Haringey Council and FEC Sign Agreement on HTH

Here’s the text:

Wednesday 15 February 2017
The multi-million pound renovation of Hornsey Town Hall and square – including a new arts and community centre and careful restoration of the historic Grade II* listed building – has been guaranteed.

Haringey Council’s agreement with developers FEC, which has now been signed, secures the future of the iconic landmark in the heart of Crouch End, with:

  • A new arts centre, with community access and café/restaurants
  • Complete restoration of the ageing building, removing it from the national Buildings at Risk register and improving it for modern use
  • Improvements to the Town Hall Square, with continued public use
  • A boutique hotel
  • New housing and landscaping

FEC (Far East Consortium International Ltd) are working alongside developer CoPlan to develop detailed designs for the Town Hall, and will appoint a specialist arts centre operator to ensure the building remains a vibrant creative hub.

The agreement between the council and FEC guarantees continued public access to, and use of, many parts of the building including historically significant spaces such as the assembly hall, foyer, council chamber, supper room and committee rooms.

FEC will take forward the ongoing discussion with local groups about community provision and have committed to setting up a steering group, including representatives from community organisations, once the building has re-opened.

Restoration is expected to start in early 2018 and follows a decade of joint working between Haringey Council and the residents’-led Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust (HTHCT) to secure use of the building and square, and revitalise this part of Haringey.

Cllr Alan Strickland, Haringey Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, Regeneration and Planning, said:

“The significance of this agreement can’t be understated – it guarantees Hornsey Town Hall for future generations to enjoy, with millions of pounds of investment and complete renovation of one of north London’s best-loved landmarks.

“We know how much Hornsey Town Hall means to local people. We share their passion, and I’m delighted that this contract means we can restore and future-proof the building, safeguard Hornsey Town Hall Square and ensure residents can continue to enjoy top quality arts and community events in the heart of Crouch End.”
John Connolly, Head of Development at FEC, said:

“We’re really pleased to have signed an agreement with Haringey Council to deliver the complete refurbishment of this iconic Grade II* listed building.

“Our ambitious vision is for a restored Town Hall complete with a new arts centre, improved public square and a new café/restaurant to offer residents new community space.

“We’re looking forward to working with local residents, community groups and businesses to ensure that together we can deliver a scheme to make Crouch End proud. We look forward to announcing further details of our programme of community engagement.”

Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust said:

“The sensitive restoration and refurbishment of this much-loved, iconic and nationally significant architectural gem – while ensuring as much public access and use as possible – has been the raison d’être of the HTHCT throughout its 10-year existence.

“It is very exciting to have, at last, reached a stage here the funds will now be available to take the project forward. The Trust’s commitment to ensuring a very high quality refurbishment and surrounding development, together with an exciting mix of community and arts uses, remains unwavering.”

 

Here’s the link: http://www.haringey.gov.uk/news/secure-future-hornsey-town-hall

Where’s ANA?

 

HTHAS Write to Jeremy Corbyn In Response to His Remarks on Tax Havens and Public Assets

HTHAS have written to Jeremy Corbyn (ex Haringey Councillor, MP for our neighbouring North Islington constituency and Labour leader) to ask him to try and get Haringey to suspend the sale of HTH and have a re-think (our letter below).

Earlier this week, in a speech about the public sector’s relationship with overseas companies registered in a tax-haven (like the Caymans) Jeremy announced that if Labour are elected, “No company will receive taxpayer-funded contracts if it or its parent company is headquartered in a tax haven. “

If you agree and want him to intervene in HTH, you might want to drop him a line with copies to Claire Kober, Jason Arthur…and us!

Continue reading

A way to save a town hall – Winskill Makes the Observer

The following from Mr Winskill’s letter published in the Observer on New Years Day:

Chris Currer is absolutely right when he says of the disposal of Hornsey town hall that “Haringey council’s choice seems to hinge mostly on the money” (“Cities paying the price of austerity”, News).

The tragedy is that there is a workable and sustainable alternative that this doctrinaire-driven cabinet refuses to discuss – a community asset transfer to a trust. This would allow full restoration of this wonderful building, the provision of social and affordable housing, community use and an arts centre, as well as relieving the council of its cost. Instead, it has gone for the luxury housing and boutique hotel model that will impress their developer chums but cut no ice with the thousands of homeless families in Haringey who will be spending the holiday season in temporary accommodation.

David Winskill
Hornsey Town Hall Appreciation Society and CIC, London N8

FOI Request re: Income Derived from HTH – Update

Many weeks ago HTHAS decided to test Haringey’s claim that one of the main reasons for the sell-off was that any council facing government cuts on the scale confronting Haringey cannot afford to spend money on keeping the Town Hall Open. It is a mantra that they have been repeating for eighteen months and is one of the fundamental justifications they give for the now almost signed, sealed and delivered disposal to FEC.

Without a doubt it is true that the cuts are brutal and that the £350k figure it costs Haringey to run the building is reasonably accurate.

But how much income do they receive (rent, box office cut, antenna rental, film and TV shoots) that goes towards offsetting this £7 000 a week spend?

We have had a reply to our FOI and here is the answer: FOI Request re: Income from Hornsey Town Hall

So, on the basis that they have to ask a 3rd party how much money they make from activity in Hornsey Town Hall (don’t they know?), Haringey have so far decided not to tell you, dear reader, how deep you actually have to dig into your pocket to keep the dear old Town Hall open! Could it be that the income/expenditure equation nearly balances? Or that they are perhaps even making money?

