St Andrews students may bid for council voice

ST ANDREWS may have one of the student community as a future representative on Fife Council.

For the University Student Association are considering putting forward one of their own for election to the local authority if no other candidate backs their opposition to the proposed ban on further Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO).

Last month, Fife Council supported a report which claimed there was now an “unbalanced community” in the St Andrews conservation area as families are being priced out the housing market.

The report recommended that planning permission be refused for any future HMO applications.

But the Student Association are opposed to the proposed ban as they believe it will have a detrimental effect on students and won’t have the desired effect of opening up the housing market to families.

CANDIDATE

They are now considering fielding their own candidate at next year’s council elections to ensure their views are heard.

Owen Wilton told the Citizen: “We would consider standing at the election if no other candidate represents our position on HMOs.

“Lets be honest, these proposals are all about students. It doesn’t criticise us but it’s clear it is about us as we are the ones predominantly living in HMOs.

“This plan isn’t going to help families, they are going to be worse off. It will push the HMO market outside the centre of town where property is more affordable at the moment.

“And besides, do families want to live above Tesco or a pub? Students live in that type of accommodation but would a family want to?

“Our priority is students and this could lead to more ‘underground’ properties being let out. This is happening already and we don’t want to see it getting worse.”

The Students Association are preparing to submit a response to the council outlining their arguments as part of the consultation process.

DIALOGUE

They intend to enter into a period of constructive dialogue over the new plans.

In their submission, the Association claim that demand for student accommodation is unlikely to change, and a ban on HMOs will move that demand out with the centre of town or force some landlords to consider renting out properties unregulated.

All four St Andrews councillors - Liberal Democrats Frances Melville, Bill Sangster and Robin Waterston along with Dorothea Morrison of the Conservatives - voted in favour of introducing the HMO ban.

Endorsing the report which recommended the ban, Councillor Waterston stressed at a council meeting last month that he didn’t want the policy to become an issue that divided students and other residents.

The next council elections to be held in Fife will take place in 2012.