Harringay online

Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Consultation outlines interim character of Hornsey Town Hall Plaza

A limited consultation by Haringey Council is asking residents how they think the space in front of the old town hall in Crouch End should be used whilst the longer term plans are taking shape.

If you go through the consultation questionnaire, you can get a pretty good sense of the way things are likely to go.

And there's even a bit of survey arm twisting. If you don't like any of the choices in Question 3, your way is barred. Choose at least one card or fold! (Don't worry though, you can always plump for 'Visual rts events' and choose your own definition for that term in Q3a).



But, having said that, I was glad to see that the Council are leaving no stone unturned. Question 5, for example, asks if you think it's appropriate for 'crinks' to be sold at market stalls. Crinks in Crouch End! Outrageous, there'll be diots. I wonder if that's why they start the question in a whisper.



You can have your say online here or download a paper-based version here.

Below is the formal invitation:

The regeneration of Hornsey Town Hall and Square has been the subject of extensive consideration and public consultation over several years by the council, working with key stakeholder groups including the Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust.

The council is working with Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts on a longer term development plan for the Town Hall, and in the meantime would like to see the Town Square brought into use.

In May 2011, the council approved a temporary relaxation of street trading licensing across the borough to stimulate ideas about how some areas could be made more vibrant, and in June a call was made to the local community to submit ideas for the use of Hornsey Town Hall Square.
The council has received initial ideas for a range of cultural events and an occasional farmers’ market.

What we are consulting on The council is seeking your views throughout October on allowing event licenses and street trading permits to be issued for occasional use of the Town Hall Square from this November until late 2012.

The benefits of occasional uses are:

  • Any activities will be for a trial period only. Local residents’ views will be sought on the benefits or drawbacks of activities
  • The original goal of the square as a lively civic space can be fulfilled
  • The square is integral to the wider regeneration of the Town Hall
  • A licensed trader in the area may deter illegal street traders
  • Income generated from a licensed street trader would be re-directed to enforcement against illegal traders and entertainers
  • Control over street entertainment in terms of the type, times and locations, for example directing it away from residential areas late in the evening
  • Controls could be placed on the quality of goods, appearance of stalls used, days, times and the health and safety conduct of the licensed traders.

Previous consultation has highlighted some challenges to be overcome, such as:

  • Increase parking demand from extra visitors to the area
  • Concerns from existing businesses that customers may be drawn away from them to street trading
  • Additional rubbish may be generated
  • Noise nuisances may be created by musical or other performance events.
The planning application showed how these challenges could be managed, but you may have further concerns or questions which you want to raise.

When we are consulting

 Until the end of November


Who we are consulting

 Local residents and businesses

How we are consulting

You can have your say by:

  • Completing our online questionnaire
  • E-mailing hth@haringey.gov.uk
  • Sending the paper questionnaire to Hornsey Town Hall Renaissance Project, Room 1:15, Civic Centre, High Road, Wood Green, London N22 8LE


What happens next?

 We will take views into account when making decisions on submissions for events and trading. We will also keep you informed of planned activities through our website and via your local councillors, Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust and the local residents and trade organisations.


Tags for Forum Posts: consultation, crouch end

Views: 230

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The basic idea of using the Town Hall square more flexibly has always seemed like a good idea to me. Many years ago I tentatively suggested it. Of course this was ignored - very politely of course. As C.Northcote Parkinson once wrote: "Delay is the deadliest form of denial."

I'm glad you've pointed out some silly typos in this survey. I spotted a few more. Do people want "visual rts events? (Reclaim the Streets? Russian Trading System?). There's "Gender Reassingment". (With the Crouch End Chorus?)

As a Private Eye item it's amusing. But as the official face of Planning and Regeneration in our local Council it makes me wince. Does nobody use a speelchacker?  Or re-read first drafts? What were senior managers doing?

But there's a far deeper problem. This sloppiness is far from unique. In some ways it's symptomatic of poor quality work in areas of far more concern than an online survey.

For example in 2009/10 several HoL members took part in the citizen-investigation which exposed serious failings by the Planning Service in detecting fraudulent Certificates of Lawfulness. Last year I sat as a substitute on a major planning hearing where the senior officer's main report was peppered with typos; and even had incomplete sentences. All this was before the current director arrived - she has her work cut out.

Mark Moore wrote the interesting book Creating Public Value. It included case studies describing some of the best features of public bodies. But also how effective action can transform some of the worst. One example of the latter was the Boston Housing Authority. Harry Spence was appointed to turn it round. He said:

By day two I was doing things like taking letters back and saying: 'This has a typo in it'. That kind of thing was fundamental because the agency was so sloppy. [There were] just no standards whatsoever. In some sense this was ludicrous little stuff . [But] in another sense it says, 'This represents the quality of the work we do, and this is crap'."