If the claim, made repeatedly at Overview and Scrutiny and at Cabinet, proves to be false, can we all expect a new year retraction and apology?

Please please please – keep the pressure up on them and keep writing with questions, requests for justifications and begging them to pause the sale (Crouch End Councillors)

This battle to save this North London jewel and the heart of Crouch End, to provide social housing, small business spaces, and a proper arts centre is not over and the Appreciation Society will continue campaigning to the end.

We hope you’re with us.

From the Appreciation Society  …  A Very Merry Christmas and A happy New Year.

Polite Discussion

Dear All,

Here at HTHAS HQ, we’ve noted the unkind nature of some comments regarding the personal conduct of the Crouch End council representatives.

Please can this stop. Jason, Natan, and Sarah are nice people. They’ve spoken to all of us, engaged with the public as they think best, taken questions, answered challenges. We think they’re wrong but that doesn’t make them bad people.

Questions may and should be asked about what they do – that’s the duty of us as the voting public. Questions are not accusations, though. That distinction deserves care.

So, no vitriol, please?

HTHAS have always tried to be as fact-based as we can while conveying our opinion that they are making a mistake – a mistake, that’s all.

We can disagree while being civil. We can be friends while arguing.

And, with that, happy Christmas all.

HTHAS December – Quick Update

There’s been a lot going on behind the scenes of the on-going saga of Hornsey Town Hall lately. So, here’s a quick update on what’s been happening:

  • HTHAS went to see the Overview and Scrutiny Committee last month. A large number of councillors from both parties had succeeded in a very rare call-in of a Cabinet decision:  to appoint FEC as preferred bidder. The meeting was one of the longest in OSC’s history (nearly four hours) with some very hard questioning by councillors form all sides. They were so unhappy that they referred it back to Cabinet with eleven recommendations in particular some pointed ones about the provision of social housing in the project. Sadly, though not a great surprise, Cabinet subsequently took those recommendations “under advisement” and reaffirmed their earlier decision.
  • Later came a leaked email from Councillor Adam Jogee (the Labour Whip) reprimanding group councillors who had arranged the call-in.  It later emerged that Cllr Jogee is employed by a PR/lobbying company that has in the past worked for CoPlan Estates – one of the lead bidders. No improper conduct is suggested but further investigations reveal that the company, Terrapin, have lunched and dined with Haringey Cabinet members 13 times. Again, nothing should be implied but, gentle reader, reflect that HTHAS got six minutes to present when we went to OSC and, if a lunch lasts two hours, then Terrapin got over twenty five hours of face to face meetings with Cabinet members for a mess of potage … or whatever was on the menu.
  • HTHAS have been attempting to arrange meetings with FEC/CoPlan to understand what exactly they are planning, how the hotel will work, what they will do with the square and what their ideas are for an arts centre.  As yet they are unwilling or unprepared to meet the community saying they are working to agree an engagement plan with Haringey.
  • Crouch End Festival were surprised to be offered £5000 as a donation from FEC – Council arranged this themselves, CEF had not asked for it – to help pay for the Christmas tree and the increased Haringey charges for hiring the green.  CEF refused it,  saying they don’t accept corporate donations (sponsorship, yes; donations, no). A strange move by Haringey when they are at the negotiation table with  FEC.
  • A grumpy email from Jason Arthur suggests that this is the last year when the community will arrange the Christmas tree and the lights as Haringey and FEC will be doing it themselves next year.
  • Crouch End Festival Christmas market went off very well, complemented by a craft market inside HTH. Carols, the big Christmas tree, the lovely weather, and the happy crowds show exactly how HTH and the Green should be put to community use. We hope FEC were watching.
  • We hope to meet with HTH Creative Trust early in the new year (they helped score the bids in the procurement process) to find out more about the timeline and what they plan to do next.
  • A flurry of Freedom of Information requests have been sent to Council, most met with a refusal – you’ve guessed it: commercial confidentiality. We are particularly interested to know the net running costs Haringey are claiming for HTH We await responses to our follow-ups.
  • We continue to get first rate support from various councillors and from Catherine West MP: all want to see more affordable/social housing in the scheme, provision for small businesses and a sustainable, community led arts offering in HTH.

It is still important that we keep banging the drum and try to get Haringey to do exactly what Claire Kober wisely promised last year ..

 

“If we go out to procurement and the right solution isn’t found, will we be bold enough to say “this isn’t working” and go back to the drawing board?’ – when something’s not going right and doesn’t feel quite right the best thing to do is to re-group and take the tough decision of saying it’s probably right that we don’t go down this route and we either, in the case of procurement, stop the procurement and go out again or rethink the strategy more fundamentally.”

Claire Kober, the Leader, on the Hornsey Town Hall procurement, June 2015

 

So, keep them emails rollin!

HTHAS off to see the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday

Dear All,

HTHAS are off to present a deputation to the Oversight and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday as they consider a call-in of Cabinet’s decision to ratify their selection of preferred bidder.

The idea is to get OSC to send the matter back to full council for a wider and more open debate that better reflects the strength of feeling in the community.

Here’s a link to the OSC agenda for Tuesday (it’s at 19h00 if you’re up for it): OSC

If you agree with sending this matter back to full council, please click the link below to send an email asking for just that.

EMAIL COUNCIL

This worked on Chrome and on an iPad, if it doesn’t work for you, I’ve posted the text and addresses in a comment below.