An Open Letter to Claire Kober, leader of Haringey Council

The text below is an open letter that the Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society will send to Claire Kober. Please read it carefully, and if you would like your drama society, art group, book circle, arts based business, play group or any other sort of organisation to be included in the list of signatories, then please send an email to

To: Claire Kober
cc: Cllrs Strickland, Arthur, Doran, Elliot, John McGrath, Saheeda Parveen,

Dear Councillor Kober


We, the undersigned organisations representing community and arts groups in Crouch End, believe that Hornsey Town Hall is a unique and wonderful local asset. We want to see it transferred into community ownership in order to safeguard community use and access in the long term, rather than being sold off to a private developer.

We call on the council to:

1.        Give full Cabinet consideration of Community Asset Transfer of Hornsey Town Hall, as proposed by Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society, and


2.        Delay the OJEU disposal process for 6 months in accordance with Community Right to Bid legislation

This will provide time for the council and community to work together to deliver the best long term solution that keeps the town hall in community hands.



HTHAS offers suggestions for the future of Hornsey Town Hall

26th August 2015


Dear Councillor Kober,

We are writing to raise issues with you about the forthcoming sale of Hornsey Town Hall, and propose an alternative route that the council could take.


We request an urgent response on the issues set out below:


  1. Full Cabinet consideration of Community Asset Transfer of Hornsey Town Hall
  2. Delay of the OJEU disposal process for 6 months in accordance with Community Right to Bid legislation



  1. Full Cabinet consideration of Community Asset Transfer of Hornsey Town Hall

As a matter of urgency, we request that the council considers Community Asset Transfer (CAT) as an alternative to the sale of Hornsey Town Hall through the OJEU procurement process. We have set up Hornsey Town Hall Community Interest Company to provide a vehicle for this purpose. Our reasons are …


  1. a) CAT meets council objectives

The council’s objectives are:

  • To achieve a restoration of the Town Hall
  • To facilitate cultural, community activities and a positive contribution to the local economy
  • To remove Council liability
  • To integrate the Town Hall Square in the scheme


Transferring the asset to a Community Interest Company (CIC) can meet all of these objectives. Most importantly, transfer into community ownership with the appropriate governance would go further than a private developer to ensure that the community aspirations, as captured through the public consultation carried out by Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust (HTHCT) and the urgent need for a full restoration of the fabric of the building will be delivered, while removing the liability for the building from the council.


  1. b) CAT would simplify the procurement process

By taking the car park to market without the encumbrance of the town hall, we believe the sale would attract more potential investors and achieve a larger capital receipt which could be invested in the restoration programme.  Bundling the car park with an obligation to restore the town hall over complicates the offer and will deter possible buyers.


  1. c) Historic England places no barriers to achieving a CAT

Officers at Historic England have informed us both that renovation works can be phased, and that “an escrow agreement or an alternative strategy for disposal could be appropriate, providing it secures the future repair and viable use of the listed building”. Historic England’s publication ‘Pillars of the Community’ sets out in detail the routes that local authorities and communities should take into order to facilitate a Community Asset Transfer of a heritage asset. We would like to work with Haringey on this process. There is no reason to cite the conditions in the current planning permission as a barrier to a CAT.


  1. d) Funding is available to pursue this option

If the council is in support of this process, we have been advised by the Architectural Heritage Fund that we would be eligible for exploratory funding to put together a business case for asset transfer, making Council expenditure beyond that already earmarked unnecessary. Further, a CIC with charitable status will be able to attract funding and a favourable tax regime that commercial organisations are denied.


  1. e) The CAT option has not been fully considered by council

We do not believe that the CAT option has been fully considered by the council and, despite asking, have been given no evidence to the contrary. Saheeda Parveen has asserted that: “This solution was considered but is not being pursued as it does not provide a viable solution that meets all of the council’s objectives and statutory obligations”. We can demonstrate that it canprovide a viable solution, and the lack of discussion over this option is an omission in both the Cabinet debate and the GVA options appraisal.


You and colleagues have said that you welcome a community bid. If a community group can demonstrate that it has a viable and sustainable plan to lease and run the town hall post-procurement, then why not adopt a simple process to sell the car park to raise capital for the town hall rather than hope that a kindly developer will decide to work with community groups following an arduous OJEU process.


Previous discussions about long term uses of the town hall did not have the benefit of being informed by operational model being developed by ANA (currently running the town hall as the Hornsey Town Hall Arts Centre).


In light of the above, we ask that the council:


  1. Delay the OJEU disposal process for 6 months in accordance with Community Right to Bid legislation


So far we have been disappointed by the council’s approach to the listing of the town hall and square as an Asset of Community Value. Though the legislation requires a 6 month moratorium on the sale of the asset, officers have told us that we will be given no such pause to enable us to put a bid together, but that the procurement process and moratorium will run concurrently. This is absolutely not in the spirit of the legislation.


