Lynne Featherstone celebrates campaign success as Alexandra Palace station earmarked for access improvements

Lynne Featherstone MP with Dawn Barnes and Councillor Gail Engert, campaigning for step free access at Alexandra Palace Station

Lynne Featherstone MP has expressed her delight at news that Alexandra Palace station has been included in the ‘Access for All’ programme.

This means work will be done to install ramps and lifts – finally making Alexandra Palace station step-free and accessible for everyone.

It marks a success for the local Liberal Democrat MP’s campaign for more accessible local stations – which has attracted the support of over 700 local residents.

The Coalition Government will announce an extra £60 million in funding for the Access for All scheme during the Autumn Statement tomorrow. Part of that funding will pay for the improvements at Alexandra Palace station.

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“I am so delighted that Alexandra Palace will finally get improvements to make it step free, and also with the Government’s investment in the ‘Access for All’ programme. It will be will be so helpful for the elderly, the disabled, or those with heavy bags, pushchairs, or bikes.

“I’d particularly like to thank all the 725 local residents who signed my petition, calling on Network Rail and the Department for Transport to improve accessibility at our local stations.

“I’ve had discussions with both the Department and Network Rail in recent months and weeks to try and secure these improvements – and I am sure the strength of feeling behind the campaign made an impression on them.

“Of course, there is still a long way to go until all stations are fully accessible – but this is such a huge step in the right direction – and great news for Haringey!”

Lynne Featherstone MP discusses future of Alexandra Palace with Chief Executive

Lynne Featherstone MP at Alexandra Palace, with the television tower in the backgroundLynne Featherstone MP met with Duncan Wilson, the Chief Executive of Alexandra Palace, today. The local landmark recently secured funding of £16.8million to regenerate the Palace from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The local MP was updated on plans for the regeneration work, which is scheduled for completion in 2017 and will include a renovation of the theatre and the BBC television studios. The lighting in the great hall will also be restored and made more energy efficient.

Lynne was also informed about upcoming events at the Palace this year such as the Red Bull Soap Box Rally and the 150th Anniversary of the park. Celebrations will feature local bands, hot air ballooning, cricket and archery.

After the meeting Lynne Featherstone MP said:

“I am thrilled that Alexandra Palace has secured funding for its regeneration. It is a wonderful building and a source of great pride for the community. I’m very excited to see it return to its glory days.

“I wish them every success with the 150th anniversary celebrations this year and I look forward to seeing the end result of the regeneration project in 2017.”

Ally Pally given funds for redevelopment!

Lynne Featherstone MP at Alexandra Palace, with the television tower in the backgroundWhat fantastic news to wake up to – Alexandra Palace has been awarded an £800k grant to get its restoration plans off the ground! This will be followed by a whopping £16.8million for construction work, once the plans have been finalised.

The team at Ally Pally want to transform the eastern wing, by bringing the Victorian theatre and BBC studios back to life and making it accessible to the public.

The local Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for 15 years for proper plans to revamp the Palace and Park. It hasn’t been an easy ride – as the Labour-run Council bungled decision after decision, trying to sell off the landmark and costing the taxpayers millions in the process. But finally, the Palace is now moving in the right direction.

Duncan Wilson, the Chief Executive of Alexandra Park and Palace has said that: “The ‘People’s Palace’ in its entirety can now become a reality and we are thrilled that the HLF have endorsed our plans for its future.”

I am so happy, and couldn’t agree more!

Here is the quote I sent to the press first thing this morning –

“Congratulations to the team at Alexandra Palace, who have successfully secured millions in funding for the historic site.

“From the start, the bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund was well researched and involved local people. The proposals for the theatre and TV Studios attracted particularly strong support in the public consultation – so it’s great to see them at the centre of the restoration plans.

“After years of turmoil, the Palace is now well and truly on the right track and has taken a great step towards securing a long term future. Thank you to the Alexandra Palace team, and to the Heritage Lottery Fund. I can’t wait to see the results.”

Ps – I recently described Alexandra Palace as my favourite landmark, and made a recording as part of the ‘London Beyond Sight’ project. You can listen to it here.

Lynne Featherstone MP opens charity Ice Gala

Lynne Featherstone MP last week opened a charity ice skating Gala at Alexandra Palace Ice Rink.

The Gala was arranged by Alexandra Palace Amateur Ice Skating Club, in aid of Children in Need and the Alexandra Wylie Tower Foundation – which funds work with under-privileged children in memory of a local skater who tragically died nearly two years ago.

The Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green gave a speech about the importance of volunteering, and how all young people should aspire to be the best they can be. The opening speech was followed by musical and skating performances, including Gangnam Style on ice!

After the event, APAISC Events Secretary Cheryl Juckes said:

“I would like to thank Lynne very much for so generously donating her time to us. Having an MP there makes any night special but having one who so obviously cares and is interested in everyone she meets makes a world of difference.

