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2,393 signed petition to the PM to prevent any sale of AP

In 2008 the Save Ally Pally online petition attracted 2,393 signatures by its closing date on February 27. Although the High Court blocked a proposed sale to a developer, Firoka Ltd., the overall trustee, the London Borough of Haringey, had still not publicly or finally abandoned its policy of flogging Ally Pally entire. SAP thanks all those who signed.

The petition wording:

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to instruct Haringey Council not to sell Alexandra Palace to a property developer. Save Ally Pally!

For more information click on:

 

Transcript of the judgment Last updated 31.10.07
Transcript of the judgment of the judicial review held before the high court on the 5th of October 2007, is available from here.
Read the full High Court of Justice judgment pdf 237kb

The High Court has blocked the disposal of Alexandra Palace on a 125-year lease to a developer | 5.10.07

The reason for the challenge

The Court agreed with Claimant Jacob O’Callaghan on behalf of SaveAllyPally.com campaign, represented by David Wolfe of Matrix, that the decision by the Commission to authorize the sale by Haringey was unfair. The Palace is governed by a Parliamentary statute, and a Minister had promised MPs that prior to the decision objectors would be fully consulted. This "consultation" was "fatally flawed" because the Commission never published the proposed lease and project agreement referred to with their draft Order, or any details, so that no-one could make a meaningful response about exactly what was proposed.

What parts of the park and palace would be leased and what parts maintained as an public space available for the free use and recreation of the public? How would the maintenance of the park be financed, once the trust lost the asset of the palace, that has financed the park maintenance so far? What assurances if any were given to preserve the heritage and historic elements of the Palace, such as the first TV studios and broadcasting mast?


The hearing

The proceedings were an application to the administrative court for a “judicial review” of the Charity commission decision/Order.


Read more here


Our Aims

:: Stop any sale of a long leasehold interest of the Palace that's not for charitable purposes. The 1900 Alexandra Park and Palace Act provided that both Palace and park be held on trust "for the free use and recreation of the public for ever"

:: Safeguard the studios and the mast which pioneered the world's first high-definition television broadcasts and preserve the outline of the original studios A and B. Preserve and maintain the Palace's Victorian theatre and famous Willis organ. Protect public access to all of these and promote them as visitor attractions.

:: Reconstitute AP's trustees back to representatives of the whole of London and of the nation, capable of and interested in maintaining the Palace and Park for public use under its trusts (e.g. north London boroughs, The GLA, English Heritage, BBC, The Arts Council; individuals who have experience in community, heritage and educational areas.

The Palace is a unique national public asset and should be cherished as such.

sidebar

What's going on at Ally Pally?

NB This site was created to inform people during the successful 2007 High Court challenge to the plans to sell off Alexandra Palace to a commercial developer to turn it into a casino.

UPDATE: The trustees Haringey Council are currently (as of March 2018) planning major changes to how the charity is governed. We will update this site as we learn the details...

Alexandra Palace in Muswell Hill, designed by the Victorians as the People's Palace for educational recreation, music, sport and entertainment, a landmark north London rival to the Crystal Palace, and in 1936 birthplace of television, has lasted 130 years and survived two fires. And, in 1900, it literally became the People's Palace because by Act of Parliament it was given to the people of London, with its Park, in trust for all time.

Is it run as a charity?

Since one single council, Haringey, took over the charity in 1980, important decisions have in practice been mostly made by Alexandra Palace's senior paid officers, not the elected trustees - who have now been largely reduced to rubber-stampers of already made decisions. For thirty years, the Palace had been run as if it were a commercial exhibition business and conference centre set in a municipal park, and the charitable aspects have been quietly sidelined.

TV studio A at Alexandra Palace, set- up for Cafe Continental

 

 

 

 

Senior council officers, and senior Palace management, through their lawyer, used to tell the councillors and the charity commission that Ally Pally charitable trust would be insolvent but for council support, and has never balanced its books in living memory, so the whole building should be disposed of. They also claimed that the developer's commercial activities (including a casino) would still be "charitable in a modern sense" and should be free of all that red tape. But the truth is out there - and it's a little ... different. Visit Selling the Palace page for more information.

You mean it hasn't really been continually losing money!

No-as documents on this site prove. To get their consent for the sale, the councillors and charity commission were solemnly assured by the charity's solicitor that "this is a

charity which has not, within living memory, ever balanced its books". This idea was repeated again and again - even getting as far as a Parliamentary committee. Great soundbyte; only trouble is it's complete bunkum. About as true as the gypsy's curse. According to the real audited accounts, the charity has, both before it was transferred to Haringey and even after, often not just balanced its books but actually made surpluses.

Needless to say, the charity's solicitor, Iain Harris of Howard Kennedy, should never have made this statement to the charity commission if he knew it to be false. Visit Palace Accounts page for more information

 

 

Developing the potential inside.

