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DAMESATHOME@YAHOO.CO.UK
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Saturday, 17 November 2012

TOT BRILL SCREWS UP AGAIN


So the grand plans for Holland Park Opera vaunted by the ludicrous £152,000/year Tot Brill have come to naught…. as we all predicted.
Last March Brill told the Council that the £1 million of council tax spent on HPO would be spun off to the private sector so ending this haemorrhaging of our money. 

TOT BRILL...HPO TOTTERING INTO FISCAL ABYSS
Not daring to confront Pooter the Cabinet approved the plans adding further to the £10 million subsidies already paid. 
This despite residents warning  there was no hope of finding a sucker to take on an operatic millstone.

This Cabinet is clueless about business...In October, Tot was ordered to report back to the Cabinet with detailed implementation agreements for privatisation of the Opera. 
Officers were ordered to spend the whole summer on this top priority task. Even hapless "Rock" Fielding-Mellen was silenced when he suggested a mid term report. 
‘The officers could not be deflected from their duty for a single moment to report on progress’ was how Rock was put in his place.

There has been no progress: Holland Park Opera is unwanted. 
But why would anyone want it: particularly when it means taking on overpaid director, Michael ‘Vulpine’ Volpe. So, Tot Brill, after her expensive and embarrassing fiasco of the Exhibition Road Festival in August has yet again let down the Council and residents. The Key Decision is to be removed from the Forward Plan and the Council is preparing to continue to underwrite Nick Paget-Brown's £1m/year vanity project ad infinitum while cuts hit hard, in every direction. Cockell has decided that council tax payers will continue to fund the bill and he will have to continue as Leader of K&C "in order to guarantee the future of the Opera"! Presumably, again at the behest of the PM...






30 comments:

  1. Its a train smash. The idiots will finally wake up to the fact that Holland Park Opera is a monster that has been created out of vanity driven egos. Its happened before. Concorde is a good example.

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  2. For many years successful businessmen who are also residents of Kensington and Chelsea have counseled Cllr Cockell against the folly of the HPO creation. They were ignored, rebuffed and then ridiculed. There is a long paper trail. At some stage it will become impossible, even for the blind, to continue to deny that radical action is essential

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  3. Retired Chief Executive17 November 2012 at 17:01

    The risk business, profit and loss, and choosing winners is not the forte of Government. Conservatives found this out many years ago and Mrs Thatcher was ruthless with those who pretended otherwise. In Kensington and Chelsea we have a lengthening list of business disasters (including Chelsea Care, The Wedge, and Holland Park Opera) that have been easily funded by the bottomless pit of Council Tax and without any penalty for failure. No business undertaking in history ever survived on this basis

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    1. Totally agree, the first person to go should be Sir Merrick and then followed by dare I say quite a few others. These people who are only interested in their self glorification should remember that this is supposed to be a council. An efficient Council's role is to deliver core services efficiently and cost effectively. However, RBK&C seems to have ideas well above it's station and expertise; the council enjoys dabbling in glam/show business with utterly disastrous consequences to the tax payer (please see Exhibition Road (Tot Brill, again)!

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  4. The chattering classes can continue to chatter. But survival is the name of the game. A block busting programme is already signed and contracted for the 2013 season of Holland Park Opera. So go smoke something you kill joys

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  5. In the Royal Borough we know where our priorities lie

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    1. You sure do....frittering away my hard earned money!

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  6. You love the opera? Pay for it yourself....don't expect me too. And if its such a 'blockbusting programme' how come you lose so much money? Seems like you have been smoking too much of something!

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  7. Public Policy Statement17 November 2012 at 17:08

    There are two world class operas within a 10 minute bus ride of Holland Park Opera. And the seats are cheaper. But there are no free seats for Councillors of K&C

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  8. Nothing will change until Cockell moves on. Kensington and Chelsea desperately needs a new broom with a very big broom

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  9. God save us from these puffed up Councillors

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  10. What do Hammersmith and Westminster Tories think of this?

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  11. Quotes from the March 2012 Cabinet Meeting to discuss the future of HPO and the £1 million annual council tax subsidy

    Cllr Paget-Brown
    "We are here to discuss the future of the Great Glory of London, Holland Park Opera"

    Cllr Lightfoot
    "This is about how we choose to allocate cash"

    Chief Exec Elect of Privatised HPO
    ""We will hire a fundraiser"

    Cllr Lightfoot and inventor of Chelsea Care (Cllr Buxton)
    They both rubbished the Scrutiny Committee Report from Cllr Gardiner warning of the risk of another Chelsea Care. Cllr Gardiner was too frightened to attend the meeting

    Tot Brill (Dotty Totty)
    "We are laying on affordable opera"

    Whisper overheard from Opera lover Pooter to ex travel agent and HPO Director Mike Volpe
    "Mike, just let me know how much you need. And this is between us. OK?"

