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DAMESATHOME@YAHOO.CO.UK
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Sunday, 23 November 2014

LABOUR ATTACK £5 MILLION GIFT TO MICHAEL 'FOXY' VOLPE AND HIS LITTLE OPERA COMPANY

The Labour Group accuse the Council of face saving by agreeing to the outrageous demands of Michael Volpe.
The Dame is not sure they are right.....
The better educated Europhile councillors (not you Palmer) will not have missed the irony of Volpe being a fox in Italian….and he has certainly lived up to the reputation of his namesake.
He has been like a savage and wily fox in the Hornton St chicken hutch.
'FOXY' VOLPE & THE CLLRS
And the end result is that Michael ‘Foxy’ Volpe has the council over the barrel: so much so it might not just be face saving, but ridding itself of an intractable problem.

'Foxy' says that the £5million will sort out OHP until it forms a charitable trust in 2016. 
He goes on to hope our £5 million, plus loss of interest of £150k, will see it through until 2023 when it rashly believes it will be in profit.

The Labour group say this is whistling in the wind. They may be right for with backroom costs of £412,000 for staffing, marketing, depreciation and insurance a profit is a figment of Foxy's imagination.

According to Emma Dent Coad the proposal evades the question of how much OHP will pay for using prime facilities in Holland Park. 
‘It has never been clearer that the Council is using the language of austerity to justify ideological decisions. 
The self-professed ‘richest Council in the universe’ can find cash for the opera, but makes ‘tough decisions’ when it comes to vulnerable and struggling residents. Once again Kensington and Chelsea Tories have been caught squeezing the vulnerable to fund indulgence.’

This business cuts across political boundaries. There are diehard Tories disgusted by this profligacy when, as Labour’s press release states….


 “These proposals come within the context of yet another year of crushing cuts in services.The disaster of the new contract for Special Educational Needs children’s transport, which put our most vulnerable children at risk, was the result of the ‘difficult decision in the face of austerity’ to save £447,000/year – a sum almost equal to the backroom costs of running the Opera. A further £415,000 is to be sliced off the Play Services budget, making it increasingly difficult for working parents to find affordable after-school and holiday childcare. And £500,000 has already been sliced from Youth Services.”

The Dame is an apolitical old thing but she agrees with this assessment. 
She expects her taxes to be spent on imperatives first and fripperies later. 
She certainly never expected to be a stakeholder in a third rate opera setup.
This sort of nonsense plays straight into the hands of the opposition.


24 comments:

  1. Absolutely outrageous since when has this council become a Bank for the rich? First Conran and now this? Yet they speak about the hard times to be faced by everyone... and bleat "we are in it together" rubbish. They have no issue about cutting services to the vulnerable or torturing disabled children and their families the SEN transport debacle. Utterly disgusting.

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  2. Indeed, and it is very clear from the customer profile above that, despite allegedly handing out 1,000s of free tickets to the great unwashed, it is high earners who are profiting from this subsidy.

    When I was at school we had subsidised tickets to opera and operetta in the West End, and went to matinees or unpopular evenings. Going to the West End was part of the treat, and we always saw top-notch performances of well-known titles, not the bizarre and off-beat stuff Volpe prefers. Frankly it was much more likely to enthuse us for the art form than sitting in a tent.

    You have to wonder just what exactly Michael Volpe 'has' on the Council or certain Councillors, to give him such extraordinary power. The idea that the person who has dragged the opera through 18 years of financial disaster is now an ongoing part of the deal, is frankly bizarre.

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  3. This is disgusting RBKC cut funding to all voluntary organisations in the Borough This year, some will go out of business next year.

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  4. You'll doubtless be agog to read Volpe's operatic musings on this latest display of RBKC largesse in our names ('A secure future for Opera Holland Park': letters page, 24/11 Evening Standard). "those who have congested thinking about opera may argue that there is never a case to invest in a company; but if there is a belief that government and society should provide for the cultural fabric of the country, this is an imaginative and economical way to do it." Putting the dosh towards the basic needs of RBKC's non-Bollinger-swigging unfortunates should take precedence over this mimsy malarkey, Mikey, matey. This tragi-comedy ain't over until the fat Lady sings, I trust. Go Dame!

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  5. Yet another utter disgrace. Public funds used for anything EXCEPT basic public services for residents. This council is rotten to the core.

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  6. Same dreary whine 'people who don't like opera are the only ones complaining'. How very wrong you are Mr Volpe. There are plenty of opera fans on the Council as well as posting on this site, who feel quite simply that prioritising opera over basic services is wrong.

