Chaos And Discontent At The Palace | 9.11.07
A major concern of the Save Ally Pally Campaign is that the staff of the Palace and Park are being treated in an unprofessional and cavalier manner by the “squatting” Firoka management. There is deep discontent amongst the staff and we understand that their concerns are not being addressed.
As of today’s date, the trustees of Alexandra Palace and Park are still allowing the occupation of the palace by Firoka. It would appear that Firoka have been handed the management and revenues of the Palace’s trading activities and the trustees have confirmed that if this situation continues the loss to Haringey tax payers will be approximately £1.75 million per year; this is made up of £750,000 cost of maintaining the park and £1million being the cost of maintaining the Palace. Up to now, the Palace has generated sufficient revenue to pay for those costs. How can the trustees be carrying out their responsibilities if they have handed over the Palace to a private company to run and have not thought that it was necessary to charge them any rent or licence fee? Firoka are making huge profits out of running a business where they are not paying any rent, maintenance or other costs. This incompetence is the latest in a long line of mismanagement by the trustees. We once again call for their resignation and the appointment of new independent non-political trustees who will take personal responsibility.
The trustees are burying their heads in the sand while the chaos and discontent at the Palace increases on a daily basis. They refuse to explain what is going on and it is evident that they have no plan to deal with the current situation where Firoka are very unlikely to be granted permission to occupy. Says member Clive Carter:
“The chaos and confusion at the Palace is a symptom of the inability of the Trustees to deal with the management of Alexandra Palace and Park. Their proposal to sell the Palace for less than the price of a house in Muswell Hill was flawed and as the High Court recently said “The Trustees are the authors of their own misfortune”.
"Why should Firoka be profiting more than £1million a year which is being paid for by Haringey? Wouldn’t this money be better spend on Social Services and education?"
"And the Palace are gambling with irregularities over the AP licence application, for which – true to form – none of the committees – not even the Board of Trustees itself – has been consulted."
Danger not yet over for Ally Pally, says campaign group | 9.10.07
The Save Ally Pally Campaign say they are planning yet more action to avert the danger of a “fire-sale sell-off” of Alexandra Palace, following their sensational victory in the High Court.
“It is clear the present trusteeship, an impoverished local council, cannot continue. They simply have not got the resources or experience to get the best deal for Ally Pally and Londoners”, said a spokesperson.
“The Board of Trustees must be handed back to a wider body representative of the rights to the use of Ally Pally of the whole of London and the nation, who are capable of and interested in maintaining Alexandra Palace and Park for public use under its trusts.
“This could include representatives of the various councils in North London, The GLA, English Heritage, BBC, The Arts Council and individuals who have experience in community, heritage and educational areas.”
The Campaign is seeking meetings with the Chief Executive of Haringey Council and the Chair of the Charity Commission to discuss a handover of responsibilities for the Grade II-listed building, held under a charitable trust.
“Discussions are being held with prominent reputable figures who have expressed interest in becoming involved in the project.,” the spokesperson confirmed. “And we are in any case going to get the various legal questions about the charity decided in further action in the High Court, as the council itself was advised to.”
Save Ally Pally members and their legal representative Kate Harrison out side the High Court
Last Friday’s court judgment quashed the decision to grant a 125 years lease of Alexandra Palace to Firoka on grounds, that the consultation preceding it, has not been fair or effective, and was fundamentally flawed.
Mr Justice Jeremy Sullivan opened the hearing saying “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.”
He pointed out that “one can not consult the public on X and when the public ask what X is, you tell them: sorry, I can’t tell you what X is or give any information on it.” He went on to say “The order may be the best thing since sliced bread, or maybe the worst, there was no way of knowing.” He called the consultation process “nonsense”, and said “I can not understand why alarm bells were not ringing deafeningly loud as to fairness.”
In his final judgment Mr Justice Jeremy Sullivan said “The trustees are the authors of their own misfortune.”
