Fairfield Halls turns to Katie Price in desperate Twitter splurge

There is growing concern for the well-being of which ever member of the Fairfield Halls staff has been placed in charge of the venue’s official Twitter feed, as they have been issuing messages with a near maniacal-zeal, claiming that the next three months will be the venue’s “final season”.

Fairfield Halls' last hope? Katie Price

Fairfield Halls’ last hope? Katie Price

The Fairfield Halls is to close temporarily in July, as it is to undergo a £30million modernisation, due to re-open in 2018.

The Fairfield Halls Twitter account is usually a fairly demure and subdued marketing tool.

But following a few initial faltering attempts yesterday evening, whoever was at the keyboard for an hour or so after lunch today managed to send more than 100 tweets, all with the same message, tagging a range of cultural venues and personalities, ranging from “glamour” model Katie Price to the Royal Albert Hall, from Peppa Pig to the Osmonds, from The Who to David Walliams, in what appeared to be a fairly desperate attempt at starting a last-gasp social media campaign to derail the refurbishment project.

The messages said: “Croydon’s iconic #FairfieldHalls closing on 15 July. Join us in our 54th and final season. Please RT” (meaning re-tweet to the celebs’ followers).

Peppa Pig: Fairfield Halls staff think that the cartoon character can help them

Peppa Pig: Fairfield Halls staff think that the cartoon character can help them

The Twitter activity has not gone down well with Croydon Council, which is funding the long-overdue multi-million-pound refit, as well as stumping up £800,000 for the Fairfield Halls management to be able to meet its obligations to its 150 staff over redundancy  arrangements.

Senior Town Hall figures have been openly expressing their frustration with the Fairfield Halls management over their failure to promote adequately this Sunday’s celebrity comedy night, featuring a stellar line-up of stand-up acts, in what is supposed to be one of the biggest set-piece fund-raising events for the Mayor of Croydon’s charities at the end of Patricia Hay-Justice’s year in the role.

It has even been suggested that the Fairfield staff have under-sold Sunday’s charity event – which features Reginald D Hunter, Kevin Day and Mark Steel – in an attempt in some way to “get back” at the council.

A small sample of the work which the Fairfield Halls marketing team was doing after lunch today

A small sample of the work which the Fairfield Halls marketing team was doing after lunch today

“There’s a lot of staff at Fairfield Halls, many of them young and passionate, and of course they are unhappy that the temporary closure of the venue means that they will be losing their jobs,” a Katharine Street source said.

“But some of the stuff coming out of there is unprofessional and petulant. That it has been allowed to happen at all demonstrates a failure of the senior management.”

Some at the council believe that carrying a large part of the responsibility for this attitude is Simon Thomsett, the £90,000 a year chief executive of Fairfield Halls.

Thomsett and his management staff failed to hold any meetings with the Halls staff for months, until early this year, thereby allowing uncertainty and resentment to fester. Some at the Labour-run council believe that the Halls management – including Thomsett, who looks set to lose his juicy salary – encouraged staff to direct their ire at the council, while offering false hope of a “phased redevelopment”, which would cost the borough’s Council Tax-payers an additional £5 million.

The text message which Kate Vennell sent to Inside Croydon last week, and which she allowed Save Fairfield supporters to believe was misquoted

The text response which Kate Vennell sent to Inside Croydon, and which she allowed Save Fairfield supporters to believe was misquoted

Last week, Thomsett played an active part in a Save The Fairfield Halls rally, which was enthusiastically backed by the local Tories.

The chair of Fairfield Halls, Kate Vennell, is now being referred to by some at the Town Hall as “Kate Venal”, after she accepted the council’s lump sum towards her organisation’s redundancy payments, but has refused to allow details of the deal to be made public.

Last year, according to Companies House records, Fairfield Halls made a modest £100,000 surplus on a £6 million turnover, only after receiving a significant subsidy from the venue owners, Croydon Council. Such financial figures, and a hefty pensions liability, suggest that the Halls will not have been able to pay redundancy had the council not stepped in.

