Forum Topic

Thanks very much for raising this. As one of the named appellants against the previous ‘scheme’ I’m sorry if we’ve not kept everyone right up to date. My excuse is that it has dragged on for so long and I try not to let it take over my life entirely. In short, if you’ve not been following the saga, in 2016 the Council agreed to sell the whole Town Hall complex to hotel developers Mastcraft, without having checked whether it was theirs to sell. To their surprise they found the Victoria Hall and the Prince’s Hall below are not theirs. They belong to a charity of which the Council is just the trustee.  The buildings were paid for from a crowd funding campaign to celebrate Queen Victoria, on land donated by the Council, which they said was surplus to their requirements.There have been, and remain, strong objections to the loss of this community asset which has served the people of Ealing so well.  The objections were led by Friends of the Victoria Hall who tried repeatedly but in vain to discuss the situation both with the Council and the Charity Commission, aiming to find a better arrangement than the one the Council signed. At every stage they were rebuffed. In September 2023 the First-tier tribunal ruled that the ‘scheme’ drawn up by the Charity Commission to approve the deal was not in the best interests of the Charity and they instructed the Commission to revise it.  As Phil rightly reckons, they produced a new scheme published at https://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Details.aspx?PDFName=102398. Tony Miller and I (the named appellants against the previous scheme) and FoVH as a whole have objected to this new scheme as we remain unhappy with it.The Commission must now decide what to do next. We don’t know how long this will take, but if they approve this new scheme, we have a right to appeal against it. Meanwhile the Victoria and Prince’s Halls are shut down for reasons which, as Arthur notes, are totally unclear. To all intents and purposes, the Victoria Hall Trust has ceased to operate and this means the people of Ealing no longer have access to facilities they have enjoyed for the previous 130 years. It’s in no one’s interests for this state of affairs to keep dragging, on but I’m sure there’s a way out of this impasse if only the Council and its trustees would work with us to find one.  Lastly, can I thank everyone for their very generous support for us in pursuing this. This has been quite overwhelming and it demonstrates that selling the Victoria Hall is simply wrong. 

Will French ● 42d