Government slammed over Ally Pally
Robyn Rosen CAMPAIGNERS have spoken out against a government response to a petition of more than 2,400 signatures aimed at protecting the future of Ally Pally. Clive Carter, of the Save Ally Pally campaign, launched the petition in February 2007 and recei
CAMPAIGNERS have spoken out against a government response to a petition of more than 2,400 signatures aimed at protecting the future of Ally Pally.
Clive Carter, of the Save Ally Pally campaign, launched the petition in February 2007 and received support from thousands of local people including Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green.
The petition, which stayed open for a year, urged the Prime Minister to instruct Haringey Council not to sell the Muswell Hill palace to a property developer.
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It claimed that the council "disregarded much public opposition" in attempting to sell the 125-year lease to developers.
In October 2007, the sale of the palace to developer Firoka was stalled after a High Court decision quashed the lease.
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The petition also renewed calls to protect "the birthplace of television", the huge Willis organ, original Victorian theatre and old railway station all within the palace's ground.
But last Friday, the government published a response which said that, under the Local Government Act 1972, any decision to grant a lease was in the hands of the council.
It read: "The government takes the view that local authorities should be given the primary responsibility for any land disposals they undertake.
"The government does not have a role in policing the land disposals made by local authorities.
"When carrying out land transactions, local authorities should act within the law and with due regard to their general fiduciary duty to their taxpayers.
"But within these constraints local authorities are free to undertake property disposals as they see fit."
A spokesman for Save Ally Pally said: "This view wholly ignores several relevant factors. It is disappointing that the government appears wholly indifferent to the fate of the first television studios in the world, as this aspect does not merit the slightest reference.
"The response from the Prime Minister's Office is hasty, shoddy, ignorant, misleading and disingenuous - a bit like the reasons advanced by Haringey Council to justify the sale."
MP Lynne Featherstone said: "Haringey has played fast and loose with our local asset and treasure - Alexandra Palace - taking no notice of the law or local peoples' wishes.
"When so many people tell the Prime Minister that Haringey can't be trusted he should listen, not just give stock answers.
"In an ideal world such issues should be handled locally, but when the local council has repeatedly failed and worse then local people might expect a bit more from the Prime Minister than a 'not me mate' answer.