The APP Trust has been managed by Haringey’s board of trustees since 1980. Evidence presented to the court showed the trustees had a clear intent to dispose of the palace as early as 1989. Haringey board of trustees, are all too keen to point out how they have failed to make the Palace financially viable ever since it was handed to them and used this argument to pave the way for a permission to enter into a long-term lease with a single developer.
Following a debate in parliament, amendments to the Alexandra Park and Palace Act to facilitate a 125 year lease of the Palace were agreed based largely on the fact that the trust was not financially viable and therefore a financial burden on Haringey council.
Haringey, by it’s own admission, managed the trust unsuccessfully for the last 27 years. We believe an independent trusteeship would be the best way forward for the Alexandra Palace Trust and it’s beneficiaries, the public. We are confident the Palace could be viable under an independent board of trustees without a need for a sell-off.
We would like to see an end to the cavalier and secretive way the Trust has been managed so far and have it’s financial affairs investigated. Further legal action in the Chancery Court relating to the way the charity has been run, may be necessary.
Our vision for the future of Ally Pally is for the trust to be handed over to an independent board of trustees in a proper and professional manner by March 2008.
Trustees on the new board could be individuals drawn from a wide range of interested organisations, who have the necessary interest and competence to make the Palace and Park a centre of vibrant multi cultural, arts and entertainment complex for the benefit of all the people of London and beyond, while special care and commitment will be given to the conservation of the heritage and historic value of the Palace. “We would like to use this opportunity to invite organisations or individuals with such interest to contact us by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas and suggestions.” The Charity will be financially independent of Haringey and strictly non political.
The result of the judicial review was rewarding and encouraging, but the Judicial Review was only the first step in our group stated aim. We are delighted with the renewed interest it generated in the future of such an important historic land mark. We welcome anyone interested in the future of Ally Pally to visit our website saveallypally.com and join our group.
The Save Ally Pally group who mounted the challenge of last Friday where helped by many others who contributed their time, skills, support and action to this end.
The Fate of Ally Pally may be decided in the Royal Courts of Justice tomorrow | 4.10.07
The Fate of Alexandra Park and Palace, may finally be decided this Friday, in the Royal Courts of Justice. The hearing starting at 10:00am Fri 5th of Oct 2007, will challenge the legality of the Charity Commission’s consultation process and final decision to permit a 125 year lease of the Alexandra Park and Palace, being granted to Firoka limited.
The grounds for the challenge
J O’Callaghan from http://www.SaveAllyPally.com campaign, represented by K Harrison of Harrison Grant Solicitors and D Wolf of Matrix Chambers, claims the consultation did not satisfy the basic requirements of fairness and that those consulted, were not provided with accurate and sufficient information, which might have enabled them to make a meaningful response.
It had been decided in principle, that a lease could be granted, providing the terms were appropriate. The only remaining question was the specific lease. Was it satisfactory? Was the Palace let or licensed at the best rent that could reasonably have been obtained? What parts of the park and palace shall be leased and what parts maintained as an open space available for the free use and recreation of the public? How would the maintenance of the park be financed, once the trust lost the commercial asset of the palace, that has financed the park maintenance so far? What assurances if any are given to preserve the heritage and historic elements of the Palace, such as the first TV studios and broadcasting mast?
In other words, the consultation in this case was on the particular terms of the proposed lease and agreements, yet the substance and details of the lease and agreements were never fully disclosed before the consultation ended and therefore prevented consultees from making an informed and meaningful response.
O’Callaghan submits that the charity commission decision is unlawful because the consultation, which preceded the decision is critically flawed, because those consulted were not provided with copies of the proposed lease and linked agreements and therefore were unable to make comments on those UNKNOWNS.
The hearing on 5th Oct and court proceedings
The proceedings are known as an application to the administrative court for a “judicial review” of the Charity commission decision/Order.
The case will be heard by Justice Sir Jeremy Sullivan
the case is between:
Claimant: Jacob O’Callaghan and
Defendant: The Charity Commission and
Interested parties: The Trustees of Alexandra Park and Palace, Firoka (Alexandra Palace) limited, Firoka (Kings Cross) Limited and The Attorney General.
