Crunch Meeting to Be Held Tonight on Victoria Hall

Virtual meeting of council committee to consider response to Charity Commission

Victoria Hall. Picture: Friends of Victoria Hall

A crucial meeting to decide the future of Victoria Hall is to be held this Thursday evening (30 July).

At 6pm , Ealing Council’s General Purposes Committee (GPC) will be meeting virtually online.

The main item on the agenda is for the GPC to further consider its response to the Charity Commission review of the proposed new ‘scheme’ for the Victoria Hall Trust. The Friends of Victoria Hall say this proposal would result in the people of Ealing losing ownership of the Hall with community groups left with only restricted access to it at reasonable prices.

The Charity Commission wrote in a report this April that the current arrangements for trustees was “inherently conflicted”. It advised, “There needs to be an arrangement whereby there are independent co-optees to form a quorum.”

Ealing Council have shifted ground in two areas compared to their position outlined at a previous meeting on 29 June in which they effectively rejected the Commissions recommendations. They are proposing the introduction of a process that is claimed would manage potential conflicts of interest between the Council, hotel operator, and Charity; and secondly, that the working group to review the operation of the CUP ‘may’ co-opt an independent member. However, any such member would not be allowed a vote.

The agenda and papers which include a revised Community Use Protocol (pages 39-54) and a draft letter to the Charity Commission (pages 33-35) can be downloaded here.

Labour Councillors on Ealing Council rejected a motion by the Conservative group welcoming the Charity Commission's report at a council meeting on 21 July.

Cllr Seema Kumar, who represents Ealing Broadway ward said, "Labour claims that Ealing Town Hall is not being sold, as the Council will be retaining the Freehold interest of the whole property. The Charity Commission disagrees and noted in their findings that 'a 250-year lease is realistically a permanent disposition of the property' proving the sage saying if it quacks, it’s a duck.

"Ealing Labour outright rejection of the ruling of the Charity Commission, especially the need for independent trustees shows that they believe they are a law unto themselves."

Roger Green, Chair of Friends of the Victoria Hall, said, “In our view, the Council officers’ recommendations to the GPC still do not take seriously the main Charity Commission recommendations and it is hard to see how the Commission can accept them. “

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July 30, 2020