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Sunday, 27 May 2018


Dear Dame, 
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!
Summer is here and once again our beloved Holland Park is a mess thanks to Michael Volpe and his Opera. 
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.

Yours ever,
(Mr) Joe Verdi


  1. At a time of cutbacks our money is being splurged on some third rate opera company....and we taxpayers now fund Corbyn's friends and family!

    1. The Dames Investigator28 May 2018 at 10:58

      Financial advisor "Investec" is the major sponsor of the Opera. They use the event to wine and dine customers and many of the "private" facilities on site are reserved for their high end investors. Free seats, champagne and caviar and smoked slamon. The word is out that dizzy is a client. Hard to believe this act of political naivety

  2. Cllr Dent Coad has a long history of opposing the scandalous Council Tax subsidy of Opera Holland Park. Our only Councillor who has consistently campaigned against this absurdity.

    It is unacceptable that subsidy continues on this colossal scale and is now concealed by outright lies to residents. Spending money under the subterfuge of park improvements when the truth is that this expenditure is a new foundation platform for the opera.

  3. This third rate OPERA venue has been my and my family concern for many years.. After all, we live here, just a stone's throw - near the waterfall. I am truly astonished how all the ticket buying public can endure such ghastly din. Any decent Opera goer will confirm my grading of this unprecedented waste of public money, when services for the less privileged are cut all the time. WOuld by any chance the Director of Adult Social Care be a vervent supported of the 'Opera'?

    1. Quite so. What a pretentious and nasty lot these people are. Obviously, can't tell proper 'Opera' from the Holland Park crap- and that's what it is: third rate, at that. Cut this ludicrous subsidy.

  4. Kensington Resident28 May 2018 at 10:51

    EDC's rehabilitation is underway with residents of the Royal Borough. Her wafer then election majority of 20 needs it. The good lady should spend more time attacking waste and profligacy in Hornton Street and less time attacking the Royals.

    1. There is no greater example of waste and profligacy than the Royals!

  5. Any RBKC funding for local community activities new venues for those from the lower/middle income band? NOT A CHANCE!

    1. Cllr Campbell, the Leader of K&C, is now emerging in her true colours. A closet supporter of her Glynbourne in the Park. The dreadful woman ia an upmarket Cockell, no less!

    2. Off with her head!

  6. This was what the Planning Cte Approved28 May 2018 at 15:30


  7. This is what we got.....28 May 2018 at 15:32;aggregationId=101&albumid=101&filter=7&ff=113264663

  8. DSCN7467.jpeg

  9. It is incredible that Officers have the Gaul to publish a computer generated image of the new £800k terrace in Holland Park that is intended to mislead Council Tax payers about what they have paid for. And then promptly use the whole charade as a foundation for the Opera tent during the WHOLE summer.

    But hard pressed tax payers can use their terrace in the depths of winter. To sit out and enjoy bare trees and frozen turf.

    1. Labour should organise a censor motion in the Chamber and ask questions of Officers who were brazen enough to print downright lies about a "simple, elegant and quiet setting" in front of Holland House. Opera???

    2. "High quality amenity in under utilised space"

      Quite so.

    3. Friend of Holland Park28 May 2018 at 21:13

      The opera or the Terrace?

  10. What is it with these Tories? Why are so fixated with continued spending and splurging on this wretched opera?

    1. Fly On The Wall28 May 2018 at 21:05

      Residents and Council Tax payers should expect an increase in subsidy spending to Holland Park Opera. Financial discipline has been extinguished in the Borough. The Leader, dizzy lizzy Campbell (whose cheque book and credit cards were long ago confiscated by her husband) pronounced grandly that Holland Park School cost "nothing" when she got carried away after an economic briefing by Officers. The Cabinet Member for Finance, Cllr Weale, could not even hold on to her job at Lloyds of London (where the thick end of the City resides). She who practices the art of "listening but not hearing" is the last person who should be looking after our money. But poor dizzy is enthralled by Mary's ancestry and is expecting to move up from her Laura Ashley circle.

  11. Did I get this right? The Council Planning Committee approves a £1 million terrace facility for users of Holland Park in front of the original Holland House and then it turns out that this is for the exclusive use of the Opera tent installation?

    Who was responsible for this proposal? Who was responsible for all the publicity and photos that intentionally misleads?

    We need to know.

    1. How optimistic, dear Resident. This is unlikely to happen. Why should the Borough taxpayers be made aware? RBKC always did, do and will continue doing as the Tory clique feels fit and screw those who pay their way.

    2. Time for Labour to ask some questions in the Council Chamber

  12. Volpe has no scruples he's tweeting today about Grenfell inquiry but does not understand that money used at OHP could have been used to save those at the tower for sprinklers.

  13. Why did Labour allow this proposal to be approved by the Planning Committee.

  14. This plan has been LONG in the making and the Opera’s use of the site has always been at the heart of it..,..see details here of a Key Decision in 2015 and click on the link and then click on the further link to read the “Report”.

