Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust branded “Marxist” by angry resident

A disenchanted group of residents says the trust which oversees the conservation of Hampstead Garden Suburb must reform ‘Marxist’ practices which threaten its democratic integrity.

Headed up by Andrew Botterill, the group is seeking to remove what it claims is a ‘gagging order’ from the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust’s charter. The article the group takes issue with stops residents raising matters at the trust meetings without the Trust council’s prior approval.

The conservation body has a legal right to charge homeowners a management fee which is used to maintain the Suburb’s unique character.

Mr Botterill, who says that despite the conflict he is a big supporter of the trust, has submitted a number of resolutions to be considered. He also wants to set up an independent committee to oversee spending.

The 67-year-old retired businessman from North Square said: “The way things are done is highly dangerous for the continuation of the trust and the Suburb. Simply, if you just imagine a situation where the trust has done something contentious, then there are very few means for any public discussion.

“No right-minded person would object to paying the trust expenses, provided these expenses are reasonable and the freeholders have some say in it.

“It’s about trying to make the trust more transparent and if it’s not able to reform itself and make itself more accountable then there’s a danger that people will challenge the management charges and that would be a huge pity for the whole Suburb. This sort of thing could be described as Marxist or Communist, it’s not right.”

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Mr Botterill, who has worked as a volunteer for the trust in the past, raised the issue at a residents’ association meeting last week. The RA agreed to submit the proposals, signed by 11 other residents, to the conservation organisation.

Chairman of the Trust, Angus Walker, said he had no objection to the issues being discussed and could not recall the trust ever blocking motions in the past.

He said: “If people want to submit things to be changed, they’ve a right to do that. I think it’s good that people take an interest and raise these concerns. Anybody is free to make any objection.”

He added: “I’m just a boy scout trying to run a tea party.”