“The children found Lynne’s speech very inspiring and the adults who had given their time were delighted to hear their contributions acknowledged.”

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“It was an absolute honour to open the Gala, which was so well organised and executed. The performances were inspiring and I was so impressed with the thought and effort behind the event.

“On top of that, it was all in aid of two very good causes. I wish Cheryl, the team and the performers all the best of luck for the future.”

Lynne Featherstone MP welcomes Alexandra Palace's bid for funds

Lynne Featherstone MP has welcomed news that the Alexandra Palace Trust Board has formally approved a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The bid – which has the backing of the Save Ally Pally group and a large number of user and historical organisations – is due to be submitted in the next few days. If successful, it would lead to the refurbishment of both the TV studio complex and the Victorian theatre.

Two years ago, the Board of Trustees decided to abandon the search for a single developer for Alexandra Palace, and agreed to a more realistic and ‘organic’ approach towards development at the Palace, rather than through one developer. This was welcomed by Lynne Featherstone MP and the local Liberal Democrats at the time.

In addition to supporting the bid, the Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey and Wood Green also recently made a recording for VocalEyes – a nationwide audio description charity – describing why Alexandra Palace is her favourite landmark.

Haringey Liberal Democrat leader, Councillor Richard Wilson, added:

“This bid will help to secure Alexandra Palace for future generations. It will also help unlock crucial funding for the refurbishment and regeneration of other parts of the building, and enable the TV studios to take a real leap towards their deserved World Heritage status.

“Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for 15 years for proper plans to revamp the Palace and Park and so we are delighted to see this happen at long last. This shows what you can achieve if you take local people and local representatives with you.”

Lynne Featherstone MP commented:

“Alexandra Palace is now firmly on the right track, with an imaginative and ambitious programme to restore this cultural gem.

“I have been very impressed with the new team at the Palace. The bid to the HLF has been thoroughly researched and involved local people. The proposals for the theatre and TV Studios attracted particularly strong support in the public consultation – so it’s great to see them at the centre of the bid. I wish the team the best of luck!”

Your views on improving our rail services locally!

Good news for our rail system! The coalition is making a massive investment into transport here in London and specifically up to £6billion on the Thameslink service. That is going to have a major impact on some of our local stations. Alexandra Park, Bowes Park, Hornsey, Harringay and Finsbury Park stations are the ones to be aware of locally.

I’m pleased to see that a consultation is to be sought, as it gives local residents and passengers of these services the chance to have their voices heard on the subject.

The investment is to reduce overcrowding and improve services at those stations from 2018. The idea is longer trains and more trains – and the plan could also deliver new destinations like St Pancras, Farringdon and London Bridge as well as current destinations like Kings Cross and Moorgate.

Of course – there may be a fly in the ointment for some of the stations. For example, the restructuring of the services could reduce the number of trains stopping at Hornsey & Harringay stations – which not surprisingly – is unlikely to be popular with local people using those particular stations.

This is because the proposal includes increasing the size of the trains on the service to 12 carriages, and stations like Hornsey & Harringay are only large enough for trains with up to 6 carriages. As the franchise is likely to be granted increased commercial freedom for this development contract, it may decide to reduce the number of services to Hornsey & Harringay to accommodate this.

It important to remember that the proposal is still at consultation stage and that is why I want to here your views on what should happen to train services at Bowes Park, Alexandra Palace, Hornsey, Harringay and Finsbury Park: Are the trains regular and reliable enough? Who should manage the trains and stations? Are the times of first and last trains OK?

I am in the process of arranging a meeting with Transport Ministers to make the case personally on behalf of local people so please just email me at

With your help I can make sure that our local transport services are protected and ensure local passengers beenfit from the new investment.


Alexandra Palace – two clubbers die

You will have seen on the news the death of two young men – both who had been at dance music events at Alexandra Palace on Friday and Saturday. One other young man is in hospital in a stable condition.

The management at the Palace have put out this statement

The key point being that if you were at the Palace and took any substances and do not feel well – then please go to A& E to get checked out.

The police are investigating the incident.

Liberal Democrats welcome Ally Pally decision

Last night’s landmark decision by the Board of Trustees, to abandon the search for a single developer for Alexandra Palace, has been welcomed by local Liberal Democrats. Yesterday the Ally Pally Board agreed to a more realistic and ‘organic’ approach towards development at the Palace, rather than through one developer.

The Liberal Democrats hope that the important decision now draws a line under repeated and failed attempts, driven by the Labour Council, to impose a ‘big bang’ development solution on the much-loved Palace.  This strategy led to the failed deal with Firoka, a mistake that has already cost local taxpayers millions of pounds. The Palace was only saved by a successful judicial review driven by local campaigners, and has since endured damning reports on woefully lax governance arrangements that were exposed in the fiasco.

