Crouch End Councillors Monthly Update

Our local councillors (Jason, Sarah, and Natan) have sent their monthly “update” letter to Crouch End Labour Party supporters (you can see/read it here). It included disparaging characterisations of HTHAS and its members.

We feel that it is a rather crude attempt to deflect attention away from the outstanding issues we’ve asked for clarity on:

  • Haringey claim £350 000 a year to keep the doors of Hornsey Town Hall open – despite FOI requests dating back to November why haven’t they given us the balancing income figure (rents, hires, box office etc?)
  • Where will the 75 small businesses go when they are evicted?
  • When will we get details of how the bids were scored?
  • Why is Haringey saying that planning permission for a change of use to hotel is not need when independent planning experts say it is required?
  • Why, eighteen months after the procurement was launched, do we still know so little about the arts venue?

Collectively, members of HTHAS have given thousands of hours of time and expended much effort to try and get Haringey to engage and produce a community-based solution for the future of this building. We all parked politics at the door and focussed simply on trying to achieve the best outcome we can.

These are our elected members. They are our proxy, they speak for us, they are our voice. They represent us. What they say, they say on all our behalf.

Our response is best summed up in Bob West’s letter to the councillors:

Dear Councillors,

I have been shown an email from councillors disparaging the Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society (“HTHAS”), of which I am a member. It is a classic example of our post-truth world and I take great and personal offence at the aspersions and allegations made and implied. I never saw anything like it from elected members in my long career in local government.

The email describes the work of HTHAS as “a dishonest Lib-Dem and UKIP linked campaign”. Defamatory of me and every other member of HTHAS, these words are simply untrue, and maintain a slur that never had any basis in fact.

I joined the HTHAS as a professional offering assistance in achieving what I thought we all wanted: the best outcome for the town hall site in the heart of the Crouch End community. I understood that heritage restoration, affordable housing, community arts/enterprises and extensive public access were shared objectives, evident in the requirements of bidders and within the wider policy context.

Sadly those principled aims seem to have been lost in an unnecessarily secretive process, where we still don’t know the outcome. Instead, councillors have been defensive and evasive (including this unwarranted and diversionary attack), thus inviting inevitable scrutiny from within and outside the authority, not to mention the thousands of local voices raised in petitions, etc.

And now I see this slanderous assault on some of those seeking a positive future for the site. Apparently we are to be vilified for making enquiries as to what you are up to on the community’s behalf and for suggesting alternative options that could enhance what you have had offered to you.

So let’s be clear:

  • we have no links to UKIP. Neither can we stop any party taking an interest
  • we are not Liberal Democrat supporters or members. I think all or many of us are Labour supporters or as in my case paid up members: party allegiances have never even entered into our thinking on this project
  • you have no basis for calling us “dishonest”. You are impugning some highly respected professionals in law, planning, architecture, education and other walks of life

You owe us a widely circulated public retraction and apology as a minimum. I wouldn’t blame others for wanting to take this much further as the grounds are there: and I would expect internal disciplinary moves. If you can take time off from trying to demonise us, you can get on with the real business of making public now exactly what everyone wants to know: the details of Hornsey Town Hall’s future.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely
Robert West
BA, B.TP; MRTPI and ARIBA (retd)

7 Replies to “Crouch End Councillors Monthly Update”

  1. Well done Bob West for putting into words what so many of us local people have thought as we have watched this charade unfold. Time for some honesty from our elected representatives now.

  2. Shocking behaviour by elected representatives. In any case i thought UKIP were a legitimate UK political party. This is just to divert attention from the appalling sell out by Labour of the Town Hall. And just how many Town Hall websites are there going to be?
    Has Calire Kober responded to Hugh Flouch’s enquiry via Harringayonline about protecting war and other memorials inside the town hall when it’s flogged to the highest (foreign) bidder?
    Keep up the good work

  3. Not quite sure who wrote the “councillors” letter. I find it hard to believe that Jason or Natan could have done this. It was utterly wrong and a letter of excuse should be made anyhow.

    It is very insulting to mix issues of “racial tensions” and the legitimate concerns of normal local people with the future of a public building. This is exactly what politics should NOT be about.

    I hope we can return to a pleasant and civil debate asap.

    Happy new year to ALL and peace on earth.

    JC Lanoe

    1. Absolutely agree re: pleasant and civil debate. That’s why we took the lead in calling for a better tone to the discussion in our post just before the Christmas break.

      The best outcome doesn’t come as a prize for the best name-calling.

  4. I am not altogether surprised by this letter. The best way unprincipled politicians have of avoiding serious questions is to throw mud. Why can we not get a clear and straight answer to our qiestions?

  5. Since 1982 when I did a major research and dissertation on Hornsey Town Hall as a good example of modern(ism) civic architecture I have lent my support to around five groups, including HTHAS, who have campaigned for the restoration of the town hall as a centre of culture for the entire borough of Haringey.

    So, for thirty years I have witnessed the total lack of effort or attempt by Haringey Council to save the town hall from deterioration and return it to a place of civic pride. It is only now that the exploitation of London’s civic architecture by property developers have turned them into cash-cows for many councils that Haringey have decided that what London, with a huge housing shortage, needs is more boutique hotels.

    Personally, I find this attempt in the councillor’s monthly update to bring race and party politics into the debate around the town hall particularly offensive because as a black British citizen I believe that playing the ‘race card’ often delay progress by highlighting differences. Furthermore, in supporting HTHAS, I am able to lend my expertise as a designer and lecturer in interior architecture to the debate and practical initiatives. But what is most shocking to me as a former Labour Party member is the descent of Labour councillors into the post-truth world of Donald Trump.

  6. I am very shocked by the newsletter from the Councillors. Surely Jason Arthur and Natan Doron do not give consent to this slur on HTHAS
    and the organisers of the Festival? Anyone who has had any dealings with the Festival Organisera would know without a shadow of doubt what decent community minded individuals they are with no political axe to grind whatsoever.

    This is surely a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Perhaps the writers of the newsletter are projecting their own political shiftiness onto an innocent community group as a very underhand diversionary tactic.

    An apology YES, absolutely.

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