The CEPAC campaign
Charity Commission blocks Council sale
The 'sell-off' of Ealing Town Hall has been blocked after the Charity Commission rejected Ealing Council’s application to include the assets of the charitable Trust that owns Victoria Hall.
The Council needed the go-ahead so that the Trust property could be sold with the rest of the Town Hall to boutique hotel developer Mastcraft.
The Victoria Hall was built next to Ealing Town Hall with money raised through a Victorian crowdfunding campaign. It’s owned by a charitable Trust which was set up in 1893 to provide a venue for community use for “Meetings, Entertainments, Balls, Bazaars, and other Gatherings whether Social or Political".
In his ruling, the Commission Reviewer says “I cannot see that any consideration has been given as to whether the proposals are the best that can be obtained by the Charity."
He goes on to say that that the Council Scheme proposed by the Council for the future of the charity could only go ahead subject to a number of conditions. These include
1. The charity’s property has to be properly identified, which has not yet been done;
2. The benefits provided by the charity to the public would have to be re-provided, in the building or elsewhere;
3. Clarifying what share of the proceeds of the sale to Mastcraft would benefit the charity;
4. Making sure that the hotel operator was obliged to re-provide the current facilities, and how this would be monitored and enforced;
5. Providing procedures to manage any conflicts of interest between the charity and the Council.
The Reviewer concludes that if the Council wishes to proceed it would need to present a revised case “that demonstrates that the proposals now amount to a more suitable and effective use for the charity’s property.”
Together with FoVH, CEPAC will study the decision and may seek legal advice.. We may well have to raise more money to fund this.
The full report can be seen here.