Alexandra Palace trustees have yet to learn from High Court lesson

The chair of Alexandra Palace Charitable Trust spelled out very clearly the problems which the public have with believing any of his statements (Casino scheme for Ally Palace? Don t bet on it, H&H Broadway letters January 31). Cllr Matt Cooke states that

The chair of Alexandra Palace Charitable Trust spelled out very clearly the problems which the public have with believing any of his statements (Casino scheme for Ally Palace? Don't bet on it, H&H Broadway letters January 31). Cllr Matt Cooke states that he wants to put the record straight, so why doesn't he?

The public has now seen the lease that was proposed to be granted to Firoka, which the council went to great lengths to keep secret. It clearly stated under the user clause that permission for a casino was to be given; this is not "talk of a casino" but explicit permission being granted for 125 years for a casino at Alexandra Palace.

I personally am glad that this is now not going to be happening and I am sure that if any proposed lease is being negotiated then a casino or gaming use will be specifically excluded.

Cllr Cooke's comment about the 30,000 sq ft of offices previously proposed for the Palace is disingenuous. At the judicial review where the sale was blocked, the judge said that a 'billboard' on display for seven days at the Palace did not constitute consultation.

There was no indication of the scale of the proposed offices, which would amount to one of the largest office developments in North London. The reason why there was only one negative respondent was that nobody was aware of the scale of offices proposed in a building that is meant to be for charitable use.

It is evident that the trustees have still not taken on board the judge's comment that the consultation process was hopelessly flawed and that the trustees were victims of their own incompetence.

Most Read

The advisors and the trustees are aware that to sell the Palace for commercial use is unlawful and one wonders why they are still pursuing this flawed strategy. Perhaps it is something to do with more than half a million pounds of fees paid to their legal and PR consultants last year.

Mr Cooke states that he wants to work with interest groups and the public, so why does he not publicise exactly what is going on at the Palace and provide an explanation for the more than £2,000,000 loss incurred last year as a result of allowing Firoka to take occupation without any financial return to the trust?

In a commercial organisation the executives and advisors who were responsible for this catastrophe would be dismissed.

In a charity where the trustees are meant to be safeguarding the assets, where there has been such a failure they would also be personally financially responsible and be replaced by competent trustees. As it is, once again, the council taxpayers of Haringey are to foot the bill.


Fitzroy Close, N6

Cllr Matt Cooke is unable to separate fact from fiction in his letter to you. He has provided a one-sided view and is not presenting the truth of the horrors that await us should Firoka get the lease.

Cllr Cooke is a fantasist if he wishes the public to believe that flogging Alexandra Palace on a 125-year commercial lease is in the public or the charity's best interests.

He states that APCT as the landlord will 'oversee the development ensuring all the covenants are met'. This is another fantasy. This is the board that has allowed Firoka to move in and take over trading without a lease being signed and allowed Firoka to keep all profits from May 2007 until January 2008.

Unprotected under this commercial lease are the first TV broadcasting studios in the world, a Victorian theatre and the finest 100ft concert Willis organ in Europe.

The council is deliberately making the financial position of Alexandra Palace worse and further neglecting the gems it has in its charge on our behalf.

Imagine what could have been, if the council had used some of this expenditure to develop these hidden treasures!

The highlight of Cllr Cooke's letter, out of so many points that beg to be addressed, concerns the TV studios. These have been closed for years, out of the public gaze according to Cllr Cooke and the council due to asbestos 'contamination'. It is the public's right to see these reports since this is the only reason why the council will not allow anyone in.

It is sheer fantasy to expect Firoka's interests to lie with the setting up of a national television media centre and nothing in the Firoka plans guarantees that the studios will be in their original location and scale. Further, the developer is to charge a market rent and grant between 15 to 20 years term maximum.

Should a world tourist attraction and heritage site not deserve terms greater than a 20-year commercial lease? When Firoka comes to assign the lease for Alexandra Palace or parts of it, does that mean the new owner may not renew?

The lease, apart from being commercial, is weighted to Firoka. It states that the accommodation of the TV Studios Museum is not to exceed 558 metres squared. How did APCT arrive at this figure? Why not state it as a minimum?

The objects and purposes of The Ally Pally charity were set out in the 1900 Act: ''The park, palace and other lands shall be available for the free use and recreation of the public for ever.'' This would not be so if the Alexandra Palace were sold to Firoka under a commercial lease.

It is vital that APCT actively preserve the historic areas of Alexandra Palace and open up the building for greater use as befitting its charitable status for us, the beneficiaries.

It is timely now to change APCT from a board of councillors to a board consisting of an experienced and capable CEO and a team of trustees who can develop each area of Alexandra Palace operations to expand its existing profit, enhance its pride and provide jobs in Haringey for our lifetime and future generations.

Let's not give it away. Charity begins at home.

L Zilkha

Cranbourne Road, N1