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    1. I am sick to death of these idiots, they should pay with their own money for the follies they create. Any organisation that has anything to do with this council has to demonstrate that they have robust financial procedures and if not this is the councils reasons for not funding them. How is this different for HPO A disgraceful bunch of idiots run this council and I sincerely hope that at the next election they are voted out. Dear Dame I hope you are creating a chronology of their misuse of funds, ignoring of residents and downright mismanagement.

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  12. The problem is that Pooter knows SFA about opera or high art...he is quite an ill educated philistine, but he thinks supporting the opera gives him a veneer of sophistication!

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  13. In addition to free tickets to Holland Park Opera for Councillors, K&C gives free tickets to Seniors and school children in the Borough. This is "affordable opera". The allocations are always oversubscribed but the £1 million annual subsidy divides into £1,000 per "free ticket". For this cost the punters of Kensington and Chelsea could afford the best seats at Covent Garden, dinner and champagne at the Ritz, a stretch limo there and back plus waiting at the Ritz, and a hefty donation to Save The Children that would be left over. This is Tory style income redistribution.

    Would someone, somewhere, please wake up and do their sums?

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    Replies
    1. Phew. Its time for Hammersmith and Westminster to start taking an interest in this type of splurging. Its not what Conservatives are supposed to do.

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  14. No more musical chairs please. Stop the rot

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  15. This is all terribly disturbing. I am not sure where I stand

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    Replies
    1. Your wife got a free ticket last year, mate

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  16. Lord Brompton-Ward17 November 2012 at 23:34

    Pooter hands out tickets to his mates, mate!

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  17. Pass the sick bag, Dame

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  18. Perhaps the Council should take advice from that well known business entrepreneur Cllr Matthew Palmer. He could give a seminar on the subject via his business CouncilSkills.com. We really should make use of our lucal talent.

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  19. Please keep a chronology of events and include councillors names alongside them for the next election.

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  20. Person Familiar With The Situation18 November 2012 at 16:31

    The Dame needs to keep a close eye on the saga of Holland Park Opera. The Leader announced in a very public way that the Council is no longer prepared to subsidise the opera and the Cabinet authorised the negotaition of a privatisation proposal that has come to nothing. Having taken a public position, the Cabinet is duty bound to do something now that this initiative has failed.

    An alternative view of the situation is that the Leader never had any intention of giving up control of his opera. He was forced to act in response to considerable pressure from residents (including the Dame) to stop the subsidy. He had to do something. So he set up an initiative which has failed. In the grand tradition of politics he can now say "I tried and there is no alternative. We will continue as before". This is "Yes Minister" at its most transparent

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  21. Residents and council tax payers should remember that in the last ten years subsidy for the opera has climbed relentlessly from £100k per year to £1 million per year and there is no reason to expect that this trend will reduce. Actual subsidy is approximately twice the declared subsidy when the value of back office support from the council, free erection dismantling and storage of the canopy and capital charges are factored in.

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  22. Retired Chief Executive18 November 2012 at 16:49

    The only way to resolve the situation (assuming that the Council does not continue on the subsidy path) is to announce the irrevocable end to subsidy of the opera and thereby test the market. If there is a demand then a rich opera lover will come forward and take on the obligation. The recession has had no impact on the very wealthy who are now even more wealthy than before. Basement excavations in the Borough is a litmus test of this. At the same time the council has a moral obligation to discretely approach other opera houses like the Royal Opera to see if they would be prepared to take on the HPO. This would be a task of extreme delicacy and diplomacy. But established houses have the potential to deliver substantial back office synergies, marketing clout and artistic input.

    The privatisation initiative was doomed to failure before it even started. A hellish mix of public and private conflicts (eg planning guidelines requiring the dismantling of the canopy for aesthetic reasons so as not to spoil the Park), a Board of Directors comprising naive "Friends" and the Albert Hall administrator (local worthies seeking glory, in the immortal words of Michael Gove) and horse trading over how much of "free service" provided in the past by the Council would be charged for. I have never known this mix to give birth to a business proposition

    The key factor is purpose. The council must be prepared to shut up shop if alternative finance does not come forward. This is the risk business. No fudge with the game of "give it a go but the Council is the bank of last resort" - any belief that this is the case and not a penny will be forthcoming

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    1. Now is the right time to announce the end of subsidy. The 2013 season is in the bag and this gives the management and the new owner time to plan and contract the 2014 season. If this is not carried out in a timely fashion the Opera will lose its existing commercial sponsorship which is running at ca £500k per year.

      In fact this is the ONLY time to do it unless the intention is continue with subsidy. The Cabinet needs to accept that this is not another "dither moment". And the Dame is watching and will continue to shine a light on the comic tragedy.

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    2. Surely you mean incompetent tragedy?

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  23. On 5 November I was walking down Philimore Gardens and smelt a familiar smell of yesteryear. Strange, I thought, we aren't allowed to burn leaves since the Clean Air Act.

    Now I realise what it was; Nick 'Marie Antoinette' Paget-Brown was burning £1m of Council Taxpayers' crinklies.

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