After waiting nearly two years, a court case by Friends of Victoria Hall to challenge the Charity Commission over its support for Ealing Council’s attempts to sell off Ealing Town Hall will take place between 20 February and 22 February 2023.
It’s the latest development in a long-running campaign against Ealing Council’s six-year-long attempt to sell the Town Hall – including the Victoria Hall, which does not belong to them – to hotel developer Mastcraft.
In July 2016 Ealing Council entered into an agreement with Mastcraft to sell off the Town Hall on a 250-year lease to turn it into a luxury hotel. This is despite that over 20% of Ealing Town Hall consists of the Victoria Hall, built by public subscription and since 1893 the property of a charitable trust set up to run the venue for the benefit of the local community that had paid for it.
Campaigners highlight that Victoria Hall is the only large venue in the Borough that’s easily accessible from Acton, Ealing, Greenford, Hanwell, Northolt, Perivale, or Southall. The 2016 deal, they say, would mean it would become part of a luxury hotel, with only limited and scarcely affordable access available to local people.
In March 2021 despite fierce local opposition the Charity Commission agreed to let Ealing Council take over the property of the charitable trust.
The hearing will take place nearly two years after the appeal was lodged by two local residents Will French and Tony Miller.
Mr French, one of the two appellants against the Commission decision said: “It is very good news to hear that this matter is coming to a head at last. It’s been in nobody’s interest for this affair to have dragged on for so long, effectively denying the communities in Ealing the use of a facility they have enjoyed for over 125 years. The Hall was given to the people of Ealing as a memorial to Queen Victoria and the level of public support for FOVH’s campaign shows how much it is still valued.”
Mr French and Mr Miller launched their legal challenge in April 2021 on behalf of the Friends of the Victoria Hall (FoVH), which has raised over £70,000 to pay for legal advice.
The court hearing, in central London will be open to the public and is expected to be streamed online.