It is SUCH a difficult issue, and one which I don't think has any clear answers, or solutions really.
We know people abuse the system, but how do you define what's cheating and what's not? Also, there are just too many school-age kids for the amount of schools.
We bought our 2 bed flat in 2009, and we live here with our daughter, who is due to start Reception in September 2013, and where we are, we should get into either of 2 very good schools. However, when we have #2, our flat is going to be pretty cramped, and, eventually, we will have to move somewhere bigger (but this will be after our first daughter is at school). BUT there is no way we can afford a bigger place in the TINY 'catchment' area of these schools HOWEVER we will move as locally as possible, (i.e. still easy walking distance). Is that 'fair'? Personally I think so, but others may disagree!
What I think is categorically UNFAIR is people renting PURELY to get their child into a good state school while retaining a big house which they own somewhere else... but again, others may think that's fine.
I also think a big problem is this area's obsession with two particular schools BTC, they ARE amazing schools, but there are others-I went to look at Wix, for example, and was pretty impressed BUT the distance for places offered there last year was 1,764 meters for the English class on first offers.
BUT as parents (understandably) we want the best for our kids, so not many parents are willing to 'take a chance'.
Also, this may be slightly controversial, but I believe that many kids at Honeywell and Belleville would 'normally' speaking be at private schools, but because they are such good schools, parents who otherwise would not consider state schools do send their children there. Again, this is going to shrink a catchment area. I completely understand why people do it, after all, if you pay your taxes and live in the area, of course you are entitled to a free education for your child, but it does mean more children are applying for state schools.
Just my rambling thoughts!