Haringey Council was right to take on Alexandra Palace

Jacob O Callaghan (H&H Broasdway letters, January 21) deserves our warmest thanks for ridding the Alexandra Palace of Haringey Council s deplorable deal with Firoka, but he is surely wrong to disparage the council for acquiring the Palace in the first pla

Jacob O'Callaghan (H&H Broasdway letters, January 21) deserves our warmest thanks for ridding the Alexandra Palace of Haringey Council's deplorable deal with Firoka, but he is surely wrong to disparage the council for acquiring the Palace in the first place.

It had become semi-derelict after the BBC moved out, and its owners - the Greater London Council - had refused to spend any money on the building.

Eventually the only remaining regular public activity there ceased, when the roller skating rink was closed after the roof was declared unsafe, with no prospect of finance for repairing it.

As Leader of Haringey Council and also a member of the GLC, I acted as intermediary to seek the transfer, backed by my colleagues and by a practical plan from our brilliant architect, Peter Smith, who had recently completed the Wood Green Shopping City.

The �1 million 'dowry' paid by the GLC was ample to refurbish Ally Pally and make it once again an attractive public venue.

Although disaster struck just as the scheme was starting, and the building was almost destroyed by fire, the silver lining was that

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Haringey had fully insured it for �8.5 million - enough to rebuild it from a smouldering ruin into something like the original plan.

Whatever the intervening complications, as one who has lived close by the Palace all my life, I am delighted that it is now a listed building, well-used and cared for, with a popular ice skating rink, a beautiful Palm Court area, and an ever-expanding role in staging national and regional events in the restored Great Hall.

To quote Edith Piaf and Lord Lamont "Je ne regret rien"!

Robin Young

Lansdowne Road

Muswell Hill, N10

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