Crowdfunder Launched To Stop 'Sell-off' of Victoria Hall

Friends group want the scheme approved by Charity Commission scrapped

Victoria Hall at night. Picture: Friends of Victoria Hall


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Campaigners are aiming to raise £20,000 to support a legal challenge to stop the sell-off of Ealing's Victoria Hall.

The Friends of Victoria Hall group wants to overturn the scheme approved by the Charity Commission on how to govern the Victoria Hall Trust, which campaigners say will allow the largest public space in central Ealing to be “lost to the community”.

The deal between Ealing Council and hotel developer Mastcraft to redevelop Ealing Town Hall has been in the pipeline since 2016, but has been blocked since the discovery the deal would involve selling off assets – some of which did not belong to the council.

Victoria Hall – located next to the town hall – was built from public donations and belongs to Victoria Hall Trust, set up in 1893.

The Charity Commission intervened in April 2020, warning the council stronger protections for the trust must be put in place for the deal in leasing the hall out to go ahead.

But the government watchdog published an updated arrangement between MastCraft and Ealing Council to allow the move to happen in March, which is still opposed by residents.

Roger Green, chair of the Friends of the Victoria Hall said: “This was not an easy decision. A suitably robust legal challenge is going to cost a significant amount of money.

“We decided to proceed because of the strength of feeling about how badly Ealing Council and the Charity Commission have let down the people of the borough.”

He added,“We already have firm pledges of financial support from many of our supporters but we need at least £20,000 more so we've relaunched our legal fees appeal on CrowdJustice.”

Among the “many shortcomings” of the Charity Commission's proposal, The Friends of Victoria Hall has flagged the failure to deal with a conflict of interest between the council and the Victoria Hall Trust as a key concern (some councillors are also trustees).

Other issues include claims that the full extent of the Trust's property has not been “properly identified” which will result in it being short-changed in the MastCraft deal, and there will be a “demonstrable major loss” of the amenity to residents in the borough through more limits on when they can use the hall.

To view the crowdfunder click here.

Anahita Hossein-Pour - Local Democracy Reporter

April 27, 2021

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