HC Deb 01 March 1966 vol 725 cc1072-3
13. Mrs. Joyce Butler

asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government on what factors he based his decision to discard the public trustee system in the administration of Alexandra Park and Palace, in view of the successful operation of this system by the local authorities concerned over many years.

Mr. Crossman

I cannot agree that the administration has been successful. The efforts of the trustees have been severely hampered by limitations in their powers and by lack of funds, and it has long been clear that it was impossible to get the maximum benefit from the Park and Palace under the present system. In deciding to entrust control to the Greater London Council, I am convinced that I have achieved the essential basis—unified control and availability of capital—for the development, frustrated for so many years, of this superb 220-acre site for the good of London and of the whole nation

Mrs. Butler

In view of the general concern about the rate burden, is it not a retrograde step to transfer the Palace from a local authority trust which, whatever my right hon. Friend may say, has administered it successfully for more than 60 years without any call whatever on the rates? Is it not a discourtesy and most unfair to the borough of Haringey, which has the Palace wholly within its area, to deprive it of any say in its future control?

Mr. Crossman

In reply to the last point, my hon. Friend already knows, I think, that the Greater London Council has given an express assurance that Haringey will be represented on the managing committee. As for the question of whether keeping within the rates is the sole test of the use of this magnificent site, I have visited it and walked round with the manager, who told me that the revenue with which he was provided by the trustees was not sufficient even to do one coat of paint on the inside. He had a £6,000 revenue subvention each year, two-thirds of it from Middlesex. This was not sufficient, and I felt, therefore, that the chance should be given to the Greater London Council.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

For what purpose does the Minister contemplate that the Greater London Council will use the site?

Mr. Crossman

If one looked at the site and then went across to Crystal Palace and saw the difference in the development of that other park site, one would see the kind of thing that the Greater London Council would do.

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