our MP and Labour Councillor, Emma Dent Coad, has taken a well-deserved swipe at the authorities in Hornton Street about the ongoing scandal of taxpayer subsidy for Opera Holland Park according to the Mail On Sunday. But the Mail also reports that she is somewhat constrained because the lead pianist in this years orchestra is none other than the son of Corbyn's Chief of Staff!
Once again, park users have to endure the annual three month construction period for that "tent" and an expanding number of temporary buildings for restaurants, bars and private entertainment.
But this year it is worse than usual. Much worse. A major £800k project was carried out over the winter to create "a paved seating area in front of Holland House". The Council notice showed a computer-generated picture of a very attractive South Terrace where park users can sit out and enjoy the view.
"A simple, elegant and quiet setting in front of the House and a high quality public amenity in an under-utilised space" the officers from the Planning Committee chirp.
Closer inspection shows that this space is no more than a new foundation for the opera tent and associated entertainment areas that will keep the feet of opera patrons dry. It includes a major new walkway (more like a procession path worthy of Elizabeth 1) which forms a grand entrance to the opera site. This major "new amenity" for public use is nothing of the sort. It is closed to the public from March to October when it is occupied exclusively by Opera Holland Park. The "simple, elegant, outdoor seating area" will only be available to Council Tax payers in the Winter months of November through to February.
I am sure it is not customary for the Dame and her grand friends to take outdoor tea and picnics at this time of the year!
At a time when insurance for Council houses has increased by 85%, thanks to the Grenfell Tower fire; when public services are being cut back and when huge increases in Council Tax have fallen through our letter box, why is the Council blowing ANOTHER £1 million on this opera?
Volpe, a failed Travel Agent, joined the Council staff twenty years ago as an "Events Manager". He persuaded his socially ambitious friend, the disgraced ex-Leader Cllr Cockell, into using Council tax to fund the only civic opera in the UK. Volpe set himself up as Holland Park Opera Director and Cockell arranged for him to be employed by the Library for food and rations. They then spent more than £10 million of council tax on this frippery at a time of great financial stress.
After the Dame led a huge residents' objection to this misuse of funds Volpe was forced to take the Opera private and residents were promised that the subsidies would stop.
But it seems that Volpe still has clout in Hornton Street.
Cllr Campbell’s friends (the vulgar rich residents of Kensington and Chelsea) should go instead to Covent Garden or the English National Opera. Both of them a short tube ride away. With better productions and a cheaper price.
(Mr) Joe Verdi