Don’t call us about dead foxes or olive oil, says Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust

Contrary to popular belief, the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust cannot divert flight paths from Heathrow or find a remedy for broken bottles of olive oil outside WH Smith.

They do not even collect dead foxes or unwanted sewing machines.

But these and other “bizarre” requests have been made by Hampstead Garden Suburb residents over the last five years and are to be immortalised in a new ‘frequently asked questions’ section on the trust’s website.

The aim is to clarify the trust’s role as “architectural custodian of the Suburb” said Lauren Geisler, its education and publications assistant.

She said: “The phone rings non-stop all day. We’re trying to streamline our service and direct residents to the residents’ association or the council if their question falls under their jurisdiction rather than ours.”


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Character

Appropriate questions for the trust, which has been responsible for conserving the character of homes and gardens in the Suburb since 1968, would include asking what to do if a chimney falls down or advice on building a new house extension, she explained.

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But instead it has received all manner of enquries, including a report of a dead fox in someone’s garden, a complaint about Heathrow flight paths during Wimbledon and a query on the trust’s remedy for a broken bottle of oil outside WH Smith.

Angus Walker, a trustee, explained that Hampstead Garden Suburb residents often confused the trust and the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents Association – the trust even receives cheques intended for the residents’ association.

He hopes the new frequently asked questions section will help clarify the situation and remove some of the pressure on the trust.

“People do genuinely get concerned and want to know why we can’t do something about their problem or even accuse us of failing in our duty,” he said.

“But if we were to try to get involved, we would be in trouble with the authorities responsible.”

Janet Elliot, chairman of the Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents Association, said the enquiries were nothing to do with the residents’ association. She said they arose from people looking for “somebody to do something without knowing who does what”.

She confirmed that the residents association did not control flight paths, collect dead foxes or sewing machines... or even clear up oil spills.

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