Victoria Hall Friends in final fundraising for Council court battle

By Roger Green

14th Feb 2023 | Local News

Local residents have launched a final fundraising push to pay the cost of the legal action they're taking to stop the sale of publicly-owned Victoria Hall.

Donations are being accepted here:

A court hearing will take place next week, nearly two years after an appeal was lodged by Will French and Tony Miller representing the Friends of the Victoria Hall to challenge the Charity Commission over its support for Ealing Council's attempts to sell off the Victoria Hall as part of Ealing Town Hall.

Ninety people have already signed up to watch the court battle online.

The Victoria Hall is the only large indoor venue in Ealing that's easily accessible from all parts of a London Borough with a population the size of a small country.

Will said: "The Hall was a gift to us from the town's first residents. In patriotic mood like the one that swept the country last year on the death of our Queen, they dug deep in their pockets to build a permanent Memorial to Queen Victoria, one that future citizens could enjoy for years to come."

Tony added: "Our straightforward factual case against the scheme to sell the Victoria Hall, property of a charitable trust, is that the Council has not properly managed the Hall and there should now be a different, independent trustee. But in the two years since we launched our appeal the Council has spent a considerable amount of the trust's money on building a complex legal defence.

"That's why we recently have had to brief a barrister to represent us at the Tribunal so that the community gets Victoria Hall run as intended by the original donors."

Will and Tony are supported by the Friends of the Victoria Hall (FoVH) which this week has launched a new fundraising campaign.

Will French said: "We need the Hall now as much as we ever did. Don't let them sell off Ealing's greatest asset. Spare us what you can and help us keep the Victoria Hall for everyone in Ealing."

The Victoria Hall is a public hall belonging to the west London community of Ealing, opened for their recreational use in 1888. Ealing is a large multicultural Borough in west London whose population of 344,000 is that of a small country. The Victoria Hall and the Prince's Hall below it provide the only large venue that's easy for everyone to get to, whether they live in Acton, Ealing, Greenford, Hanwell, Northolt, Perivale or Southall.

Since 1888 it's been at the centre of community life around Ealing, hosting art exhibitions, balls, discos, blood donation drives, vaccination campaigns, ballroom, ballet, swing and jive dance classes, amateur dramatics, graduation ceremonies, examinations, classical, rock, folk, jazz, roots and ethnic music concerts, weddings, exhibitions, multicultural celebrations such as Durga Puja, Divali and Christmas, film societies, NHS cardiac rehabilitation and anti-smoking classes, public enquiries, inquests, election hustings, election counts, protest meetings and more.

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. However they included in the deal the Victoria Hall, built by public subscription adjacent to the Town Hall 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. In March 2021 despite fierce local opposition and evidence that a charitable trust owned it, the Charity Commission agreed to let Ealing Council take over the property of the trust so that it could be included in the Town Hall sale. Will French and Tony Miller launched their legal challenge to the Charity Commission in April 2021 on behalf of the Friends of the Victoria Hall (FoVH) as they do not believe that this is in the interests of the community.


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