This week’s historic court judgement on Alexandra Palace (courts blocked the planned sell-off) is a damning indictment of the behaviour of the Labour councillors who rammed through the deal on Ally Pally with Firoz Kassam’s Firoka group. It is justice being done and seen to be done (see Hornsey Journal here and here and Ham & High coverage).
A real local hero, Jacob O’Calloghan (who is a local historian), is the David who took on the giant of the Labour establishment over their now found to be much wanting ‘sale’ of Alexandra Palace. Throughout the process Labour steamrollered through an inadequate consultation process in which they refused to let anyone know the terms of the contract. Yes – they were told. Time and time again local campaigners and Liberal Democrat councillors raised these issues – but Labour ignored voices that contradicted their plans.
And the Charity Commission, tasked with the proper conduct of charities such as Ally Pally, showed itself to not only be toothless but in my view negligent in their duties.
The judge was clearly appalled by what has gone on and had no qualms about saying so. During Friday’s hearing Mr Justice Jeremy Sullivan attacked the Charity Commission for being “completely unreasonable and wholly unrealistic” in its treatment of residents’ concerns.
He suggested that a fresh consultation process be launched and the lease be made available for people to see so they could make an informed decision about whether they agree with it.
But where are we now? Well Matt Cooke (the Labour Chair of the Ally Pally board) has refused to take any responsibility for this stinging judicial rebuke. He should resign without question – but he has instead spent his time writing to the local papers to churn out the sort of rubbish his quote in the Ham & High demonstrates:
“Our priority throughout has been to restore the palace for future generations of Londoners whilst removing the financial burden of running the palace and servicing its debts from the shoulders of Haringey taxpayers. We have no reason to assume achieving this objective is no longer possible and every reason to consider fulfilment is just a few short months away despite the temporary delay caused by the High Court.”
Haringey taxpayers have suffered long and hard and expensively – but only because of Labour’s incompetence over decades. Getting this judgement simply demonstrates why Matt Cooke and Labour need to get booted out altogether. They don’t even admit it when they are exposed as incompetents who freeze out meaningful public consultation – as with this example from last year:
Imagine the scene. A group of residents want to lobby Haringey Council about the plans to hand over Alexandra Palace to the Firoka group.
What does Labour do? They say, no – you can’t lobby the full council meeting, you must go to the Palace Board meeting. And when is the next Board meeting they can go to … not until after the decision will have been made about whether to give Firoka the site!
You can have your say, but only when it’s too late with Haringey Labour!
And the real issue is that the Palace could be a wonderful resource for local people and the wider population – but with Labour’s handling that opportunity is being wasted, yet again.