Haringey Council have rejected plans for a casino at Alexandra Palace, prompting speculation that other components of the Firoka group’s plans for the Palace, which include the popular ice rink and television museum, may now be in jeopardy. Serious criticism has been levelled at Haringey Council for the manner in which the decision was taken as the majority of councillors at the meeting explained that they had no knowledge at all of the plans before the meeting.

Two months after being notified of the plans, the Council’s Executive group met to discuss Labour councillor Harry Lister’s report on the casino just days before the crucial decision had to be made.

Despite having received a briefing just two weeks prior to the meeting, almost none of the Labour group knew that the casino was intended for residents of the hotel only, and not for the general public. Chaos reigned, and the Executive rejected the plans. With the purdah period for the council elections starting on the 23rd March, the decision cannot be revisited, as the majority of the Executive’s functions are now suspended until after the local elections in May – by which time, the deal will have been finalised.

Lib Dem Councillor Bob Hare, a member of the Palace board, comments:

“The decision-making process has been ludicrously bad, and now the chance to debate the matter further has gone for years. While the Liberal Democrats and I may have reservations over casinos, we do insist that councillors who take decisions that will affect Alexandra Palace for the next 125 years will have at least listened to briefings and been aware of the details of plans before decisions such as this are made.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Councillor Neil Williams comments:

“The people of Haringey are all too aware of how little their opinion on the future of Ally Pally matters to the Labour-led Council. There has been no satisfactory consultation, and this is because Labour want to be rid of the palace as soon as possible. It is just typical of Labour’s attitude towards the palace – they want to take the money and have nothing more to do with it.”