Hundreds urge Brown to block Palace sell-off

AN online petition has been set up calling for the prime minister to prevent Haringey Council from selling Alexandra Palace to a property developer

Charlotte Newton

AN online petition has been set up calling for the prime minister to prevent Haringey Council from selling Alexandra Palace to a property developer.

The petition, started last Thursday, already has more than 250 signatures.

They include MP Lynne Featherstone and Jacob O'Callaghan, who successfully took the management trust to the High Court for failing to make public the terms of its 125-year lease agreement with property tycoon Firoz Kassam.

Save Ally Pally member Clive Carter said: "We plan to run the petition for 12 months - the numbers are bound to accumulate.

"If we have a judicial review later this year, we will use the petition to illustrate public concern at Ally Pally being sold to a property developer."

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Save Ally Pally members have also queried claims that it will cost £225,000 to clear the world's first television studios of asbestos.

David Loudfoot, general manager of Alexandra Palace Park Charitable Trust, has told members that the building cannot be opened to the public because builders estimate the clean-up bill will run into thousands of pounds.

The Save Ally Pally group is now calling for asbestos suppliers to carry out an independent evaluation. It argues that builders are not qualified to make such a judgment.

A spokeswoman for Save Ally Pally said: "Alexandra Palace is a building owned by a charity in which the main trustees are Haringey Council. The trustees should keep this building open.

"They have spent so much money on legal fees, yet something as paltry as this, the trust is refusing to do. All it can think about is how to sell the building.

"We would appeal to the trustees and Haringey Council to rethink their policy and open up the BBC studios to the public."

Trust chairman Councillor Matt Cooke said: "Let's be clear - £50million investment is needed to carry out much-needed work throughout the palace, including bringing 40 per cent which is derelict back into full use.

"It would be irresponsible of trustees to allocate money for decontamination when there is still more progress to be made on securing development at Ally Pally. The trustees are charged with safeguarding the future of the whole palace.

"The trustees have acted on the best advice of independent experts with experience of assessing complex and serious cases of asbestos contamination and will ensure that all necessary work is carried out as part of the comprehensive regeneration of the palace.

"We will not bow to pressure to focus on one area of particular interest. We are working for a solution which is in the interests of everyone in the area being able to enjoy the whole of the palace in future.

"The People's Palace has to be more than a mausoleum. It should be for all residents to enjoy."

o To sign the petition, log on to