As campaigners believe new Charity Commission proposal clears way for Town Hall sale
Campaigners are urging Ealing residents to reject a scheme proposed by the Charity Commission which they believe could allow the Council to 'sell off' Victoria Hall as part of its Town Hall deal with a hotel operator.
The Victoria Hall was built next to Ealing Town Hall with money raised through a Victorian crowdfunding campaign. It's owned by a charitable Trust, set up in 1893 to run the hall for the the benefit of local people. Over the years it has hosted meetings, entertainments and exhibitions.
However, for nearly two years the Council has been seeking to persuade the Charity Commission to allow it to amend the Trust rules so that the Victoria Hall can be included in a £2.5m sell-off of the Town Hall site.
The Commission has now published the draft of a Scheme which campaigners believe would clear the way for this to happen, subject to the result of a public consultation - due to end on 27 December 2019.
Roger Green, chair of The Friends of the Victoria Hall (FoVH), said: “Even a cursory look at the Charity Commission proposal shows that this would be a very poor deal indeed for Ealing residents. They’d likely lose affordable access to facilities that have been serving the community for 126 years.
“The prospect of losing the Borough’s largest indoor community space to a private company is bad enough, but the terms under which it would happen are just too soft. Incredibly, the Council seems to be prepared to let the whole of the Town Hall and Victoria Hall go for less than the price of a three-bedroom flat in Dickens Yard. That can’t be right.”
A FoVH team is going through the fine detail of the Charity Commission’s draft Victoria Hall Trust Scheme in order to lodge detailed objections. FoVH has requested an extension to the consultation period which it believes is absurdly short in the run-up to the Christmas break.
An Ealing council spokesperson said: “The council is supporting the Charity Commission with publicising their proposed scheme for the Victoria Hall and Victoria Hall Trust and encourages interested parties to have their say on these proposals.
“Under the Charity Commission’s proposed scheme, Ealing Council will retain freehold ownership of the whole of the Town Hall and it will also continue to act as a trustee for the Victoria Hall Trust to ensure the Victoria Hall and Queen’s Hall, as well as other future rooms in the building will be preserved for community use and charitable purposes.
“The operation will be governed by a Community Use Protocol which requires the establishment of a forum that will include community representation to monitor and review the operation of the community use provisions. This protocol is part of the lease agreement with Mastcraft and has been included within the planning permission. It will apply for the full 250-year lease term, even if Mastcraft changes the hotel premises to be used for a different purpose.
“Ealing Town Hall is an important building and the council wants it to be retained for the use of the community and future generations. Once refurbished the town hall will continue to deliver a civic function with offices for councillors, rooms for council meetings, marriage, citizenship ceremonies and community hire.”
You can read about the 140-year history of the Victoria Hall here.
Sign up for the Friends of Victoria Hall email news
2nd December 2019