Cllr Robert Gorrie, Leader of Haringey Liberal Democrats, comments:

“Finally, we are seeing some much-overdue sense prevailing at Alexandra Palace. Local taxpayers lost millions of pounds when the Labour decided to flog the Palace off, without regard for the consequences or the views of local residents. That expensive fiasco highlighted the virtual collapse of effective governance at Alexandra Palace and has prompted a number of long-overdue changes in personnel and approach.

“I am glad that there is recognition of the flaws in the previous approach.  However, a successful and sustainable future for Alexandra Palace will only come with independence from Haringey Council and the leadership of independent trustees.”

Lynne Featherstone MP adds:

“The botched Firoka deal was never going to be in the best interests of the residents of Haringey. Campaigners and Liberal Democrats told Haringey Council this at the time, yet they forged ahead on a path which was only doomed to failure.

“I welcome the news that a new path has been set and I look forward to a revived Alexandra Palace for the people of Haringey to enjoy.”

Liberal Democrats urge Alexandra Palace to be considered as new Olympic venue

Badminton shuttlecockAfter efforts failed this week to move the Olympic boxing events from East London to Wembley, local Liberal Democrats are urging Olympic organisers, the Mayor of London and local councillors to consider Alexandra Palace as a possible alternative venue for boxing, badminton or rhythmic gymnastics.

Liberal Democrats believe moving an Olympic venue to Alexandra Palace, one of most iconic buildings in North London, would be an ideal opportunity for residents in Haringey to benefit from the Olympics, for more young people to be encouraged into sport and for the Olympics to have a lasting legacy in the borough.

Cllr David Winskill, Liberal Democrat Culture and Sport spokesperson, Cllr Robert Gorrie, Haringey Liberal Democrat Leader and Lynne Featherstone MP have written a joint letter to Sebastian Coe, Chair of the London 2012 Organising Committee Board, the Mayor of London and the Chair of Trustees at the Alexandra Palace urging them to consider Alexandra Palace.

Cllr David Winskill comments:

“Residents in Haringey are getting little, if any, direct benefit from the Olympics at the moment. News that badminton, boxing or gymnastics events need a new home is a fantastic opportunity for the Council to be proactive and ambitious.

“Alexandra Palace is an iconic building which has a long history of holding large and important events.

“It will not be easy and some investment in the Palace would be needed to get it up to standard. But this would be a great opportunity for the borough to be put on the Olympic map and for Alexandra Palace to get some well overdue investment. It would also ensure that North London would have a legacy of the Olympic post 2012.”

Lynne Featherstone, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, adds:

“Residents in Haringey deserve to have a slice of the Olympic action. Alexandra Palace is a fabulous venue that has a long history of hosting large events including boxing.

“I really hope that the London 2012 Organising Committee seriously consider Ally Pally as an Olympic venue.”

What's going on at Alexandra Palace?

Alexandra PalaceHere’s my latest column for the Highgate Handbook and Muswell Hill Flyer:

Beautiful building, fantastic location – but a financial nightmare. That’s been the history of Alexandra Palace over the last few decades as one bungle after another has seen tens of millions of pounds wasted – with the bill for clearing these losses landed on the Haringey Council Tax payer.

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen Haringey Labour desperately trying to wash their hands of the problem – but wanting to do so by selling off much of the site on a mammoth 125 year lease to a private developer. A deal was sort-of struck with Firoka, which has since fallen through – leaving Haringey facing a £6.2 million claim from Firoka.

Liberal Democrat councillors have repeatedly criticised this deal – the way in which it was rushed through, the lack of decent public consultation, the lack of proper safeguards in the deal (especially for the historic TV studios) – and the failure to sort out crucial details.

Following the collapse of the deal, there have been two independent investigations – both with damning conclusions about how Labour councillors have behaved. The second one – known as Walklate 2 – concludes that “entering into and maintaining the licence [with Firoka for them to take over Alexandra Palace] has led to losses to the Trust in the region of £1,500,000. The Trustees were not given financial information of the effect of the licence … nor were they given the opportunity to consider whether they wished to revoke the licence.” That is £1.5 million in losses in addition to the £6.2 million claim.

As the reports have shown, the Trustees of Alexandra Palace were kept in the dark about major parts of the deal, they were not told of the concerns raised by some staff and they were not told key financial information either. In other words – there was such a drive to try to get Ally Pally off Haringey’s hands that things were rushed, kept secret and done badly.

The report also concludes that, “There is a moral imperative on any senior management team, particularly in the public sector, to take collective responsibility for such matter and this simply did not happen.” Mistakes, losses – but no-one carries the can other than the rest of us – who have to pick up the pieces through our Council Tax bills.

You just wonder when this pantomime of hideous errors and misdeeds will end; when we the taxpayers will stop having to foot the bill for incompetence and possibly worse and when our beloved Ally Pally will be free of the smell of things not quite right. Next local elections perhaps?

If you missed it before, you can still watch my short YouTube film about Ally Pally.