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September 24th, 2016 | by BTC News
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Old Fire Station Building, Tottenham Green
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Image by Alan Stanton
Fortunately the redesign of this building did not follow the garish, out of place "artist’s impression" on Haringey Council’s website.
(To view that drawing, scroll down and click the link under "Notes". )

"Council admits it is actually £300,000 for Chickentown‏"

Below – slightly shortened – is a discussion begun by Martin Ball on Harringay Online website. It’s about Haringey Council’s massive subsidy for the Chicken Town restaurant. Read the original here.

By Martin Ball:
  "Papers provided by Haringey Council reveal that the Chickentown venture is set to reach more than the originally declared £250,000. The business venture will be supported by £300,000 of public money. This is made up of a £90,000 grant and a £210,000 loan.
  The loan will be re-payable over eight years. The loan terms are 5% and repayments based upon thresholds reached in profits. So, no repayments until £50,000 distributable profits after tax are achieved in any year and then repayments are made of 25% of remaining distributable profits after tax.
  Which in lay-person terms means no repayment until £50,000 profit achieved in the year.
  Here is the link to the Council Planning meeting on 23rd July 2015. Please click to to download the officer report in support of Chickentown application to turn the old fire station on Tottenham Green into their Chickentown restaurant." (In PDF format.)

Reply by Alan Stanton July 23, 2015 at 13:54
  "Luck, luck", said Chicken Finger-Licken as coins, banknotes, bitcoins and euros rained down on her. "I must go off to tell my Bank Manager. There seem to be some stinkingly rich councillors around here."
  "Or maybe" , said Joe Golduck, with a wink: "They are spending someone else’s money?"

Reply by Osbawn July 23, 2015 at 17:06
  "That’s a few social workers, teachers or day care centre budgets! Not exactly a finger-lickingly good use of public funds when there are more pressing priorities in the borough."

Reply by Alan Stanton July 25, 2015 at 12:19
  "Yes, Osbawn, this time the sky really is falling."

Reply by Osbawn July 25, 2015 at 14:55
  "We’re all plucked, Alan!"

Reply by Clive Carter July 26, 2015 at 9:44
  "I couldn’t agree more Osbawn."
  The motives behind Chickentown are commendable. However there has to be doubt that this chicken-restaurant experiment or "strategy", will make a meaningful contribution to public health, or even any contribution.
  There are also surely doubts as to whether the chicken shop business will succeed and whether the soft loan could be repaid.
  A majority of restaurant start-ups, of all kinds, fail relatively quickly. An extra factor here is that the location for the restaurant appears to have been chosen by politics, rather than by commercial experience.
  The public funds from which this largesse is abstracted, was casually described by the lead member as ‘the riot money’."
  (Haringey councillor, Liberal Democrat Party)

Reply by Alan Stanton July 26, 2015 at 12:58
  "Clive, I’m not sure if ‘a majority of restaurant start-ups, of all kinds fail relatively quickly’. I’m told the figure may be around a quarter.
  A Financial Times (FT) article in May 2015 mentions the relative decline in pub-going. With restaurant eat-out customers rising as the drink-out trade fell. And overall it still seems that the restaurant business in London is growing – with people ready to take risks on new ventures or relaunching older establishments.
  Though this means increased competition. The FT quoted a restaurant owner saying that: ‘… it’s just hand-to-hand combat to get great sites’. The competition can include pop-ups and so-called street food. Also an expansion of chains. For example, Granier in Wood Green is a franchise from a successful Spanish business.
  As we see locally, competition can take the form of restaurants spending more on interior design, new kitchens, furniture etc. Established places may revamp. Which costs serious money, of course.
  So put this all together and look at the Tottenham Green context. A sometimes lovely green space which the KoberTories are determined to turn into some sort of semi-permanent market. Along the High Road, to its north and south, are established restaurants and cafés – some independently owned; some chains. (Like Costa).
  Unlike any other local restaurants and cafés, Chicken Town won’t need to put up so much of its own cash. Because it’s getting a massive public subsidy: a grant + a soft loan. With premises in a publicly-owned building overlooking a pretty green. (Recently revamped at public expense with a projected cost of £1.2m; but ending-up costing £1.5m. )
  It’s interesting that the brave new world of Chicken Town was announced as a done deal even before it had been given Planning permission. And before local residents living nearby were notified and had the chance to voice their views and any objections to the change of use. (There were many. Ignored of course. )
  As a most-favoured business, Chicken Town got free publicity from Haringey Council – before the Planning application, of course. The Council’s website had an "artist’s impression" of […] a design to uglify our emerald gem of Tottenham Green. (Please scroll down to see note below.)
  And that’s before we think about waste arrangements. Not a problem if we ever have a half-way competent Council, able to keep Tottenham streets clean and properly look after its green areas.
  Is Tottenham Green a prime location? Is there "hand-to-hand combat" for this site? Perhaps not. But parking may be a problem. Unless of course the Council relaxes the rules for a most-favoured business. But it is certainly a location on a main ‘walkway’ for Spurs fans. Thousands walk up the High Road as part of the experience of attending a match. Along with spending on food, drink and perhaps making a bet.
  Anyone who lives in Tottenham rather than in Muswell Hill or Crouch End – where key members of the Colonial Administration have their homes – would have realised this long ago. Or maybe they do know and choose to ignore it as one more inconvenient fact in their foolish and flawed regeneration fantasy.
  Frankly, if I was the owner of a restaurant in Tottenham I’d be consulting my lawyers to see if there was a way I could sue the Council for grossly unfair competition."

