Council has only itself to blame for creating a wall of cynicism

THERE is great frustration in Haringey Council quarters that no matter how hard its councillors, officers and communications teams try, the default position is that no-one really believes them when it comes to dealing with controversial matters. When trus

THERE is great frustration in Haringey Council quarters that no matter how hard its councillors, officers and communications teams try, the default position is that no-one really believes them when it comes to dealing with controversial matters.

When trust breaks down in this way between a local authority and its residents, it is inevitably because the authority has been less than candid in outlining its original intentions.

This often leads to a web of intrigue being spun by the council to enable matters to progress. In turn the web is unravelled by concerned and intelligent residents, and so it goes on.

Nowhere is this absence of trust more currently apparent than in the ongoing correspondence in our Broadway edition concerning the council's intentions about the future of Alexandra Palace.


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Even a cursory examination of the exchanges between Cllr Matt Cooke, the head of the trustees, and the Save Ally Pally campaigners and other interested individuals, shows that the council still has a long way to go to break through the wall of cynicism that now surrounds the issue. Nothing Cllr Cooke says is taken as read by the campaigners.

For instance, Cllr Cooke has offered what appears to be an extremely definitive and conclusive denial of the suggestion that there could still be a casino at the palace (though not everyone in the borough and beyond would see such a development as a bad thing, it has to be said).

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No matter how many times the campaigners repeat their concerns, there is simply not going to be one, he stresses. It cannot and will not happen. End of story. Finito.

As far as the campaigners are concerned it is not the end of the story, however. It cannot be denied, they say, that a small casino was part of the original plan for the palace, presumably because lots of people, including Firoka, the prospective new owners, think it would be a good idea.

It is of course the same company which is back in talks with the council about taking over a lease which, in its original form, would have run long into the next century.

That's a very long time. Young though he is, Cllr Cooke is not in a position to make permanent promises, whether or not his political career remains inextricably linked with the future of the palace. Even if the council cannot issue casino licences, someone else can. In any case, gambling regulations could change in the future as they have in the past.

The council is still reeling of course from a public humiliation - at an impartial high court hearing - for the way in which it handled the sale of the lease and particularly for the unsatisfactory way in which it went about the process of consultation. Part of the problem is that it has yet to face up to the fact that the crisis of confidence it now struggles with, is very much of its own making. When it does, things might begin to improve.

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