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It's sad to report, but there's trouble in paradise

PUBLISHED: 15:27 05 September 2007 | UPDATED: 14:37 07 September 2010

IT IS a shame that community divisions in Hampstead Garden Suburb have surfaced with a vengeance while the Suburb is celebrating its centenary year. The celebrations have been memorable and nothing could overshadow them, not even the inevitable vandalism

IT IS a shame that community divisions in Hampstead Garden Suburb have surfaced with a vengeance while the Suburb is celebrating its centenary year.

The celebrations have been memorable and nothing could overshadow them, not even the inevitable vandalism that blighted the centenary flower bed - just as celebrity resident Jonathan Ross predicted it would.

But recent disputes and legal actions have certainly cast a cloud over the festivities, and now a breakaway group of residents is bidding for control of the Suburb Trust as the row over service charges escalates.

In one way, such division should be welcomed. The Suburb would be a dull place indeed if it was ruled by a select group whose intentions were never challenged.

Such acquiesence would signal a lack of real interest in the Suburb among its inhabitants, and lead to a soul-destroying apathy which in the long terms would be much more dangerous for the long-term future of the Suburb than any amount of discourse and gentlemanly disagreement.

The real shame is that after 100 years, there appears to be no effective forum for the resolution of small domestic disputes of the type that can all too quickly grow out of all proportion if people feel they are excluded from proper debate. Perhaps it is time to look again at the structures of the Suburb, if only to try to avoid the kind of costly and ultimately futile legal exchanges which benefit no-one save the already well-heeled members of the legal profession.

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