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 It includes letters sent to local papers, published & unpublished.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


IS the Council saying that our Charity is to blame for the £3m Firoka sham Licence?

THE LEADER of Haringey Council, Ms Clare Kober, and the Director of Corporate Resources, Julie Parker are called on to stop the mounting pressure that is being placed on the Trustees of the Alexandra Park and Palace Trust (our Charity) to sign the wholly unsatisfactory draft accounts.

At the Special Board meeting on Tuesday 6th January 2009 the Trustees were placed under considerable influence from Trust Solicitor Iain Harris and Council Officers to agree the accounts with only trivial changes, and sign within 48 hours. It would seem the trustees are not being advised as trustees, but as councillors.

The Trustees have a statutory duty of care to safeguard our Charity and its assets. Signing the accounts as they currently stand is likely to lead to a Breach of Trust by the current board. Trustees, according the Trust Law, are personally responsible if not liable, for their actions.

The Trustees, who are also Councillors, were instructed by Trust Solicitor Iain Harris in a September 2008 letter attached to the Walklate Report that they should leave politics behind when acting as trustees, and putting their fiduciary trustee duties first and foremost when representing our Charity. They are now being pressured into making decisions that are not in the best interests of our Charity.

The Council, as the main Trustee, has the responsibility to prove that any expenditure was reasonably and properly incurred on behalf of our Charity.

The accounts relate to the eight months of the Firoka unlawful occupation which lead to a £3 million loss to our Charity. This occupation was authorised by a temporary Licence that was investigated by the Walklate report that found that the Board of Trustees had not approved the final version of the licence. Furthermore the Licence was issued for three months but was actually allowed to run for eight months which exacerbated the financial losses. Our Charity has not seen any of the income generated during the Firoka occupation whilst the Council has paid all salaries and expenses.

The ice rink (which normally produces a substantial and direct income to our Charity) was wrongly transferred to Firoka as a result of the unapproved Licence. It made up a substantial part of the £3 million loss whereas in the previous year, it had contributed £1 million to our Charity's fund. The ice rink is a charitable activity – a legal term meaning that only The Board of Trustees has the authority to transfer it. It was only after Firoka's occupation and losses having been incurred that the decision was made to transfer it to APTL – a limited company and trading arm of our Charity. The accounts as they stand incorrectly state the ice rink status at the time of the occupation.

A second report, Walklate 2, it is understood, has been commissioned by the Trustees to investigate the financial impact of the unapproved licence and how to recoup the losses. This report is due, we are told, in February. It is premature and imprudent for the auditors and Trustees to finalise the accounts before this second report is out.

The pressure that is now being placed on Trustees to sign the accounts looks suspiciously like the old regime and the Council wishing to exonerate itself for the financial mismanagement of Alexandra Palace under the occupation by its ex-preferred partner Firoka, when it was the Council who insisted on the sale to Firoka by whatever means. Further, the Council seems to wish to perpetuate the myth that Alexandra Palace is debt-ridden and therefore unattractive to potential investors and partners in our Charity.

This is yet another example of the conflict of interest here, whereby the Trustees are also Councillors. It is clearly time for the trusteeship of Alexandra Palace to be made independent of politics and be run competently for true public benefit.

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