    If Councillors only supported services they 'like' that would mean by implication that they don't 'like' disabled children, young people or working families. What total, utter - and dangerous - nonsense.

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  7. The guy is a fox. Has been raiding the chicken coop for years. Problem is they are public chickens. Not on.

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    Replies
    1. Volpe is an ex travel agent who was bored to tears with his life until he saw the chance to run rings around the K&C Council and indulge his amateur passion for opera. In the last ten years he has manged to extract approximately £20 million of direct and indirect funding for his hobby from council tax.

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  8. Fly Swatter is pathetic. For years Kensington has been the home of successful entrepreneurs. Volpe is one of them. We should applaud him.

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    1. Matthew, Matthew, Volpe is about as successful as you were on The Apprentice.

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    2. Matthew....what happened to your incredibly successful and
      'entrepreneurial' Council Skills training company? Died without trace, despite being linked to filthy websites.

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  9. RBKC Labour are hypocrites. Councillor Blakeman LOVES Holland Park Opera.

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    1. 13.20, nb Mosquito's comment above. It is perfectly possible to love opera, and yet disagree with the Council spending £20m on this particular loss-making venture. There is plenty of excellent opera to be found in London which is NOT obscure titles performed in a damp tent.

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    2. There is no point in making any worthwhile points to the imbecile Palmer: he is just so dim. So dim that even even dimmer Pooter refused him his demand for a Cabinet job

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  10. For those of us who love opera and spend a great deal of our money on opera, it is a well known fact in the trade that Opera Holland Park pays its performers next to nothing compared with other minor establishments such as Garsington.

    The opera vocation is pursued by many young hopefuls and supply outstrips demand. And the quality to choose from is extraordinarily high. Outfits like OHP can exploit this situation and pay aspiring young singers slave wages - just like the slave owners used to do.

    Volpe exploits the defenseless in the most merciless fashion

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    Replies
    1. The slave wages paid by OHP is a huge downside for the business plan for any private entity who might think about replacing the K&C taxpayer subsidy. Tread with caution! Your cost base is likely to spiral out of control.

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  11. The Volpe CV makes him uniquely unemployable outside of the tax payer subsidised OHP.
    11 yrs - Travel Agant
    3 yrs - Events Manager, Kensington Council
    10years - Director OHP

    A laughing stock ........

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  12. Any ideas how much he earns?

    Anybody?

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    1. The Dame's Investigator25 November 2014 at 19:54

      The last time I checked (FOI) the salary was reported to be in the band of £60k to £65k. Low for an Opera Director but then it is only a part time job in the summer. Volpe is employed by the Library (where his wife is also a Council employee) and in the Winter he does cultural events for the Council like introducing guest speakers at events organised by the Library. A thoroughly quaint and idiosyncratic set up.

      There is no succession plan. If the guy fell under a bus there is this whole edifice of tents, staff and commitments for orchestra and performers that is not underwritten. A massive failure of governance. And it would be hard, if not impossible, to find someone to do the job description. It is a job invented by Volpe for Volpe. Its what happens when puffers like Cockell use public money to dabble in the risk business. Just like Chelsea Care.

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    2. He was once prosecuted by Hammersmith Council for dropping a fag end on the pavement...

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  13. The problem is that the Cabinet has tied itself in knots. And the knots get bigger every year. The current way forward is a series of annual "Tot Brill" style reports that are debated and then shelved by the Cabinet. Every year the recommendations get more incredible and ill thought through.

    The Dame has to keep pressing for the boil to be lanced. The longer it is left the more painful it will become.

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  14. How on earth is this allowed. When Charities make a bid to the council they are supposed to evidence good governance which obviously includes financial management. If they do not demonstrate this they do not get funding, yet this bleating, badly managed bunch have millions handed to them on a silver platter. Justify this to the African Womens Group and other Charities that work with isolated, poor and vulnerable residents who did not receive their tiny amount of funding despite their terrific work. Justify this when something terrible happens to someone vulnerable, its a matter of time, throughly disgraceful and on the watch of every Councillor in Hornton Street.

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  15. What a shambles. What a Heath Robinson set up. A hugely difficult mess to clean up. Problem is that the Cabinet (not one of them) is equipped by inclination, training or ability to tackle problems of this magnitude.

    So the mess will just continue, and get worse, as it has done for more than a decade. Bigger tent, more tents, more expenditure, free facilities gratis of K&C Council and increasing subsidy to cover shortfalls.

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    Replies
    1. It is not a "Heath Robinson" set up. It is a Merrick Cockell set up

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