(Labour councillor Tottenham Hale ward.)

Well spotted Hugh! It's not that the survey is poorly designed, its that its designed to force particular answers. It's tendentious in the same way as the council survey in connection with Down Lane Park in Tottenham was tendentious: broadly it asked, how much of your existing park would you prefer to lose?!

[I recently completed an on-line form (not municipal) which refused to advance to the next page unless I entered exact dates from 40 years ago that I'm expected to remember. I used 01 in all cases in order to progress. Many of these forms are designed by morons.]



But how sloppy can the council get? The rubbish spelling demonstrates a lack of care. No one will be criticised for the carelessness, let alone issued with a caution (of course it is hugely rare for anyone to be sacked for any reason).

These surveys go through the motions. One former cabinet member is said to have been overheard saying "we must be seen to consult". Like most council consultations, Haringey will do anyway do what it always intended.

The survey doesn't matter anyway, so why should anyone take spelling seriously?

Low standards beget lower standards.

Low expectations beget lower performance.

Apparently not enough people care what happens, so the Council do whatever they see fit - our own fault.


I see the Town Hall Square consultation as simply smoke and mirrors obscuring the calumny of the Town Hall disposal. Traction cannot be attained by fomenting resistance to the Hornsey Town Hall sell-off, the Square is evidence of our apathy. We deserve what we're getting and can't be bothered to even express views, let alone be pro-active. We must be meek when seeking permission to use our own village green and we already know it will be mainly refused - serves us right for asking! Farmers Market? Forget it. The fact that the Council do not know how to conduct a representative consultation is a stick they beat us with - that's a real problem for all.


The Council's mistake in selling Hornsey Town Hall to a private University for £1 on a 125 Year lease is more our loss than theirs. It's the largest public space we've got here by far and it's disposal will affect my life and the life of my family for generations as it will be closed to us forever now. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make Crouch End a better place to live and, if attention were paid to the monstrous inequalities that plague our borough, a huge opportunity to make Haringey a better place to live.


That's why the Council spent £2m over many years promoting a multi-use arts centre and thus setting our expectations. Here the much-trumpeted plan we all thought would go ahead until this year's April Council meeting. Planing permission had been granted. The years they spent on it failed because all the plans they endorsed cost money and the Council will not subsidise the place - an error of judgement - they forward invest in other areas. They shot themselves in the foot at our expense, the left hand promising what the right hand said they couldn't. Now that, finally, the Town Hall is paying it's way (being rented out to TV Companies), the chance to make it a mixed use space (that costs the Council nothing and can make a profit for them) exists but they do not want to take it, having found a single tenant to bet the farm on. That's a hard pill to swallow - they could give us all they promised but they won't.

The crushing effect on our creative community is bad - what is worth developing in Crouch End if not our community? Even with this blow, I hope many people see that Crouch End is a place where important things can happen that help reduce inequality, empower people and spread the wealth around more evenly.  The need is in Tottenham but it's here too.  How many things will now not happen because people are denied the space, cannot use the public resource built right in the heart of our community to help us grow better together? The University will fill the space with expensive courses on Musical Theatre for the elite at the cost of every other form of expression. That is not enough public benefit put in for the precious resources they consume.  Letting art exhibitions run in the foyer, being paid by the Council to host Saturday morning clubs for all and sundry and letting us buy tickets to training performances in the  Assembly Hall is not enough. Wee lose a local asset that can reflect our locale - a rich mix of all sorts of stuff - a profitable multi-use centre, not a security-guarded campus we can't use because the University demands 100% control.


It looks to me that the private University will to scoop this prize - I don't know, all of the meetings about it are secret, there are no supporting documents we're allowed to see and the surprise decision to sell was made behind closed doors and rushed through without even the barest form of consultation. The planning process is all that remains open to us.

At one point the private University offered to move into Alexandra Palace and spend £7m on that refurb - buying a Town Hall for £1 is a much cheaper deal for them - they must be over the moon! They're paying £600k for their present accommodation now in Wood Green (which needs them more than us) so they'll save all that money when they move here and get lots more for free. They'll be taking on highly-paid directors to spend the public money windfall to make our Town Hall even more beautiful inside and knock down the ugly bits to build an outside studio - that'll allow them to charge more than the current £15,000 per student per year to even more people.


Although I don't think any of the staff, students or Directors are from the borough (or ever have been), I'm sure the Directors will all get well-deserved OBE's at the end of it because the luxury refurb of such a jewel of a building will attract awards, grants and even better fee-payers from all over the world. At least two of the present Directors are paid around the £100,000 mark at the moment and it shows - a superb coup for them!