The hearing starts 10.00am 5th October 2007, At The Royal Courts of Justice (Court number to be announced) Strand, London, England, WC2A 2LL
Case time line
The claim was lodged with the Court on 26th July 2007.
The Charity Commission and the trustees filed grounds for resisting the claim on 16th August 2007.
The trustees also applied for “expedition” Asking for the case be heard before the date on which they must complete the lease.
On 10th September the judge considered the papers and ordered a tight timetable for filing the Court documents and that the case should be heard in the week beginning 1st October 2007.
The Claimant has now filed his evidence and legal argument.
The legal argument from the Charity Commission and any interested party who wants to be heard had to be filed at the Court by the 28th September.
What will happen on the day?
A judge will consider the application for judicial review, Jacob’s evidence, the Charity Commission’s defence and evidence and any contribution from the interested parties. He or she will hear oral submissions from the barristers: David Wolfe the barrister for Jacob O’Callaghan, will open the case and will be followed by barristers for the Charity Commission and interested parties.
The evidence is submitted in written form and includes witness statements and various documents. No witnesses will be called to give evidence or be crossed examined as part of the proceedings.
The judgment could be given orally at the end of the hearing or the Court could take time to make a decision, give a written judgment later on, or fix another day for an oral judgment to be heard.
This hearing has been fixed as soon as possible because the trustees and Firoka are anxious to complete the lease.
If the challenge is successful, the Court could quash the decision of the 4th May 2007, and may require the Charity Commission to re-consult this time providing full information about the lease and attached agreements. So it can be properly considered by the public who are, after all, the beneficiaries of the Charity.
In 2004 the responsible Home Office minister and the Charity Commission promised that, before the Charity Commission would allow the trustees to grant a long lease of the Palace, there would be public consultation.
In November 2006 the Charity Commission launched a 5 weeks consultation on the proposed lease to Firoka Ltd. Despite few FOI requests both Haringey and the Charity Commission refuses to this day to provide the full details of the lease, project agreement, development agreement, plans showing the area to be leased, the purposes of the lease - even the Building Survey is marked confidential - or any important financial information. By doing so, members of the public were not properly consulted on the Order, which gave permission for the lease to be granted.
SaveAllyPally.comcampaigns to preserve the historic assets of Alexandra Park and Palace, (like safeguard the original site of the world's first high-definition television broadcasting station and the outline of the original studios) while retaining it’s charitable purposes of free public access and use of both the Park and Palace, by making sure that any sale of or long leasehold is carefully scrutinized and fulfils the best interest of both the Palace heritage and the public right to free access.
are they trying to hide? | 20.6.07
The proposed lease between Haringey and Firoka,
which appears on http://saveallypally.com/sellingthepalace.html
is only a part, and a censored one, of the
full set of transaction agreement documents, never made public,
despite a specific promise made to Parliament in 2004 by a government
minister, that potential objectors would be fully consulted about
any proposal. Even the majority
of Haringey council, which is trustee of Ally Pally, have never
Recent High Court decisions clearly have
established that public bodies, which undertake consultations, must
provide all necessary information to reasonably enable meaningful
responses to be made by objectors.
A Freedom of Information request (FoI) was
made by a member of SaveAllyPally. Clive Carter made the request
during the Charity Commission consultation over the sale. “Haringey
wrote that they would need time to work out what to let me have,
citing commercial confidentiality. I believe the intention - and
certainly the effect - of the prevarication was (a) to not provide
full information at all and (b) not to provide even the censored
information in a timely manner. A similar request was made to the
CC and it was they who ultimately provided the censored version”
This redacted version of ‘the lease’ is publicly available
The full documents and plans are still shrouded in secrecy, despite
the Minister’s assurances about consultation and the importance
of this decision to the people of London.
