Students set to target 2012 council elections

St Andrews Students' Association president Owen Wilton and director of representations Siena Parker,
St Andrews Students' Association president Owen Wilton and director of representations Siena Parker,

THE St Andrews Student Association is targeting next year’s council elections as they bid to overturn the new HMO ban introduced by Fife Council.

The group have continually argued against the policy and presented their case before the north east Fife area committee last week when the matter was decided.

But with the policy now adopted, association president Owen Wilton and director of representation Siena Parker say they have been left with no option but to focus on the 2012 council elections as part of a campaign to get the ban overturned.

They fear the ban will force students to live in the outskirts of the town centre, putting pressure on house prices in areas that are currently popular with families.

And there are also worries that landlords could charge increased rents to fewer tenants in an attempt to sustain income while side-stepping HMO regulations.

ARGUMENTS

“The arguments in favour of this policy seemed to shift throughout the consultation,” Owen Wilton told the Citizen this week.

“Nobody seems to be saying it will make town centre properties more affordable any more - which, of course, it wont.

‘‘All we heard about was residents making the effort to maintain nice gardens and window boxes while students don’t look after the properties they rent.

“That’s what this ban is really all about and everyone else - students and families outwith the town centre - are going to have to deal with the consequences.”

Incoming president of the association, Patrick O’Hare, is also keen to have the ban overturned and is not ruling out standing up a candidate in the election.

CANDIDATE

“Owen, Siena and a lot of other people have worked very hard to make the case against this new policy and it’s a real shame it has now been introduced,” he said.

“We will consider putting a candidate up for election next year and we will explore other avenues that might help us.

‘‘In a town where students make up around half of the population, it’s only fair we are properly represented.”

Councillor Robin Waterston, who voted in favour of the ban, has called on all parties to come together to find a long term solution to the town’s accommodation problems.

In a letter to the Citizen this week, he said: ”In the best interests of St Andrews, we need to keep talking, listening to each other, while doing our best to avoid inflammatory rhetoric.”