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 It includes letters sent to local papers, published & unpublished.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


• The long term risk to Alexandra Park, by selling the Palace

THE Council is sensitive to suggestions that the deal to sell the Alexandra Palace building would place Alexandra Park in jeopardy. But the long term future of the park – as it exists today – is in doubt as a direct result of the current deal to flog the building and the agreed change in park funding.
  1. In an effort to sweeten the deal to the greatest possible extent for the buyer – Firoka (Alexandra Park) Ltd.) – Haringey Council agreed to take over the running costs of park security, park upkeep and the costs of maintaining the road.

  2. This currently amounts to £740,000 per annum and is a cost that will rise in the years ahead. It is also a cost that the Council should have been bearing all along and not a burden on the Trust’s accounts. In the past, the Council has treated their wholly-owned company Alexandra Palace Trading Ltd. (APTL) as a cash cow. But now they intend to sell the cash cow for just £1.5 million. Yes, that’s for the whole Palace building with 125 year lease. Equivalent to £12 k per annum.

  3. The three quarter million pound AP park cost is an entirely new and additional charge on the Parks Service budget. How will this extra regular recurring expenditure be funded? The cost was previously met entirely out of the modestly profitable operations of the APTL. Where will all this money come from now?

  4. At 196 acres, Alexandra Park is the largest park in Haringey, much bigger than most, with many fine features that are the envy of the rest of the Borough. Some eastern councilors may wonder why Muswell Hill should enjoy such a good recreational facility and begin to question whether it should be now be funded from general taxation (as it should have been all along).

  5. Some members of Haringey Council’s Majority Group despise Muswell Hill. I live in a different part of our Borough but the loathing towards Muswell Hill residents is not hard to detect; many of these residents have heard it with their own ears. If senior Majority Group councilors are prepared to say rude and insulting things about Muswell Hill in public, the public can only wonder what they say in private. It is not hard to conclude that the Council is likely to regard this park as too big and too good for Muswell Hill and too expensive for the Council to fund in the long run.

  6. If the shady deal goes ahead, in a few year’s time our Council is likely to make the same misleading claims about the park as they’ve made about the building: claiming that it’s a loss to the Council, a disproportionate drain on council finances and a burden on the ratepayers. Both claims are false. Perhaps the Parks Service mobile Hygiene Team need to visit the Council’s accounts department. For an independent accountant’s analysis of the Trust’s accounts.

  7. Those Muswell Hill residents who are indifferent to today’s sale of the building (including the destruction of the world’s first television studios) may in a few years time, wake up one morning to learn of council proposals to start pruning either costs or land or both, from the park itself. Maintenance will be the first thing to suffer as those changes are not noticed quickly. These pressures might originate due to Council budgetary constraint or pressure from their lease-holder, Firoka.

  8. Even if the Council is delighted to continue to fund this big new expense indefinitely, Firoka will probably put pressure on the AP Trust or Council for more control over the Park (golf? roads? parking?). Firoka currently have the Council over a barrel over the entire sale process: the Council prematurely let Firoka bosses occupy the building without receiving any payment. All income from events goes to Firoka. Firoka bosses wasted no time extending their grasp throughout the park. The Farmers Market is already is already under pressure to move elsewhere so as to tidy up the entrance. Firoka’s reputation and record with ex-Council land is easy enough for anyone to research: just put the relevant key words into Google with ‘Oxford’, ‘City Council’ and ‘Football Club’. Recently, the leader of Oxford City Council, said:
The saga of Oxford City Council and the Kassam Stadium deal rumbles on, more than seven years after the event (Oxford Mail, October 19).

I am glad that the information is, at last, in the public domain. I believe it is right that the documents should be available for people wishing to investigate this episode in the council's history. As leader of the council, I don't have the power to turn the clock back or to revisit this sort of decision ...

But what I can do and am determined to do is to be assured that, if a poor deal was struck in the past, the same sort of thing could not happen again.

I have asked our officers to make certain that checks are now in place to ensure that the council gets value for money and is seen to get value from any property deal.

The officers now are well aware of the need to show to all the world - both the regulatory authorities and the public - that a deal is in the best interests of the council and the city.

This council has moved on a long way since the Kassam deal was done.
John Goddard, Leader Oxford City Council
The Oxford Mail, 26 October 2007

Will Haringey learn? No one can say they were not warned. It is difficult to see how this secret deal makes financial sense to anyone except Firoka. Whatever the outcome, that company is likely to walk away with millions. Even if the sale falls through, Firoka may yet cry all the way to the bank after a successful lawsuit against our Keystone Cop Council and their lamentable legal team.