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 It includes letters sent to local papers, published & unpublished.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


• Crisis too big for crisis managers

AP crisis not responsibility of PR crisis managers

THE High Court defeat (October) of the Alexandra Palace Trustees saw costs were awarded against them, severe criticism and the quashing of the shady sale of the whole Palace to Firoka for £1.5m.

It could be said that the policies of the Board of Trustees (Haringey Council) are in crisis and in need of the attention of professional crisis managers.

But shouldn’t the flawed policies of the majority group be defended by the elected politicians responsible for them, rather than getting one of London’s most expensive PR companies to put a gloss on what is going on?

More than that, why are our funds, public funds, nay, charity funds being used for this purpose? Wouldn’t it be better that this money was spent on maintenance of our Trust’s main asset, something Haringey has been remiss over in recent times?

For example The chairman now claims the world’s first TV studios are “riddled” with contamination and that that contamination is “serious”. Why wasn’t this job – started 20 years ago – finished? It is said that an extra £225,000 is needed to finish the job, so the public can visit them again.

In the last two years, our Alexandra Palace Trust, a registered Charity and overseen by local Councillors, has paid over £182,000 to one of London’s largest public relations companies. Lexington Communications boast on their website that they specialize in Crisis Management.

Some of this vast sum was spent in an effort to show that the publicity for the tendering exercise was huge and so as never to be repeated. The tender that lead to a “preferred development partner” (i.e. the developer-of-last-resort) that lead to the consultation and then to the High Court.

Alexandra Palace, mismanaged by Haringey Council since 1980, is certainly in need of better public relations but spending all that money on PR doesn’t change the facts on the ground.

The local Council lost control of re-building costs after the fire of 1980 and (unlawfully) lumped their huge cost overruns onto the accounts of the AP Charity. Now other costs appear to have been allowed to spiral away. Who is in control?

PR spin cannot substitute for well-thought-through policies in the first place. They cannot disguise the fact that Haringey has made a mess of the sale of AP in the same way that they’ve made a mess of the management for years.

In truth, we need new, non-political Trustees. Trustees who have the long-term interests of AP at heart and who are not trying simply to sell the idea of a sale. We need spokesman who do not need to speak through PR firms at great public expense in order to persuade us, because they would be committed, responsible people of integrity and would naturally speak the unalloyed truth.