‘Misleading rhetoric’ blasted by St Andrews students

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A FIFE councillor’s stance on houses in multiple occupancy in St Andrews has come under attack from the university Students’ Association.

President Owen Wilton and director of representation Sienna Parker spoke out after Liberal Democrat councillor Gerry McMullan was reported to have cited a student takeover of the town and anti-social behaviour as reasons to support legislation to limit future HMOs.

A spokesman for the Liberal Democrats in north east Fife has told the Citizen that the councillor’s comments are not endorsed by the rest of the party in the region.

“Councillor McMullan does not represent the views of Liberal Democrats in north east Fife,” he added.

“We are pro-consultation and want to make sure that everybody has an opportunity to express their views.”

Last week, Owen Wilton hit out at the comments saying the debate over HMOs needed to be conducted in the proper fashion.

“It is frankly exasperating to hear this kind of hot-headed and misleading rhetoric at a time when we need to be having a sober and rational debate about HMO policy in St Andrews,” he added.

“Councillor McMullan’s claims are utterly baseless: crime rates in St Andrews are incredibly low, and whilet there are isolated instances of ‘un-neighbourly’ conduct, there simply is not a systemic social problem in this town.

‘‘Those who pretend otherwise are, frankly, out of touch and don’t know the meaning of ‘antisocial behaviour.’

“They also overlook the considerable efforts students have been making to forge a stronger relationship with the local community through initiatives such as the student-driven On The Rocks April arts festival, part of the ‘Celebrating Fife’ programme.”

Councillor McMullan told the Citizen this week he would be more than happy to meet student representatives to discuss HMO policy.

“The regulations committee bases any objection pertaining to an HMO application on facts and what is correct by law,’’ he said.

‘‘That is why, with the exception of an isolated few, all applications that come before the committee are passed for approval.”

“I will reiterate that I am more than happy to meet with the university or even the Students’ Association to discuss the matter.”