Mayor Boris 'attracted' to running Ally Pally
BORIS JOHNSON has waded into the debate on the future of Alexandra Palace after saying that he was attracted by the idea of the Greater London Authority (GLA) running the historic building. Talking to several hundred members of the Tory Party, Mr Johnso
BORIS JOHNSON has waded into the debate on the future of Alexandra Palace after saying that he was "attracted" by the idea of the Greater London Authority (GLA) running the historic building.
Talking to several hundred members of the Tory Party, Mr Johnson told them at a meeting in Hammersmith that the Palace was in disrepair and that he was attracted by the idea of the GLA stepping in to restore it.
The 135-year-old Palace and park are owned by the Alexandra Palace Charitable Trust, which is currently administered by Haringey Council.
Tory activist Justin Hinchcliffe, who lives in Tottenham and attended the meeting, said: "Mayor Boris slammed Haringey's woeful neglect of Ally Pally."
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However, Mr Johnson's aides have been quick to quash the idea.
A spokeswoman for the mayor said: "Boris attended The Damilola Taylor Trust Spirit of London awards last Friday night, held at Ally Pally.
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"Attending a Conservative Conference the next day (Saturday) the Mayor mentioned that having attended the awards, he thought it was a shame that Alexandra Palace wasn't in better repair, and whilst he did say that he was attracted to the idea of stepping in, he made it clear that sadly this wasn't something that the GLA could afford to do."
The Palace was running at a deficit of �1.5million a year, which is why, three years ago, the Trust decided to lease it out to millionaire property tycoon Firoz Kassam.
He planned to create a hotel and leisure complex there. But in October 2008, the High Court ruled the agreement could not go ahead after Highgate resident Jacob O'Callaghan lead a successful campaign against the sale.
The timing of Mr Johnson's comments are pertinent because trustees of the Palace are in the process of reviewing options on who should run and pay for it.
Rebecca Kane, Managing Director of Alexandra Palace Trading Company Limited, said: "The trustees are in the middle of a process of reviewing governance and looking into who would be best placed to manage Alexandra Park and Palace.
"We need an A-class team to help put together a really good master plan for the future vision of the Palace. It would be phenomenal if Boris Johnson and the GLA would help us with that."
Mr O'Callaghan, of Bishopswood Road, said: "Haringey's refusal to maintain and repair this historic building's fabric during its 30-year trusteeship is a scandal.
"While welcoming Boris's interest and his appreciation of the importance of the People's Palace to all London, more and more people are asking that it be run by an independent body of expert, committed trustees, aware of its history and free of all party politics."
Clive Carter, who has been vociferous in the discussions about how the Palace should be run, said: "In my opinion it was a publicity seeking move. I don't think Boris knows enough about the Palace to make such a comment.
"It would be retrograde step if the Palace returned to Greater London Authority because it left the then Greater London Council in the 1980s. It needs to be run by an independent trust which is free from political wrangling.