‘Devastating’ – campaigners fight to save old town hall

This article has appeared in the Tottenham and Wood Green Independent.

The dismay expressed by all the campaigners is offset by the repeated assertion from Haringey that “Strict bidding criteria will mean that any proposals that fail to demonstrate community access will not be considered.”

‘Devastating’ – campaigners fight to save old town hall

Campaigners “furious” at the proposed sale of their town hall are trying to save it from being sold off.

Hornsey Town Hall has been put up for sale by Haringey Council after a bid from a Crouch End theatre school fell through earlier this year.

The Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society (HTHAS) have launched a petition to keep it open to the public, which has so far gathered 2,000 signatures.

The Society say the Grade II listed building should remain in the hands of the community and fear it could be turned into a shopping centre, hotel or flats.
Spokesman David Winskill, who served as a Crouch End councillor from 2002 to 2014, expressed his concern at the situation.

He believes the hall should be a major arts facility for Hornsey, Haringey, and the whole of north London.

He said: “People just cannot understand why Haringey is preparing to place the hall’s future in the hands of a private developer with only the sketchiest understanding of community use.”

The hall opened for the Crouch End Festival for the time time over the summer and people realised it can be a “fantastic” community aasset.

The society now want Haringey Council to consider a ‘community asset transfer’, meaning it would be owned by the public to use and enjoy it.

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Amanda Carrara of HTHAS said: “It’s just devastating to think that the community risks not being able to use the hall.

“The idea that it could be taken over and turned into anything, it’s beyond the pale that it could be taken away.

“I’m absolutely furious about it.”

Hornsey Town Hall was originally built for the borough council in 1934 but after a council reshuffle in 2000, it is now used been used for a range of community events.

The council is willing to hear from bids from all interested parties – be it public or private.

Fellow Society member Chris Currer said the hall and the green surroundings are “indispensable” to the community.

He said: “The hall has just been a massive surprise. For four years it’s just this massive hulk with the doors padlocked shut, now it’s incredible to see how the community has flowered up around it.

“I think everybody is just non-plussed. To take it away from the community would mean to lose something we’ve only just got.

“It’s the place to go for the community. Suddenly there’s a huge risk it is just going to go away.”

Those who support the Society have also lent their voices to the debate.

James Lambert said: “I want to see the town hall conserved for its wonderful art, architecture and historic value.

“But most importantly as a living entity at the heart of the community with open access to the key parts of the interior for community use.

Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green and Shadow Foreign Minister, has also given her support.

In her letter supporting the society, she said: “It’s an asset, not just to Crouch End, but to the wider area and I know from the amount of people who have contacted me over recent months that there’s real local enthusiasm for a long-term future for this unique site that safeguards the arts.”

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Haringey Council said: “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.

“Strict bidding criteria will mean that any proposals that fail to demonstrate community access will not be considered.”

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