The Friends of the Victoria Hall (FoVH) have welcomed a court decision on 21 September 2023 which ruled against the Charity Commission over its support for Ealing Council’s attempts to sell off the Victoria Hall which belongs to a local charity it controls.
The decision follows a three-day Charity Tribunal hearing earlier this year in February when two Ealing residents on behalf of FoVH challenged the Commission over the new rules it had agreed to for the 1893 Victoria Hall Trust that would allow the Council to dispose of the property.
In a 12-page judgement, the Tribunal ruled that it was not satisfied that the proposed rule changes adequately protect the interests of the Charity and gave the Commission and Ealing Council six months to draw up a new scheme in consultation with the two appellants.
Will French, one of the appellants said: “The Tribunal has correctly concluded that the Scheme would be a very poor outcome for the beneficiaries of the Trust, the Ealing public.”
The other appellant, Tony Miller added: “I am delighted that we’ve been proved right about this completely unsatisfactory plan for the Victoria Hall. I look forward to working with the Commission and with Ealing Council to come up with a much better outcome for the people of Ealing.”
Councillor Jon Ball, Ealing Liberal Democrat spokesperson for planning and development said: “The Liberal Democrat opposition party in Ealing congratulate Tony and Will on saving the Victoria Hall for community use. We call on Ealing Council to negotiate with them in good faith.”
Councillor Ball added: “The Mastcraft scheme is dead as we have said before and are calling on the Council to restore the building as an arts centre plus reinstated civic use. The success of the cinema in the former Acton Library is an example of saving a community asset which we must always look to doing when the Council seem hellbent on selling off our commmunity assets.”
Speaking to EALING.NEWS, Councillor Julian Gallant from Ealing Conservatives said: “We can be thankful that this judgement has found in favour of the challenge by Will and Tony, who correctly argued that the Town Hall scheme did not protect access to the Victoria Hall by the people of Ealing. The Town Hall is now shut due to safety concerns and likely to remain so for a very long time. All of this this is down to the shameful complacency and incompetence of Ealing’s Council’s Labour administration.”
An Ealing Council spokesperson said: “Having only just received the Tribunal’s findings we are now looking at these in more detail to consider our next steps.
“We acknowledge that we need to do more work to ensure that the Victoria Hall and other public rooms within the Town Hall remain accessible and affordable to the people of Ealing. We will continue to work with the Victoria Hall Trust, the Charity Commission, the Tribunal and others to make this a reality.
“Our priority at all times has been and will remain to preserve the historic, cultural, public and civic uses of this much-loved building, and to secure its future for the century to come.”