 

This is outrageous ... but what can be done to stop any sale?

There has been no shortage of efforts. 320 people and organizations from all over Britain and the world wrote to the charity commission objecting. So did the local MP, Lynne Featherstone. And the Hornsey Historical Society and the BBC have asked English Heritage for the Grade II listing to be upgraded to protect the historic studios, which under the new owner's plans would disappear... but the commission just ignored the protests, and agreed to the deal.

If necessary, the High Court will be asked if any sale, or long lease for non-charitable purposes, is consistent with the 1900 Act which made Ally Pally a charity. Visit the Legal Challenge page to find out more

Transcript of the High Court Judgment
Last updated 31.10.0

Transcript of the Judgment of the judicial review held before the high court on the 5th of October, is now published Read the full judgment pdf 237k


Mr Justice Sullivan’s comments:


On the promise to consult | P 23
Moreover, it has to be interpreted in such a way as to make sense of the promise that there would be consultation on how beneficial interests should be protected, rather than to make a nonsense of that assurance and to make it ineffective.

On the need for information | P 25 
Any reasonable person asked to comment on a draft order giving trustees that power, ……would be bound to say: "Show me the lease and the agreement, and then I will be able to answer your question", or at the very least they would say: "If for some reason you are unable to show me the lease and the project agreements themselves, then at least tell me sufficient about them to enable me to form a view about whether entering into them would be expedient in the interests of the trust".
 
On the need for fairness | P 27
I find it difficult to understand how the Commission could have thought that this was a fair process. One would have thought that the alarm bells would be ringing loud and clear,….
 
On confidentiality and fairness | P 30

The Commission, in apparently changing its position and giving the assurance sought by the Trustees that the lease would not be made public, appears to have lost sight of the need for there to be an effective and fair consultation in line with the minister's assurance.

On the need for disclosure by the trustees | P 31
….but it (the Charity Commission) was under an obligation to ensure that those who were consulted had sufficient information to be able to make a meaningful response to the question: should consent be given to the Trustees entering into this particular lease…?

On the Palm Court exhibition in January 2006 and why this
was not sufficient information | 33

…. it is clear that what Firoka were presenting at that stage were outline
proposals, and indeed in a subsequent report they were correctly
described by the general manager of the Trustees as "outlined concepts".
It was clear that the detail would be worked up later, and it is clear from
the extensive documentation in the bundle that there was a lengthy
period of negotiation, and that there were various versions of the lease.
At the end of the day what mattered was not what was shown in outline
at the exhibition in January 2006, but what had been finally agreed and
incorporated into the lease and the project agreement in November 2006,
and it is clear from the documents that changes had occurred over the
intervening months …

On the final date for agreement | P 38
If the lease is not signed by 17 November [sic] - the date should be 17 October. then Firoka will be entitled to treat the Trustees as being in fundamental breach…

On Firoka’s threat to walk away | 40
It is interesting to note that Mr Kassam does not state in terms that even
if full disclosure had been required, he would have walked away, merely
that he would have given serious consideration to doing so. Moreover,
his expressed concern, at least in his witness statement, is about
disclosure in full. It says nothing about the extent to which he might
have been persuaded to agree to some form of redacted disclosure, or
summary or gist of what had been agreed. So if one looks at the evidence
as it emerges from the horse's mouth rather than second hand, some of
the submissions made by Mr Hickman on behalf of the Trustees as to the
likely outcome of relief being given in this case are not made out. …

The Judges’ ruling | P 44
I grant the relief sought. I grant a declaration that the Order is unlawful, and I quash the Order.

Arguing about who should pay the costs:

Mr Wolfe for JOC | P 52
Before the proceedings it was their (the Trustees)  pushing of the Commission on the question of disclosure which led to the position we now find ourselves in….So, I do ask that the court make an order that the Trustees pay the claimant's costs,

Mr Hickman for the Trustees | P 58
We are an innocent party to this…..
we say that there was a mistake on the part of Mr Harris….

Judge to Mr Hickman | P 69
Someone is trying to instruct you. You are being prodded from behind, or will be.

Mr Wolfe on disclosure | P 73
So the Commission was open minded...and it was the Trustees who piled in… putting heavy pressure on them not to do so.

Mr Wolfe summing up | P 76
So, my Lord, whichever way one looks
at it,… in my submission it has been the Trustees in the end in the driving seat.

Judge’s final words | P 82
...it is clear that the claimant ought to recover his costs.   in large measure the Trustees are the authors of their own misfortune, but they have been ably assisted and abetted, I am afraid, by the Commission. In reality, the running today was made very largely by the Trustees, …but again I bear in mind that they are not the decision-making body; that of course is the Commission…they were both equally to blame for this unfortunate set of circumstances, so the proper order for costs would have been a 50/50 order.

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