Reply by Andrew on July 23, 2015 at 20:15
  "Given that it’s described as a not-for-profit company, won’t the profits be fairly minimal? I also note that we’re the only council that has an Opportunity Investment Fund. Do other councils have an equivalent? Does anyone know the split between Haringey and GLA funding?"

Reply by annee on July 23, 2015 at 20:46
  Presumably named after this?"

Reply by SarahC on July 23, 2015 at 21:56

Reply by Clive Carter on July 24, 2015 at 12:17
  The Planning Committee meeting that considered the Planning Application (including Listed Building Consent) for the Old Fire Station ("Chicken Town") was last night.
  The Council’s webcast of the meeting may be viewed here.
  The Chicken Town discussion starts at close to the beginning (00:03:45) and runs through to 01:21:30.
  Members’ questions begin at (00:43:15)."

§ "Joe Golduck" is my satirical reference to elected Haringey councillor Joe Goldberg the "cabinet member" for messing around with other people’s money Economic Development, Social Inclusion and Sustainability. Joe is responsible for spending on several dubious projects. One – at least £86,000 for a new logo and rebranding – is simply wasteful foolishness.
§ Clive Carter is a Liberal Democrat Haringey councillor and a member of the Council’s Planning Committee. Information he stated – as required by the rules of Harringay Online website.
§ Chicken Town restaurant has no connection to the poem by John Cooper Clarke.
§ My doubts about the project were amplified when I saw the artist’s impression on Haringey Council’s website. To be fair, the completed design is nothing like that lurid ugliness. Though if that was not the intention, it was crass of whoever decided to publicise the drawing.
§ The Chicken Town website gives some information and sample menus. It also explains about the subsidy for "healthier" chicken . . . "without the unhealthy downsides".
  "Here at Chicken Town we love fried chicken, but we do it a little bit differently, and a lot better. We use happy herb-fed chickens which we gently steam before flash-frying in rapeseed oil, for a delicious, healthier treat. We use fresh seasonal produce for an ever-changing, adventurous menu. You can sit down at Chicken Town, take your time and have a beer with your meal. On top of all this good stuff, we are a social enterprise looking to improve things for young people in our area.That’s why we’re here – to do it differently, to do the good stuff without the unhealthy downsides and to share it with everyone."

Junior Special
  "Chicken Town does a delicious chicken dinner, but there’s more to it than that, lots more. We’re non-profit, so when you come and eat with us we use the profits from your dinner to offer our Junior Special to under 18s in the daytime for just £2. Kids love fried chicken and for lots of them it’s a daily ritual. The standard stuff is deep fried battery chicken, packed with saturated fats, salt and lacking nutritional value.
  Our £2 Junior Special box is designed with top chefs and is tested by food scientists and nutritionists to ensure it’s within strict guidelines on RDAs of salt, sugar and fat. It contains our brilliant trademark steamed and flash-fried chicken, and sides like baked sweet potato wedges, fresh coleslaw and a side salad. For us, tackling obesity isn’t about taking choice away. It’s about improving what’s on offer and making it affordable and delicious!"

§ The Create/Chicken Town website sets out their arguments for the project. As did several newspaper articles. [Add links]
Free publicity published by Haringey Council also gave entirely one-sided arguments for the project. [Add links]
These arguments may not be untrue either in whole or in part. But what firm evidence is available?


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