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"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 It includes letters sent to local papers, published & unpublished.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.


Haringey Council’s free magazine: I apologise and take back all my criticism (!?)

Haringey People magazine and its coverage of the High Court of Justice decision that led to costs awarded against the Council.

I take back my criticism of Haringey People as a journal of Council propaganda. Some people thought that Haringey tries to suppress news that does not reflect well on them. So you can imagine my surprise at the extent of coverage of one particular story in the latest Haringey People issue (p.16, December 2007), which confounds Council critics.

Everyone can now read the full story about the Council defeat in the High Court of Justice over Alexandra Palace on 5 October 2007. Devoting a double-page spread (‘Highlights of 2007’) to the Council’s reversal was more than fair: it is a credit to the dedicated investigative journalists on the People staff.

The article also went into detail about the punishment meted out: both how and why the Council came to have costs awarded against them, by a judge who was highly critical of their conduct. It all proves that the editors of Haringey People are making a strong effort to be open, objective and impartial.

“AUTHORS OF THEIR OWN MISFORTUNE” was the banner headline, quoting the judge’s words about the Trustees (i.e. the Council). This is proof positive that Haringey People gives space to viewpoints that differ from those of the majority group.

Haringey People – paid for out of general taxation – can now show it is not simply a mouthpiece for the majority group and the centre-fold spread is the proof. This big article gives the lie to any suggestion that the publication is just a means for the ruling party to communicate with its supporters and is little more than a misuse of public funds.

(Was this change of heart possibly helped by public relations firm Lexington Communications, in a move to make a clean breast of what had gone on before?) Although there was copious coverage in Haringey People, if anyone is interested in reading just a little more information, please visit this web-site for the Court Decision.

In the same spirit of openness, I wonder if the next issue of Haringey People will carry out a thorough investigation into the accounts at Alexandra Palace and of the ‘sale’ itself?

Can I suggest an in-depth, follow-up interview with Firoka boss Shaun Ormrod at the Palace? Shaun leads the Firoka team who were let into the Palace by the Trustees (and without payment), just four weeks after the Charity Commission sealed the Order allowing the sale. The same Order later quashed in the High Court. The public might be interested to know why Mr. Ormrod may now be given notice to vacate and why?

I’m sure Shaun would be delighted to have an opportunity to speak frankly and on the record. Has the Charitable Trust received any money for the sale of the building or any money from the events at Alexandra Palace that have taken place in the last six months? That might total millions of pounds that might be better in Council coffers.


ON A RELATED point, I was delighted to see that the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Alexandra Palace has promised that the public will never again be excluded from Board meetings. He has even apologized for the exclusion of the press and public from previous Charitable Trust Board meetings, “after all, they are the beneficiaries of the Trust, our decisions affect them and they need to feel a part of the Board’s decisions. We now believe in inclusiveness and community involvement. There has been too much secrecy in the past”.

The newly appointed young chairman is showing a welcome independent line, demonstrating that he is keen to make a clean break with the past and set a new open agenda. This change of heart is overdue – the public have always been beneficiaries of the Charitable Trust.

Next the public might even be given copies of the secret documents about the sale of Alexandra Palace to a favoured business partner for a reported £1.5 million.

Haringey People is worth every penny of its cover price.