Last week, “Venal” told Inside Croydon that “discussion about phasing is no longer a useful one”, which discomforted the Tory-led Save Fairfields campaign, whose “non-political” meeting at the Halls saw Conservative councillors – including those who had blocked significant refurbishment work since 2006 – given a platform to speak against the redevelopment plans.

“Where were these Fairfield Halls campaigners from 2006, when refurbishment plans were put on hold by the council and the Fairfield was allowed to slowly rot, suffering an agonising demise?” the Town Hall source asked.

“Vennell’s options were clear: she could accept the council’s money to pay her redundancy bill, or she could resign as chair and continue to argue over a phased redevelopment plan for which there is not enough money available. She chose the former. Perhaps she should be reminded of that?”


About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in Ashcroft Theatre and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Fairfield Halls turns to Katie Price in desperate Twitter splurge

  1. Mariko Brown says:

    The meeting last week was non-political. It isn’t about politics. It is about democratically finding the best solutions and having an open discussion surely? I’m not a conservative supporter but I do support a phased development , even more so since attending the meeting last week . I wish that Councillor Godfrey could have been at the meeting to answer concerns made by the people it will affect. Perhaps this would have helped both sides but perhaps he doesn’t care, because to care means to really listen , that’s all, in the very least.

    Like

  2. farmersboy says:

    It’s a shame that the biggest night of comedy on stage is so badly affected by the comedy off stage. Sunday’s event should be sold out twice over

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Mariko Brown says:

    I find it very strange that you would think that I might be being wilfully deceitful and I don’t believe that I have repeated that ” the meeting was non-political” over and over as if to make something go away. I have only said that because I didn’t hear any politics in the meeting, certainly not what I went for, but what I heard were factual logistics of the plans, raising many questions, and a concerned community.

    Like

  4. Mariko Brown says:

    For me, I went because I didn’t know anything about the detail of the plans and wanted reassurance that it really will be up and running in 2 yrs and survive closure. I also wanted to know that the concert hall will remain intact as it has the best acoustics around. I was glad to hear that there is no threat to this. And, I think it is wonderful that there are plans for an art gallery but this will reduce parking so I am wondering what solution there is to this. This wasn’t mentioned in the meeting but I also heard that the two wonderful pianos are being sold to help reduncy costs but this is awful as these are world class special pianos which you don’t find easily and to get the equivalent ones back will cost more. So, I feel very sad about that, but I realise this is not really a relevant point to make here. I know that it is a struggle for any arts centre to survive a full closure, so I went along because I am worried about this. I had no idea about all the things which happen behind the scenes and how much it will affect so many stratas of the community and that there such obvious flaws in the plans also felt very worrying. So, yes, I do support a phased development based on all that I have heard and no one was there to give any answers or help reassure the public / community. The point you raise, criticising ( I think ) Darrell Davidson for shouting out about high costs and then returning to use the halls anyway I don’t quite see in the same way as you do I think , not at the moment anyway, as I don’t think there is anything wrong in complaining about high costs – at least he tried , and that he came back to Fairfield Halls anyway is because there was no where else to go and he cared more about the family concerts so what else was he to do ? Perhaps this is not what you mean but I am not sure. I am not so gullible to think that some Tory candidates might use the campaign politically / or to gather up support for their next election or whatever and I am not so gullible to be personally swayed by such a thing. I don’t see that it is a problem for Tory members to be involved in the campaign but to use it politically is a different matter. However, I don’t honestly believe that the campaign itself , I.e. the founder, Andy H, is motivated politically, nor the technical manager who took us through the plans etc . This is surely what is important? And, the voices of those people in the community who had real concerns and questions which they raised. Admittedly I don’t remember Sara Bashford’s speech / name – (was she on the panel or in the audience? ) although I did manage to take notes on many things and note down the names of a few of the speakers and no, I am afraid that I did not know that she is the deputy leader of the Tories . But I also don’t remember anyone there trying to persuade us how to vote polically in the next election nor did I feel swayed that either I should not vote labour in the next election or that I should vote Tory, so if it is a political campagne it is a rather weak one so I am not sure why the fear? Yes, I agree that the Fairfield Halls should have had investment put into it in 2006 and had the Tories decided that they would and made the same proposals as the current ones, then there would have been the same campagne. Sadly it is a lot harder to campaign until something is in immediate threat thus no such campaign then. Sigh.

