Victoria Hall Campaign Taking Charity Commission To Court

Group launches crowdfunder to pay for legal costs

Campaigners outside Victoria Hall
Campaigners outside Victoria Hall. Picture: Roger Green

A group of Ealing residents is taking the Charity Commission to court to challenge its enablement of Ealing Council’s proposal to sell off Ealing Town Hall.

Friends of Victoria Hall (FoVH) is launching an appeal at the Charity Tribunal to prevent the commission from allowing the council to change the rules of the trust which owns the hall so that it can take over its property. FoVH has started a £35,000 crowdfunder to supporters to pay the legal costs of the challenge. It has already raised half of its target.

In July 2016 Ealing Council entered into an agreement with a developer to sell off the Town Hall on a 250-year lease to turn it into a luxury hotel. The deal included the Victoria Hall which accounts for over 20% of the property and which belongs to the charitable Victoria Hall Trust, not the council. The trust was set up in 1893 to run the venue for the benefit of the local community.

“The Commission just hasn’t listened to the people of Ealing. It’s ignored hundreds of complaints from local people and over 4,000 signatures on two petitions,” said Roger Green, Chair, Friends of the Victoria Hall (FoVH).

Mr Green added, “We’re now into the sixth year of this sorry saga. If the Council had done its homework at the start it would have discovered it didn’t own the Victoria Hall and might have come up with a better idea for the Town Hall site than another hotel. It’s already spent most of the £2.5m it was being offered for the 250-year lease.”

“We can’t afford not to fight the theft of this public amenity. It’s a blatant injustice. For more than a century this space has hosted celebrations, exhibitions and performances of every kind. All of this is now under threat from Ealing Council and the Charity Commission’s craven acceptance of its cynical attempts to get its hands on the Victoria Hall.”

For details of the fundraising appeal click here.

A spokesperson for the Charity Commission said, “We are aware of the appeal by the Friends of Victoria Hall against a scheme made by the Commission under the Charites Act 2011. This matter will now go to the Charity Tribunal for consideration. In order not to prejudice the outcome of the tribunal, we are unable to comment further at this time.”

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July 22, 2021