Were Haringey and the CC
right to refuse the release of the full agreement?
the public have the right to know the exact term and contract of
the sale of a public asset, their asset? This
is a vital question the Information Commissioner Office (ICO) had
to grapple with and rule over, in a recent Decision Notice. In
February 2007 The Information Commissioner published its Decision
Notice on a very similar case. Surprisingly or maybe not, the case
involved the same company - Firoka and its dealing with another
local authority- Oxford, who were flogging yet another public asset
to Firoka - the private investor.
In the Oxford case questions were asked
of the local authority involved. The local press made a FoI request
asking for the full agreement, but it resulted in a similar reason
for refusal; the local authority citing their obligation under law
to commercial confidentiality. The
local paper, unsatisfied with this result, complained to the Information
Commissioner, who ruled in their favour.
It ordered the council to supply the agreement and the valuations
pertaining to the sale within 35 calendar days. Failure to comply,
it warned, may be dealt with as a contempt of court. The case revolved
around Oxford City Council sale of land to Firoka, upon which the
football stadium and the Ozone are now built. Read it here
"We are determined to bring the full details of this deal
into public awareness and scrutiny. Only when the full facts are
exposed, can anyone be certain that the deal is indeed fulfilling
the criteria of the 'public good' as Haringey claim it to be. The
evidence so far is pointing in the opposite direction"
of the Charity Commission
The 328 people and organizations who objected to the selling of
the building to a developer have been sent a letter from the commission,
informing them that apart from a concession to the trustees of the
CUFOS premises (a community organization in the old ticket hall
of the original railway station next to the Palace), none of the
objections have been in any way listened to or the Order for the
lease changed. No reasons or explanations have yet been given.
This statement from the commission is misleading. What it doesn’t
mention is that originally the Agreements stated that Firoka had
to wait until the three-month deadline for JR was up. After pressure
from Firoka, the AP management got the trustees to agree to a change
to allow Firoka to complete the deal if it wants after a month after
May 4th, when the Order was signed.
Objectors complained to the Commission about this. They are now
planning to apply to the High Court for a JR.
Letter from Charity Commission to objectors
Alexandra Park and Palace (reg. no. 281991)
I am writing to you in connection with Alexandra
Park and Palace. Thank you for the representations you provided
to us during the public consultation into the proposal to lease
Alexandra Palace to Firoka (Alexandra Palace) Limited for development.
During the consultation process we received 328 representations.
The public consultation process ended on 5th January 2007 and since
that time we have been analysing and considering those representations.
Due to the high profile of the charity and the number of representations
received it was determined that the decision as to whether the Order
could be made consenting to the lease of the Palace would be made
by two members of the board of the Charity Commission, known as
Commissioners. We presently have 5 members of the board of
the Charity Commission, including its Chair.
The Commissioners met on 27th April and made the decision
that the Charity Commission is satisfied that the proposed lease
is permitted by the terms of the 2004 Order. They also decided that
the Charity Commission is satisfied that the trustee has exercised
its discretion properly in deciding to enter into the lease and
that the lease is expedient in the interests of the charity. The
Charity Commission has sealed the Order giving its consent to the
125 year lease to be entered into with Firoka (Alexandra Palace)
In response to the public consultation, the Charity
Commission has secured the agreement of the trustee to grant the
charity called CUFOS (Community Use for the Old Station) protection
of its existing lease of the old station building under the Landlord
and Tenant Act 1954. The Charity Commission’s Order also makes
directions to the trustee to ensure it complies with its obligation
to consult the Alexandra Park and Palace Advisory Committee.
The full decision of the Charity Commission
will be published shortly, this will be accessible from the Commission’s
(or click here to download
a pdf from our website)
If you wish to appeal this decision, you will
need to apply to the High Court for a Judicial Review within 3 months
of the date of the decision. (You may find the following website
If you wish to complain about the standard of service
you have received, please write to Charity Commission Direct, PO
Box 1227, Liverpool, L69 3UG, addressing your letter to our Customer
Services Team. Further information can be found on our website under
the Charity Commission’.