    Like

    • Definitely gullible then.

      Shall we bust a few of the Save Fairfield campaign myths which you have peddled, whether inadvertently or not?

      “I also heard that the two wonderful pianos are being sold to help reduncy costs but this is awful as these are world class special pianos which you don’t find easily and to get the equivalent ones back will cost more.”

      Untrue. Wonder where you must have heard that from?

      There is no need for the Fairfield Halls operating trust to sell its Steinways to meet its redundancy obligations. Our council has provided them with £800,000 out of our Council Tax to that purpose, which is a considerable amount more than is necessary for the 149 staff.

      “I went because I didn’t know anything about the detail of the plans and wanted reassurance that it really will be up and running in 2 yrs and survive closure.”

      You clearly went to the wrong place, then. This was a rally by a group of people – many vested commercial interests, stirred up by the local Tories – who have been implacably opposed to the refurbishment and have been scaremongering ever since a £30 million investment in the Halls was announced.

      They have opposed the scheme because the two-year closure to conduct the works interferes with their own businesses – whether that be in booking acts, staging kids’ concerts or producing youth music groups. None have offered any additional funding towards the £5 million-plus extra costs of the “phased” redevelopment which suits their businesses better. They presumably think that the Council Tax-payers of Croydon should foot that bill for their benefit, too.

      The only people responsible for the Halls being up and running again in 2018 is the Halls management, and according to the chair of the board, they were not even invited to attend or speak at the rally which you attended.

      “I think it is wonderful that there are plans for an art gallery but this will reduce parking so I am wondering what solution there is to this. This wasn’t mentioned in the meeting”.

      The “wonderful gallery” will be one reason why car parking space is to be reduced by two-thirds, to fewer that 400 spaces. The privately run car park in what might, one day, be the Westfield shopping mall will take up the slack, probably at extra cost as well as inconvenience to the customers of the Fairfield Halls and commuters using East Croydon Station.

      The local Tories, so set against the Fairfield development, are backers and in some ways beneficiaries of the Westfield development. They have not rallied against that development. And there’s no guarantee that that will ever open, either.

      “The point you raise, criticising ( I think ) Darrell Davidson … he came back to Fairfield Halls anyway is because there was no where else to go and he cared more about the family concerts so what else was he to do?”

      The excellent Davidson concerts are run as a business, dependent on income being greater than costs. Much has been made about how the concerts cannot continue without the Halls. The point I was making is that Davidson has walked away from the Halls in the past, when it suited his purpose, and was able to return to full houses again.

      That is entirely possible now – indeed, any enterprising promoter will be booking the Davidson shows on some sort of grand tour of London concert halls between now and 2018, and the Fairfield management should have them booked in for the first eight or 12 Saturdays upon re-opening.

      The whole notion that a venue cannot operate again after temporary closure is a deliberate deception, which you have bought wholesale.

      “However, I don’t honestly believe that the campaign itself , i.e. the founder, Andy H, is motivated politically, nor the technical manager who took us through the plans etc”

      See above, regarding the largely undeclared vested interests in this campaign. Andy Hylton is only the co-founder, since the others behind the campaign are much more closely involved, and have much more to gain, from having yet greater public subsidies to keep the Halls open at their convenience during the redevelopment.

      “Admittedly I don’t remember Sara Bashford’s speech / name – (was she on the panel or in the audience? ) although I did manage to take notes on many things and note down the names of a few of the speakers and no, I am afraid that I did not know that she is the deputy leader of the Tories.”

      Gullible isn’t even the start of it, is it?

      “I also don’t remember anyone there trying to persuade us how to vote polically in the next election.”

      And you think that is what defines whether a meeting is “political”? Are you for real?

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s