Further, to trigger the moratorium, the council must give notice of intention to dispose of the land. Though logically, this would be done on publication of the OJEU tender notice, your officers have notified us already (August 19th) meaning that the 6 month ‘pause’ must be triggered immediately – losing us at least a month as we cannot possibly start to put together a community bid until the terms of the procurement are clear, should we wish to pursue this option. We are additionally prevented from participating in the OJEU process (despite the council ‘welcoming’ community bids) as a new CIC will not pass the tests in the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire, disqualifying us from participation at the very outset of the tender process.


We ask that the intention to dispose notice is withdrawn, at least until the OJEU papers are published.  We also ask that our questions about the contradictions between the Community Right to Bid legislation and the OJEU process with regard to a community bid be addressed.


We ask you to postpone the OJEU process itself for 6 months. This would be in keeping with the Community Right to Bid legislation. If the Council wished it, the ACV listing could be used as a prudent intervention.


The six month pause on the sale could be used to mutual advantage. An immediate pause would allow a period where both parties could thoroughly test the prospect of an asset transfer, and enable us to create a viable sustainable business plan. We believe that the funds and guidance of such bodies as AHF, HLF, and Historic England could facilitate this and provide a ready-made map toward an asset transfer to a CIC with a robust and sustainable future.


We request an urgent reply on these matters and make ourselves available to meet at your convenience.




Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society

Mark Afford

Chris Currer

Amanda Carrara

Adrian Essex

Miriam Levin

David Winskill


Meeting with Councillors to discuss a community bid / the ACV process / Community Asset Transfer

We met at HTH at  9:30 on Thursday 20th August 2015.


Community: Amanda Carrara, Chris Currer, David Winskill, Adrian Essex

Councillors: Alan Strickland, Jason Arthur

Council consultants: Jo Pickering (Sharpe Pritchard), Saheeda Parveen (property services)

DW relentlessly pursued the three major points of the meeting as below:
1) OJEU robs the community of its opportunity to have a 6 month moratorium. CC reinforced this point – “we want our 6 months back”.
2) the proposed umbrella organisation will be very difficult for the community to pursue, especially without the time to prepare
3) we were promised last week of details on why Community Asset Transfer was rejected and where this is documented in the trail of cabinet documents. We very much prefer the option of CAT with 1) the car park and 2) the Hall offered as separate parcels. We regret the misinterpretation of the current planning permission and the inaccurate references to English Heritage being used as barriers to a CAT. Our understanding of the situation leaves the CAT possibility open.
The responses were:
1) the ACV and OJEU processes run in parallel – get on with it. Action SP undertook to explore whether the notice to dispose can be withdrawn and re-issued at the same time as the OJEU papers.
2) JP claimed knowledge of instances where the umbrella/developer alliance has worked very well. She undertook to explore whether telling us about them would infringe OJEU confidentiality. We expressed a very strong wish to have examples. Action JP to let us know of examples if permissible.
3)  we were again promised of details on why community asset transfer was rejected and where this is documented in the trail of cabinet documents – action SP by early next week
Other points that arose:
JA suggested we are being cynical about the process, where he is optimistic.
AS cited the LBH consultation process as validation of the cabinet approach. We are cynical about the consultation process.
AE suggested that the GVA document was flawed for it lack of options, and its concentration on failed models rather than exploring the current situation.
JA/AS said that the cabinet has taken its decision and that this will not be overturned unless we (the community) can demonstrate very substantial benefit from an alternative approach.
DW re-iterated that a Community Asset Transfer has worked very well in many other councils around the country and that it is still our preferred approach.
There is a potential conflict for the community being both a bidder and a partner in a consortium.

Email to Officers and Councillors about the ACV / OJEU contradiction

This email was sent to the following officers and  councillors of and advisers to the London Borough of Haringey on 18th August 2015
McGrath Jon <>, Parveen Saheeda <>,,,, Cllr Strickland Alan <>, Cllr Arthur Jason <>, Cllr Doron Natan <>, Sarah Elliott <>
Dear  all,
We are writing to thank the council for the listing of Hornsey Town Hall and Square as an Asset of Community Value, and recognising the importance it has for the community.
We are also delighted to see on your website that “The council will welcome bids to restore, lease and run the Town Hall, together with development of the remaining site, from any interested party – including community groups”.
We are in the process of setting up a Community Interest Company for the purpose of enabling a community response to the sale of the Town Hall.

We are heartened by the Advice Note for Local Authorities on the Community Right to Bid from Department for Communities and Local Government which says that: “During the interim moratorium period a community interest group may request in writing to be treated as a potential bidder for the asset; this will bring the full moratorium period into force. The community interest group does not have to provide any evidence of intention or financial resources to make such a bid (our emphasis).

However, the standard PQQ questions that bidders will be subject to during the OJEU process effectively precludes a community organisation which is unable to provide evidence of financial resources. Further, the PQQ process happens in the first few weeks of the procurement, which effectively closes down a community bid at the first hurdle – in no way giving us 6 months to develop a bid

Therefore, we seek as a matter of urgency, clarification on how the council proposes to reconcile these two statements, and enable us as a community group effective access to the six month moratorium period as expressed in legislation.
a) Can a community interest group be exempt from fulfilling the criteria of the PQQ?
b) Can the procedure be halted either after or prior to publishing on OJEU?

