OpinioN8

Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information

The Hornsey Town Hall Creative Trust has been in overdrive this year with news bulletins this year - two in May, three in June and now one in October all sent out by email, and even more on the front page of the website.

Make what you will of the latest with its talk of rigour, bidders scoring more for enhanced community use, and a somewhat enigmatic 'legal agreement'. There are also presuppositions about how much the project will cost, where the money will come from, and the allocation of responsibility for various aspects. My fear is that the HTHCT is locked into a mindset where pushing the envelope would require them to think so far outside the box they couldn't possibly bring nearly enough clichés to bear. Their vision is still to create “a world class model of civic renaissance, an arena for all that harnesses the spirit of progress, community, creativity and enterprise for future generations in Haringey, London and beyond” when it is perfectly bleeding obvious that the building works very well just as it is. Though of course the odd tweak here and there would not go amiss. My view remains that good enough is a very high standard.

Latest update on Hornsey Town Hall

As many of you know, Haringey Council (LBH) is about to start the formal procurement process to find a developer for the Hornsey Town Hall site. This complex process is governed by strict EU rules and is very tightly regulated. The tender will be published on Delta-eSourcing.com, the recognised site for public sector tenders. 

The Trust has entered into a legal agreement with LBH in order to be a member of the panel that will evaluate developer/operator proposals for long-term, sustainable community use at Hornsey Town Hall. All bids have to be considered and scored equally. We've also made sure the Council has contacted all those groups that have expressed interest in the Town Hall to ensure that their details are made available to prospective bidders as part of the tender documents.    

Rigorous selection process
All bidders will be asked to confirm that they will meet at the very least LBH’s minimum requirements for community access and use but, crucially, bidders will score more – and are asked to provide specific information – for enhanced community use, i.e. beyond the minimum requirements. They will be asked toprovide proposals that facilitate cultural, community and other activities in the Town Hall that meet our stated aspirations for the building. We also want to hear about how often they would propose to make this space available, how they see the management and governance of community use and how they will ensure its long term viability. 

No one should be under any illusion about the rigour of the procurement process. This needs to tie in, of course, with the restoration of the building that will take it off the At Risk Register and make it fit-for-purpose in the 21st century so that the full potential of HTH can be realised. 

To do that, it’s estimated that it will cost at least £10 million. That money will come from the development of the land to the rear of the Town Hall, with the same developer taking on responsibility for both the development of the land and the necessarily high-quality refurbishment of the Town Hall. That certainly doesn't rule out a separate operator coming in to run the Town Hall on a day-to-day basis following its refurbishment.

Next steps
So the next twelve months are crucial for the future of Hornsey Town Hall. Many in the community are questioning why we feel it's important to work in partnership with Haringey Council. HTHCT evolved out of local passion and action over 10 years ago and the response that the Appreciation Society is able to muster today is evidence that that passion in the community has not waned in the intervening years. We've always believed it's important to work with the Council in order to help influence the final outcome and find a long-term, sustainable future for the building that meets community aspirations rather than against.

But that doesn't mean we've always agreed about the Council's approach to the Town Hall. We've plugged and plugged away about the importance of community access and use of the Town Hall, so clearly articulated in the consultation we undertook earlier this year (http://hornsey-town-hall.org.uk/index.php/consultation/).

Like everyone else campaigning for the Town Hall, we're driven by the need to find a viable creative, ambitious solution that works for everyone, not just the people of Crouch End but the whole of Haringey and beyond.

Tags: creative trust, hornsey town hall, ojeu

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"We've plugged and plugged away about the importance of community access"

Down in the hen house on my knees
I thought I heard a chicken sneeze
But it was only the rooster sayin' his prayers
Thanking the Lord for the hens upstairs
Rooster praying , hens a-laying
Pore little pullets just plugging away best they know how

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