Wera Hobhouse responds to student over town vs gown concerns

By Ali Gourley, Aug 11, 2017 2:08

A notebook open on a desk.

Wera has written an open response to the student who said he was "full-on disgusted at the way students are spoken of" in the city...

Dear Tom,

I agree that students contribute to the community, both economically and socially, and Bath is richer for them. What you are experiencing is a symptom of a larger issue, and that is a chronic housing shortage locally and nationally. This is the fault of government housing policy, not students.

In Bath we have a long waiting list of over 4,000 people who can’t access social housing. Our limited stock of social housing is being depleted by the government’s housing policy. We also have families who can’t find affordable houses, which are also being depleted, as more and more are turned into houses of multiple occupation, which in turn impacts the local community.

As you suggest, large sums of money come with students, and Bath is also under pressure to convert industrial land into purpose-built student accommodation. This all adds incredible pressure on everyone involved.

You are upset by the comments of local residents, but local residents are upset by the changes to their streets and to their communities. I wish more students were as engaged in the local community as you clearly seem to be.

I assure you that I am working to change the government’s mind, to allow councils to borrow to build more social housing, and I am joining the call for the universities to build more accommodation on the sites they have already been given.

I believe that if we can act on all of these areas, then we will begin to take the hurt and anger out of the situation, and begin to find a way through. Any city must carefully balance the needs of all its residents and Bath is no exception. We must stop playing a blame game with each other. Everyone deserves somewhere decent to live, but we are all suffering from the government’s failed housing policy, and we are all fed up with it.

 

Yours sincerely,

Wera Hobhouse

Bath MP

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