I am talking about a revolution in Suburb
The newest member of the Trust speaks to Josh Pettitt about his dramatic plans for the future of the community
He has accused the Suburb Trust of sabotage, slander and secrecy. But following election success Dr Saul Zadka finds himself “sleeping with the enemy” and part of an organisation he has dubbed the Kremlin.
As a former foreign correspondent in London for an news organisation, it is fair to say Dr Zadka knows how to make a headline. He has courted media attention, from leading the occupation of Gaddafi’s house in Winnington Close to threatening legal proceedings against the conservation body during the latest election.
But last week Dr Zadka was elected to the Trust Council and admits it is still difficult to talk about “us” rather than “them”. In full flow, he speaks of an organisation which is a barrier to neighbourly values rather than a force which protects the character of the historic community in Hampstead Garden Suburb.
“Behind the rose garden of the Suburb there is this reality that it’s not necessarily rosy. We take great care of the hedges and the bushes but not the human beings that are behind them.
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“The human dimension does not exist here,” he said.
“If you have a gripe with your neighbour you call the Trust and complain rather than ringing the bell next door. There has been this culture of informing on each other which has been developing for many years.
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“We have created a community George Orwell would have been proud of.”
The Trust is a unique and what Trust manager Jane Blackburn calls a “fragile” body, put in place to conserve the character of area. Dr Zadka’s arrival on the council will be treated with trepidation by the established order.
He ran for election on behalf of the Concerned Residents group which has been sniping away at the Trust for years. But while some thought the group had failed to capture the imagination of the Suburb, the significant margin of victory – Dr Zadka won 17 per cent more votes than his closest rival – shows residents believe a shake-up is in order.
Dr Zadka maintains the Trust has fallen out of touch with residents and points to the recent extensions of Henrietta Barnett as the tipping point for the fallout with some homeowners in the area.
He said: “The Trust lost any moral right to say you can do this or do that when they gave the go-ahead to the monstrosity in Central Square.”
He has even threatened to try and tear down the building if he can find any irregularity with the planning or building process.
“It’s called a revolution. If the Egyptians and Libyans can do it I think it’s high time the Suburb gave it a go,” he said.
But rather than dismantling the regime he wants to see it become more transparent and modernise.
“You have to sleep with the enemy sometimes and it might be within a certain amount of time that they will not be the enemy anymore. I don’t think the Suburb could not have a Trust. We just have to re-invent it and reshape it.”