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 It includes letters sent to local papers, published & unpublished.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


Beware bogus charity operating in this area

HARINGEY residents should beware of a bogus charity operating in this area. Using fraudulent claims, it has fleeced donors for huge sums over a long time, with the scam reaching a new intensity last year. Innocent donors do not suspect the true nature of this so-called “charitable” trust.

Do not hand over cash! Collectors for this charity are licensed by the Council but have been known to knock on doors and tell flat out untruths. Superficially respectable, they are easily identified by their pompous platitudes. Residents should close the door and refuse to believe claims made by it’s representatives.

Why should residents disbelieve it’s statements? Like all charities, this one has charitable aims and objectives, but unlike real charities, long ago these aims were forgotten. There is practically no charitable activity.

One example of the perversion of charitable aims occurred on Fireworks night last year. Donors had already paid for the fireworks for a display in a nearby park. Normally its costs are offset by profits from trading activities, but collectors held out plastic buckets into which the public were invited to make additional donations. Where did this cash go?

Unlike most charities, this one owns a valuable asset, rich in history and paid for (£100m?) over the years by donors. But it has been badly neglected. The trustees have been quietly trying to sell this huge asset, for a nominal sum, for property development. This would forever preclude any chance of fulfilling the original charitable aims.

The Charity’s solicitor has written to the Charity Commission, asserting that “casino use does fall within the objects of the Charity as a recreational activity”. The Salvation Army, this charity is not!

In most respects, this charity is run as a private limited company. Unlike most boards of directors, this one rips off its shareholders. It is self-perpetuating and in practice is run for the benefit of its top-heavy senior management and professional advisor-hangers-on.

It is this Borough’s largest expense account. One of the ways it can be distinguished from most charities is by the fact that the Trustees pay themselves cash out of charity funds. It’s fine by the rules under which they operate, but dubious under Charity rules. It conducts much of its business in secret.

Trustees are transitory and are not appointed for their professional expertise. One was overheard to say “I don’t know what’s going on” – they do not take responsibility for mistakes that have cost its donors dearly.

The ‘donors’ are every resident and taxpayer in Haringey. The charity is part of a municipal empire and its name is Alexandra Park & Palace (registered charity no: 281991). It’s trustees are Haringey Council.