Alexandra Palace has been leased to the Firoka Group for 125 years, as Labour councillors voted to ‘sign off’ the draft lease and agree to hand over Ally Pally to the private sector. Liberal Democrat councillors abstained on the vote, saying that while they were not in principle opposed to the leasing of the palace, Labour had ignored serious concerns that they had raised, meaning they could not support the lease terms proposed.
The current process of selling the Palace began just over a year ago, and early on, Lib Dems were asking questions about the protection of the historical assets of the building. More recently they have voiced their serious concerns over the long-term protection for the world’s first public broadcast TV studios and the CUFOS community centre, as well as concerns that the Palace building is poorly protected against the demolition of its internal structures.
Councillor Bob Hare, Lib Dem Spokesperson on Alexandra Palace, said:
“We are not opposed to the principle of leasing the Palace, as long as it achieves a good result for the Palace and the people of north London. However, we have numerous concerns about the deal that has been negotiated which we feel have not been adequately answered. We shall be putting our concerns to the Charity Commission during the 30 day period for representations that will be starting now.”
Liberal Democrat Alexandra Palace and Park Board Member Councillor Sheila Rainger adds:
“Our concerns lead us to believe the deal on offer does not protect some of the key elements of the charitable trust, moreover, we have some doubts about the processes leading to the lease. The Charity Commission must look closely at the details of the proposed sale before it approves this lease. We will be making representations to the Charity Commission, and would encourage anyone else who has concerns to do so.”
Lynne Featherstone MP comments:
“Everyone, particular the Haringey taxpayer will be relieved to be no longer burdened with the cost of the Palace. That said, the future of the Palace now rests in the hands of the Firoka group for the next 125 years. I wish this new endeavour every success. However, this success still needs to incorporate the aspirations of local people and the preservation of the unique birthplace of television. I will be keeping a keen eye on progress as this take shape.”