Caption for top photo

"Hello Radiolympia. This is direct television from the studios at Alexandra Palace!" *

THESE were the immortal words spoken to camera by Elizabeth Cowell and received at the big Radio show at Olympia, in West London. This was amongst similar test transmissions during August 1936, prior to the beginning of regular broadcasting just a couple of months later, on 2 November 1936.

Alexandra Palace was the birthplace of scheduled public, "high" definition television broadcasting in the UK and arguably, the world.

The American Modern Mechanix magazine of May 1935, described this as, England Will Broadcast First Chain Television Programs, to "Lookers".

BBC Studios A & B are the world's oldest surviving television studios.

YET in 2007, our People’s Palace was to be sold down the river by its very guardians – the Trustee – the London Borough of Haringey. The TV studios were to be destroyed with the connivance of the local council. Here is raw uncensored opinion and information about the scandal of the attempted fire-sale of our Charitable Trust’s asset, for property development. It includes letters sent to local papers, published & unpublished.

AFTER receiving a slap-down from the High Court (2007, October 5), two and a half years went by before the council finally abandoned its 15-year-old policy of "holistic" sale (i.e. lock stock and barrel). Then there was an attempt at partial sale ("up to two-thirds") to a music operator but without governance reform. To tart the place up for a developer, the council blithely sought about a million pounds towards this goal, a further sum of cash to be burnt.

THE local council has proved itself, to everyone's satisfaction, to have been a poor steward and guardian for over 20 years. Now, the master plan (below) developed under the new CEO Duncan Wilson OBE deserves to succeed.

It would be also be a big step forward to have a Trust Board at least partly independent of Haringey Council. 'Outside' experts would be an advantage. They'd likely be more interested, committed, of integrity and offer greater continuity. Bringing independent members onto the board and freeing it from political control would be the best assurance of success, sooner.


• Council condoned casino?

Uncertainty over the Casino option for the Alexandra Palace Charitable Trust

THE Chairman of the AP Charitable Trust, Councillor Matt Cooke, has described the Casino shown in the plans of the Council’s favoured development partner, as merely an ‘option’. It might be helpful for the public if the status or likelihood of the Casino option could be clarified. Firoka’s casino option is I believe, the only casino currently proposed for Haringey.

A few factors give rise to concern. The Council has stated that they have not decided whether or not to have a ‘No-Casinos’ policy. This is shown on page 17 of the Council’s Statement of Gambling Policy.
There are currently no casinos operating within the borough. There is no resolution to prohibit casinos in the borough at present. The licensing authority is aware it has the power to do so under section 166 of the Gambling Act 2005. However the Council reserves the right to review this situation and may, at some time in the future, resolve not to permit casinos. Should the Council choose to make such a resolution, this will be a resolution of full Council.
Thus, the door is left open for the Council’s favoured business partner, Firoka, to have a Casino they want (Firoka were disappointed last year to be thwarted in getting casino permission in Oxford).

Firoka’s outline proposals show only a small casino in the basement, but if they eventually get approval for their casino, that operation would likely generate the most cash and the most profits within the Charitable Trust. The desire to expand from a small casino would be great, in the same way that there is great pressure for more gambling establishments in Green Lanes.

The Chairman of our Charitable Trust has previously discussed the casino option only in managerial terms: whether it is possible under current legislation (it is), rather than in terms of whether it is desirable. Not all of Cllr. Cooke’s colleagues are as indifferent as he appears to be, about gambling and its social effects.

Last year, the Charity’s long-time legal advisor, Trust Solicitor Mr Iain Harris, wrote to the Charity Commission
You have expressed concern that use as a small casino is not charitable. This is a very small part of the development proposal, certainly not something that is likely to happen for some time. Be that as it may, I would advance the proposition that casino use does fall within the objects of the Charity as a recreational activity
(letter to Mrs. V. Crandon,
Charity Commission, 7 July 2006, p.3)

Is Mr. Harris is writing on behalf of a Charitable Trust, on behalf of a property developer or both?

Some find it remarkable that the Council is currently sponsoring the first gambling license for Alexandra Palace. It is an application for a premises licence for permanent track betting. The application is in the name of Alexandra Palace Trading Ltd. (APTL). This is the council-owned and council-controlled trading company that runs day-to-day operations in our Charitable Trust. It appears this license is being sought on behalf of Firoka, whose first application – almost identical to the APTL one - was rejected because Firoka (wrongly) claimed the right to occupy the Palace.

It seems likely that when it comes to the licensing hearing, the committee Councillors will award the license to the company controlled by fellow Councillors. The public may see this as Council condoning and endorsing of gambling and be concerned that this will pave the way for wider gambling use in future in the seven acre Alexandra Palace building.

The Council is keen to keep their favoured business partner in discussions over the sale of Alexandra Palace, even though a High Court judge quashed the sale in October. Firoka at that stage may have contemplated suing the Trustees on the grounds that the Council mislead Firoka over the need for a public consultation. Firoka probably bit on their tongue because the deal they still want is monstrously lucrative for them, even more with a casino option.

Now the Council have (finally) evicted Firoka from the building, nine weeks after the High Court ruling, Firoka may feel let down by their ‘development partner’ and feel somewhat bruised. What could be offered to Firoka to keep them quiet and sweet?

Knowing how badly Firoka want a Casino in the Charitable Trust asset, is it possible that there is a private understanding that they will eventually get it, with quiet Council approval? This could be the one ultra-lucrative sweetener that keeps Firoka in the deal and prevents them from suing the Trustees for breach of contract and for misleading Firoka over the need to have a public Consultation.

The sale agreements for Alexandra Palace, which remain concealed from the public on the basis of ‘commercial confidentiality’, may contain clauses providing for Haringey’s first casino.

Notwithstanding the general commercial confidentiality agreement, is it possible for the Council to confirm - at least on this particular question - whether or not the sale documents refer to or allow for a casino in the Charitable Trust asset (Alexandra Palace)?

There has been too much secrecy and equivocation about this. An unambiguous statement is needed from the Council about the casino option so the public knows where it stands.