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)