joke".

Alexandra Palace opened as a recreation centre known as "the people's palace" in 1873, but burned down 16 days later.

It was rebuilt and the BBC made the first public television transmissions from its eastern building in 1936.

Firoz Kassam, the former chairman of Oxford United Football Club, wants to refurbish the building's exhibition halls, add a 150-bedroom hotel, casino, bars and restaurants, and provide public leisure facilities on the site.

But on Friday the judge quashed a Charity Commission order which permitted palace trustees to enter into a 125-year lease with Mr Kassam's development company, Firoka Group.

After the ruling, Save Ally Pally campaign leader Jacob O'Callaghan said public consultation had just consisted of display boards about the development being placed in the palace's Palm Court.

"Alexandra Palace is the birthplace of television, part of cultural history," Mr O'Callaghan said.

"What does a display board mean to anyone outside the area, let alone someone living in America or Russia?

"There is even a casino planned for it. This is a people's palace, not Caesar's Palace."

Alexandra Palace loses legal challenge

By Deirdre Hipwell
| Property Week | 5.10.07

Plans for the redevelopment of Alexandra Palace were thrown into disarray this afternoon after the High Court ruled the Charity Commission’s decision to allow the redevelopment was ‘fatally flawed’.

North London resident Jacob O’Callaghan sought a judicial review of the Commission’s decision to allow Haringey Council, which owns the 7.5 acre Palace, and the Palace Charitable Trust to grant a 125-year lease to Firoz Kassam’s Firoka Group.

The order by the Commission was the final hurdle for the charitable trust owner to dispose of the lease, which became unconditional following the granting of the order.

Kassam was selected as preferred investment partner in January 2006. He plans a £55m redevelopment of the historic venue.
Click here to find out more!

The Judge in his ruling quashed the Charity Commission’s order and said it was fatally flawed because all consultees were not made aware of the details of the lease and could not respond meaningfully to the consultation.

Councillor Matt Cooke, chairman of trustees at Alexandra Palace Charitable Trust, said: ‘Naturally we are extremely disappointed at the set back that today's decision represents. The priority for the trustees has always been, and remains, to secure the future of Alexandra Palace for future generations of Londoners, and to remove the financial burden from the London Borough of Haringey.

What is for certain is that the current situation, whereby 40% of the Palace is derelict and the Council is forced to support the Palace with hundreds of thousands of pounds a year is not sustainable. As trustees, we will be reviewing our options in the coming days and will make a further statement in due course.’

BLOCKED: Court scuppers sale of Ally Pally

hamhigh.co.uk | 5.10.07 | London24.com

A SHOCK decision has plunged the future of Alexandra Palace into doubt - with high court judges blocking the sale of the famous landmark to Firoz Kassam.

Mr Kassam planned to turn the former home of the BBC into a multimillion pound leisure complex, but on Friday afternoon a judicial review found in favour of historian Jacob O'Callaghan, who claimed Mr Kassam's 125-year lease of Ally Pally was illegal.

He argued that the Charity Commission should not have approved the sale, without first consulting with residents.

Mr O'Callaghan had brought the review because he felt the lease did not safeguard the future of the palace's TV studios, where the BBC made the world's first television broadcast in 1936.

To find out more about the decision read the Ham&High Broadway, out on October 11.

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.