    Decision Title: Award of contract for design services at Holland Park
    Decision Number: 04636/15/T/AB
    Decision Rating: ♦♦♦
    Decision Detail: To award a contract to develop design options in relation to support structures for Opera Holland Park, re-alignmentof the service road to the Terrace, and improvements to toilets and changing rooms.
    Contact Officers: Ian McNicol
    Decision Makers: Cllr Tim Ahern
    Decision Type: Part AB , by virtue of category
    3 Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).
    Implementation date: Not before 17 November 2015
    Current Status: Decision Proposed
    Decision Result: To award the contract for design services to tenderer A as set out in the report
    Consultation Details: None
    Referral Committees: Public Realm Scrutiny Committee
    Report available: Yes‡
    Topic Keywords: Design & Conservation, Leisure and the Arts
    '28 Day' Notice Period: From 09 September 2015, 59 Calendar Days to date.

    Click on the link below for full details of this Key Decision

    1. Calling EDC to Action30 May 2018 at 07:15

      This is absolutely SHOCKING. It is quite clearly a major expenditure of Council Tax on facilities for Opera Holland Park AFTER the decision was taken by the Council to stop spending council tax on this frippery.

      And to make matters worse, Officers then post photos all over the place about the wonderful new sitting out terrace for park users which they describe as "a high quality public amenity".

      Lies, lies and deception. Who do these reptiles think we are?

      Cllr Dent Coad, please shake the bones and create an earthquake. No one else has the balls to make a fuss.

  15. Clear The Swamp30 May 2018 at 07:35

    Now the truth is out. The secret report leaked by 21.52 shows that this "elegant terrace for public use" is a £2.7m expenditure of Council Tax - not £1m as reported by the Dame.

    In spite of computer generated images of a terrace area used by park visitors in the summer, widely displayed by Officers in the Park, the Planning Committee approval report states:

    "backstage support facilities for catering and reception"

    "picnic deck, a suitable ambience to provide entertainment for opera patrons"

    "a smart entertainment area for major sponsors and their guests"

    Hornton Street is peddling deception on an industrial scale. Cllr Campbell, the Leader, is facilitating all of this.


    1. Staggering. Dishonesty on a stratospheric scale. Absolutely staggering.

  16. The Dames Investigator30 May 2018 at 08:28

    Readers need to be clear about what has happened. £2.7m of Council Tax has been spent on opera facilities to enable Investec, a City Wealth Management company, to entertain their clients in style.

    Cllr Campbell and her Cabinet are not fit and proper persons to collect and spend our Council Tax

    The Grenfell Action Group needs to bring these matters to the attention of the Inquiry.

    Note For Editors
    The Council approval report shows:
    £1.295m for Opera Structures
    £1.350m for Holland House Terrace,%20environmental%20health%20and%20leisure%20(may%202013)/kd04636r.pdf

  17. At least there was no personal gain. In Casablanca the money would have been diverted to the personal Swiss bank account of the Leader.

    1. This is much more sophisticated corruption. In the tradition of Cllr Weale's "we agreed to listen but not to hear". The woman is Cabinet Member for Finance.

      How many times have residents told the Council to stop spending Council Tax on Holland Park Opera? And how many times has the Council replied "we will". And they even took Council decisions to do so. Decisions taken in public.

      But the devious Councillors and Officers, who consider themselves above mere residents and answerable to themselves only, dream up sophisticated and secret ways to continue splurging Council Tax on Holland Park opera. Another £2.7m this time around. A cool £2.7m. Including the termination settlement, total subsidy to date is more than £20m of hard earned tax.

      But the Dame has found them out. Again. Long live the Dame.

  18. Tax payers are investing in facilities to enable Investec to indulge in profit making commercial activities of Holland Park Opera. Why is the Council not charging rent for these facilities? And business rates for these facilities?

  19. Cllr Lady Faulks is Cabinet Member for Economic Development. Lizzy pushed out her boat with the dizzy words:

    "The brief will focus on connecting the opportunities created by the borough’s people, status, and location into tangible and positive outcomes for local residents."

    Quite so. Faulks needs to check out the whole Opera operation and start to recover some Council tax in the form of rent and rates. Some wealthy patrons and sponsors whose pips need to be squeezed.

  20. One might also ask if the Opera pay market rent / business rates for their offices with the council’s Pembroke Road complex.

    1. The Dames Investigator30 May 2018 at 17:42

      13.24, please tell us more about the Pembroke Road Offices. Does the Opera have accommodation there? And what for?

    2. There is no secret, just look at their web site. The opera need offices all year round to pan and execuite their programme. The offices are located at the council’s offices at Pembroke Road and consist of accommodation for perhaps a maximum of twenty or thirty people.

    3. The Dames Investigator5 June 2018 at 09:29

      Thank you 20.58. I am on to it.


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