Lib Dems criticise Ealing Council over Town Hall ‘mismanagement’

Image above: Ealing Town Hall

Issue means Labour ‘unfit to govern’ Ealing, say Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats have criticised Ealing Council after a recent court case found it had mismanaged the letting of the old Town Hall.

Ealing Council let the Town Hall to Mastcraft for £2.5m on a 250 year lease, excluding local community use. The Town Hall, a grade II listed building, is currently closed due to a lack of fire safety measures which Liberal Democrats said was due to “ongoing neglect” of the Council.

The legal judgement further laid out that a “Community Use Protocol” needed to be agreed initially with Ealing Performance & Arts Centre, Ealing Voice and the Friends of Victoria Hall, as the original purposes of the Trust could not be carried out under the current the spirit of the original gift.

The ruling also said any transaction costs should be undertaken by the Council and not transferred to the community or the charity.

The cost of building Victoria Hall was raised by local public subscription of the community of Ealing when it was originally built for community use over a century ago.  Each Council Tax payer contributes to the upkeep of the Town Hall and other public buildings.

The Liberal Democrats said Labour were unfit to govern in Ealing due to this and other recent infrastructure ‘scandals’ and what they describe as the Council’s failure to engage with local communities. Recently, the demolition and rebuilding of Perceval House was cancelled due to ‘economic viability issues’ and RAAC concrete was found inside Ellen Wilkinson School for girls.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Jon Ball, Opposition Spokesperson on Planning and Housing 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.

“The Mastcraft scheme is dead as we have said before and we 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 do when Labour-run Ealing Council seem hell-bent on selling off our community assets.”

Image above: Ealing Council offices

Priority is preserve ‘historic’ building, say Ealing Council

Ealing Council issued a statement on 21 September following the result of the Tribunal, which they referred back to when approach for comment by The Chiswick Calendar:

“We are pleased that the Tribunal has accepted the principle of renovating Ealing Town Hall in partnership with a developer to secure its future.

“Ealing Town Hall is over 100 years old and is incredibly expensive to maintain. While we have preserved the building for the people of Ealing as best as we can, it is no longer safe, fit for purpose, or useable by all.

“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.”