St Andrews students sign up to vote in HMO protest

Wednesday 16 May 2018

More than 1600 University of St Andrews students have signed up to vote in local and national elections to exercise their democratic rights as residents of St Andrews.

The move comes after councillors on Fife Council North East Fife Area Committee voted to impose strict quotas on the number of houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) in the town.

An HMO license is a license that must be obtained from Fife Council in order to allow three or more people that are not related to rent a private property together.

Student leaders believe the views of students have been ignored by politicians and have set up a petition to encourage students to register to vote in local and national elections and remove the HMO ban.

The University is currently investigating ways to allow students to register to vote automatically when they matriculate.

Student Association President Lewis Wood said:

“Sentiment amongst community councillors and various other members of the community make this issue feel like a battleground, with students on one side and locals on the other. I refuse to accept any such lines.

“When students choose to relocate to St Andrews, they invest in a future here, whether this is for 5 years or for 20. It may be that a large amount of students have a short- term residence here, but residents they are, and in there time here they truly do see themselves as part of the community.

“I moved to St Andrews four years ago now, and I haven’t left for more than three weeks since. It truly is my home, and I like to think that I contribute just as much to it as it has to me. This is the case for a great number of my peers, all of whom value being part of such a unique town.”

A spokesman for the University of St Andrews said:

“The University stands foursquare with our students. They have not only been treated shamefully by some individual councillors, but appear to have been denied the right to speak at the Fife Council committee, while other local residents were invited to be heard.

“What sort of model of democracy is that? The Council has taken a decision while ignoring the views of half of the people who live in St Andrews. By any standards, that is bad government.

“Students have been residents of St Andrews for over six centuries and are integral to the town’s prosperity and the fabric of this community. It is time for a new model of representation which ensures elected representatives are accountable to all who live in and contribute to the town, not just a vocal minority.

“The University will enthusiastically support the campaign for voter registration and we are currently investigating ways to allow students to register to vote automatically when they matriculate.”

More information on the No to HMO Ban.

There is also a blog on the issue by Student Association President Lewis Wood.

In the Scottish Council elections in May 2017 the four successful candidates for Ward 18 St Andrews polled a total of 3258.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office. Contact Steve Bargeton, Head of News & Public Affairs, Communications Office, on 01334 467310, 07802 376 860 or [email protected]. Contact the Press Office on 01334 462530 or [email protected].

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