We also have found that the chosen route of a procurement via an OJEU procedure places other obstacles in the path of a credible community bid. Although the council have stated their support, under OJEU rules they cannot offer meaningful help; and secondly, we have found that the council’s position vis-à-vis the OJEU process has also effectively ruled out our gaining funding and support from outside bodies, such as the Architectural Heritage Fund.

Is there any manner in which the council can postpone the OJEU process in order to find solution to these challenges? We want to work productively with the council throughout this process as we believe we can offer an answer to the issues that the council face in terms of their liabilities, and can meet all the stated objectives for the Hornsey Town Hall.

We look forward to an urgent reply on this matter.
Yours etc.

Haringey’s announcement of the Asset of Community Listing

Taken verbatim from the Haringey website on 16th August 2015

Update – 13 August 2015

“Community value” status for Hornsey Town Hall

Hornsey Town Hall and Square has been designated an asset of community value (ACV) in recognition of its cultural significance to Crouch End and Haringey.

Haringey Council confirmed the ACV designation following a community nomination from members of the Crouch End Community Arts Festival.

The status is formal recognition of the community value both of the much-loved Grade II* listed Town Hall and the public square and green in front of it – and underlines the council’s ongoing commitment to preserving the landmark for future generations to enjoy.

Cllr Alan Strickland, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said:

“We welcomed the asset of community value nomination and I’m pleased that we’ve been able to give Hornsey Town Hall and Square this official recognition.

“We share local people’s enthusiasm for the Town Hall, which is why we’re committed to finding the best possible long term future for it – one that will respect and protect its Grade II* listed architectural heritage, offer community access and secure its future.”

Work to find a sustainable future operating model for the Town Hall is continuing as planned. The Town Hall site will go to the open market later this year, with the council hoping to secure a long-term lease arrangement with a partner that will take forward refurbishment works to the listed building as well as redevelopment of the remaining land on the site.

The council will welcome bids to restore, lease and run the Town Hall, together with development of the remaining site, from any interested party – including community groups – that can demonstrate how they will offer community access while securing a lasting future for the building. Strict bidding criteria will mean that any proposals that fail to demonstrate community access will not be considered.

ACV designation means that if the site was put up for sale, there would be an initial pause of any sale for six weeks to allow any community group to make a written request to be treated as a potential bidder.

If a community group was to come forward as a potential bidder during the six-week pause, a further moratorium of six months would be triggered, during which time the asset could not be disposed of unless to a community interest group. Following the six-month period, the site could be disposed of.

It is anticipated that putting the Town Hall site out to the open market and securing the right partner will take longer than any moratorium period that could be triggered by the ACV designation. Should any community group come forward as a potential bidder, they would be able to engage with and respond to the open market opportunity. Further information on this process will be advertised in due course.

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Hornsey Town Hall is granted Asset of Community Value status – press release

HTH Arts Centre
The Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society has had confirmation that Hornsey Town Hall and Square has been listed by Haringey Council as an Asset of Community Value (ACV), following on from the nomination put in by the Crouch End Festival.
We welcome the Council’s decision (, as it recognises the huge value that the Town Hall and Square have for the people of Crouch End. However, it leaves little room for celebration as the council have informed us that they will not honour the spirit of the legislation by giving the community the additional time to put together a community bid for the town hall, which we want to do in order to bring the Town Hall into community – rather than private – ownership. 
What an ACV listing should do is place a six month moratorium on a sale, so that a community has an opportunity to prepare its own bid. However, rather than supplying the community with this vital breathing space – the Council have declared that the timetable for the sale should be unaltered.

The headlong rush to dispose of the Town Hall site to developers is dependent on the EU system of publishing a tender in an ‘OJEU procurement’ process: a process which effectively bars community bids in favour of big business and wealthy investors. For the council in effect to say “the time allowed is long enough” does not  meet the spirit of the ACV legislation, when the community is actually locked out of bidding in the process. 

We fear that Haringey’s procurement process could result in an outcome that pleases nobody. We will continue to press Haringey for changes to the proposals and the process. Instead, we are continuing to offer Haringey Council a real solution that meets both the council’s objectives and the long term wishes of the community: community asset transfer to a not-for-profit Community Interest Company.

Amanda Carrara, one of the joint signatories of the ACV application said:
“This is a vindication of the views of all those thousands of people who visited HTH for the first time during June’s Crouch End Arts Festival. They simply couldn’t believe that Haringey have started a process on such an important building which seems to have disregarded the option of an asset transfer to the community.”
Chris Currer adds “In tandem to the successful listing, we have recently applied to register a Community Interest Company which could become the vehicle for a community asset transfer. This is an option that dozens of councils up and down the country are adopting when planning new lives for old buildings. Why not here in Haringey?”
If you’re interested to find out more about what we’re trying to do – and be part of the campaign to bring the Town Hall into community ownership, join our facebook group: , or follow our blog or drop us a line