The tenant's current turnover of £5m is dwarfed by the £20m of public money to be be showered on them as part of their prize - who knows what happens if bad management bankrupts them? Crouch End loses valuable public space - over 100 flats were to be built tp pay them to move in but the tenant has so much money that they've awarded themselves a chunk of the land so that only 78 flats need building in the car park. 


All this then is a long winded way of saying that the views of one person can make little difference unless others agree and agree in numbers and, even then the Council will resist us contradicting them as they seem to think they know better. When it was clearer that our Town Hall was being sold off there were the biggest and most vociferous public demonstrations ever seen in Crouch End with a huge groundswell of community action and goodwill. The Council then sought to lock up the protests by dividing and conquering and succeeded in quelling the unrest - people no longer want to protest, knowing they will be defeated.

This is the real problem - governance failed and people were defeated. We have the Council we deserve - who can get us out of the hole we've helped them dig for us - do we have to form a new Town Council for Crouch End


There are a few parallels with Alexandra Palace. Both involve disregard for major public buildings in the west of the Borough. The poor maintenance record is proof enough. AP came close to being given to a rich, former slum-landlord for a rumoured £1.5m plus fantasy profit-sharing arrangement.

Given Hugh's attention to the HTH "consultation" it is perhaps ironic that the reason Haringey slipped up (in the High Court) over AP was the quality of the Consultation organised.

De jure, the AP sale Consultation was organised by the Charity Commission (AP is our charitable trust) but de facto, the scope of the Consultation was shaped by the council. (In particular the 125-year Lease was concealed from the public. (We later learnt for a fact – despite several attempts at obfuscation – that the council gave permission for a casino and the world's oldest surviving TV studios would have been replaced by 30,000 square feet of office space.)

The Judge recognized that the running was largely made by the Trustees (i.e. the council), which was why costs were awarded against them, along with a big dollop of criticism.

With both AP and HTH, the council is keen to give away major public assets, for little or nothing. The major difference is that AP is our Charity, whereas HTH is owned by the local council. Sadly, the public has and will have little say over what the council has in the past described as a "disposal".

I wonder how many of AP's problems could have been avoided rather than having to go to court after the fact? You have written that AP is more likely to succeed were there to be independent experts on the AP board of trustees and I guess you pressed for that at the time to no avail.  

The independent experts we had involved have years of experience in meeting in secret, have spent millions of our money on consultancy for plans which were never going to happen because the Council mandated 'no subsidy' and these 'great and good, mainly local people' refuse to even reveal their meeting dates, let alone allow the public to look at their minutes. And they do this with impunity - no comeback will ever fall on them.

I don't see how I can help apply any safeguards to the HTH process before the building is lost to the public.  Objecting to the planning application is possible but, as permission has already been granted for HTH as a multi-use arts centre, I don't yet know enough to know how likely it is that the new application (mainly for change of use I suppose) can be defeated.

By the time the full impact of the HTH mistake is felt, I probably won't know how then to go about helping the Council to extricate us from the mess, because the failed consultation mechanism will still pertain and once the private University are in they'll be much harder to dislodge.  We won't even be able to look through the windows at the marvellous interior when passing through the centre of Crouch End - perhaps they'll drop the word 'Hornsey' from the Town Hall and rename it with their own brand.

I wonder how many of AP's problems could have been avoided rather than having to go to court after the fact?

I'm not sure what you mean by this Chris. AP has a number of basic disadvantages and a number of basic advantages. Unfortunately, all of this is overlaid with the huge problem of chronic, deeply dysfunctional goverance.

Going to court didn't solve that but it did prevent our charity's guardians disposing of its main asset for wholly commercial purposes

With AP in the hands of the rich former slum-landlord, the public would have derived even less benefit than they do now.

High Court action was a last resort. I beleive the Judge recognized that legal action was taken as a last resort and after many and all attempts at reason had failed. The Charity Commission was given a chance to review their "sell" decision. I suspect they came under pressure to force through the sale from the Trust Solicitor for 22 years, Mr. I. Harris of Howard Kennedy. The Charity Commission appeared to believe the assertions of I. Harris and they continued with sale approval.

Later in Court, the Commission were lambasted by the Judge and they received possibly the most severe judicial criticism in their history. The barrister for the Charity Commission was apologetic.

Remarkably, the barrister for the Trustees (i.e. the council and instructed by Howard Kennedy) stated that

"We are an innocent party to this … we say that there was a mistake on the part of Mr Harris …" (The Judgement, para 58).

The whole sorry mess is like a long-running soap opera regularly screened by the council.



© 2024   Created by Hugh.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service