Now Haringey Council has the ideal home for a casino

I see that Haringey Council intends shifting the Civic Centre up the road to Woodside House. Which leaves the big question of what to do with the old Civic Centre in Wood Green High Road? This unlovely, uncared-for building needs re-development. Our C

I see that Haringey Council intends shifting the Civic Centre up the road to

Woodside House. Which leaves the big question of what to do with the old Civic

Centre in Wood Green High Road?

This unlovely, uncared-for building needs re-development. Our Council Leader


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describes the current Civic Centre as "increasingly unfit for current requirements and

inefficient, with an escalating maintenance bill." As for future use, Cllr. Meehan said:

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"And we can deliver further regeneration benefits by releasing the existing civic centre site

for an appropriate development."

Has the Council considered converting the Civic Centre into a casino? Some

councillors argued the case for a casino at Alexandra Palace in 2006, but were

thwarted, at least temporarily.

The Council Chamber (renamed Casino Mayorale), would be a grand setting for

roulette tables. The game with the highest stakes could be sited under the Mayoral

dias, with one-arm bandits located where backbench councillors now sit. The long

committee-room wing could house a large number of fixed odds betting terminals

(FOBTs), known colloquially as the crack-cocaine of gambling.

Necessary modifications would include: removal of any clocks; blacking out of

windows, plentiful cheap food available on site and lots of lavatories. The big car

park at the rear would encourage punters to come from beyond Haringey,

enabling our Council to tax the residents of neighbouring Boroughs! Punters could

be dropped off at the front porch by taxis and chauffeurs, just like the side entrance

of the Ritz casino.

According to the Council report of 2006 Casino proposal at Alexandra Palace, a "Small

Casino" would be permitted to have up to 80 category B gaming machines with a

maximum jackpot of £4,000. But the volume of the Civic Centre would surely be

sufficient to house a Large or Regional facility? The report argued strongly for the

regeneration benefits of a casino at Alexandra Palace, saying that the impact of a

casino at Alexandra Palace "would be of particular benefit to black and minority ethnic

communities and socially excluded neighbourhoods," so what is the Council waiting

for? It surely follows that the larger the gambling premises, the greater the

regeneration benefit?

The profits to the Council would be huge and would take pressure off CPZ's and parking fines as a means of lifting

council income (the social and family cost of such a facility is harder to quantify).

There would be no difficulty in obtaining a licence. The Council would apply to

itself for a gambling premises licence just as it did with Alexandra Palace (the

charitable trust it controls). Any licensing committee Hearing could be arranged to

be chaired by one of the councillor casino-advocates, who might then finally get

the full casino they want. We can find a precedent for that in the permission the

Council gave itself in April for the off-track betting premises licence at Alexandra

Palace.

Fortunately, gambling is not linked to crime. (Or at least, that's what we were told

by a solicitor acting for the licence Applicant at that Hearing, the Council-

controlled company Alexandra Palace Trading Ltd.).

A Civic Centre Casino would be a fitting use for premises that have seen such

gaming in the past and such gambling with the future of the Borough.

Clive Carter

Stapleton Hall Road, N4

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