Connecting Crouch End and Hornsey with news, views and information
A little while I wrote quite optimistically about a meeting I attended with a group of people associated with the Hornsey Town Hall / Mountview project.
I was optimistic because:
Regrettably my optimism has evaporated and I am now once again of the view that I expressed in an earlier piece and which was why I was invited to the June meeting.
The reasons for this are several.
Firstly, while I have had a couple of gushy emails from Mountview, little else has emerged from that quarter. There is scant evidence to suggest that anything is happening to progress the project on the part of Mountview. Given that they are the prime movers, and benefit at least as much from the scheme as do we, the public, this is a cause for some distress. At the time of the meeting I was told that the interim Mountview project manager at the meeting would be replaced by a fully fledged project team. I have seen no evidence to suggest that this has happened or will happen.
Secondly, the Haringey officers are no longer in a position to provide notes of the meeting that took place in June. This is patently absurd - I could provide something like minutes, I have pages of notes, and probably less care about what was and was not "off the record". I suspect that what is at play here is not any reluctance on the part of the officers involved to provide a short record of the proceedings, but the dead hand of the ruling political cabal making sure that any pretensions to openness and greater visibility are soundly suppressed in order to prevent the public gaining any insight into how the process works. Kafka-esque. If I were to bother to ask I'd probably be told that the notes have not been produced for reasons of 'commercial confidentiality'. Perverse given that neither Haringey nor Mountview is primarily a commercial organisation, and the OJEU tender process is specifically designed to make sure that as much of the project data as possible is validated and in the public domain.
Thirdly is the almost total lack of any project plan/progress information. My earlier complaint was that we were not given any evidence that the project was making progress. Any project manager worthy of the name can produce a progress report showing how well the project is going, regardless of what is actually happening. Why are we not allowed to see these flights of optimistic, rose-tinted prose. My conclusion is, that the project is actually going very badly, or that the project manager is not worth his salt, or that there is no project plan against which to measure progress, or that there is no progress to report. What other conclusion might there be?
When I refer to 'scant evidence' let me tell you what I have seen:
A) a press release announcing the appointment of the third firm of architects to this project
B) an item on the Haringey website under the heading 'Places to Visit'
Well, yes, the architects must be loving this. Presumably this latest lot will come up with another innovative concept to preserve the integrity of the historic building, and ensure that the development is exciting and sustainable and blah-de-blah-de-blah, and no doubt submit invoices to the same very high standards. As well of course as the architects who designed the buildings set out in the original planning application. Buildings which no one ever really believed would be built, a fact which has now been publicly acknowledged.
And the item on the Haringey website. One of the promises at the June meeting was a website item setting out plans and progress. What has actually been published is woefully short of the promise. Putting it under the heading of 'Places to visit' seems just a sick joke to any one who has tried to get into the building over the last several years. For a long time we were denied access on the basis that it was riddled with asbestos, a fear which seems now to have gone away. Apart from that you can't get in unless you have the lavish budget of a successful TV series! See here for the scale of charges.
And then the item itself is inaccurate. The investigations I was told about, due to take place over the summer, were not "preliminary" at all but highly advanced. And so they jolly well should have been after all this time. My understanding was that they were designed to determine just how badly the years of neglect had affected the fabric, and just how pervasive the asbestos use had been during the construction.
So this project looks to me like a dead duck, or if not dead, then a very secretive one. And why keep secrets unless you have something to hide.