Wednesday, 21 October 2009

City Council investigation into impact of students on Brighton shelved

Last year Green Party councillor Georgia Wrighton (pictured) called on the council to investigate the effect of the high number of students living in the city, looking at how best to harness students' cultural and economic contributions, how, if at all, the council could improve the housing conditions of students, and minimise the negative impact on communities of landlords carving up family homes into student dwellings - and students' sometimes rowdy behaviour.

In some streets in Hanover, Georgia argued, hardly any family dwellings are left, students are forced to live in often damp and otherwise poor accommodation, and any sense of community goes by the wayside in the wake of high turnover of residents.

Amazingly, Labour and Tory councillors agreed, and a scrutiny panel has published its final report: 'Students in the Community'. But that was more than six months ago, and now Georgia feels the whole thing is being brushed under the carpet.

"The Tory administration doesn’t seem in any hurry to properly consider, let alone adopt, some of the very sensible suggestions we made," she said.

“I’m concerned they hope to brush the ‘studentification’ report under the carpet – leaving the many residents who have asked for help in dealing with this problem wondering if the council are ever going to do anything about it."

It seems that, whatever the original intention, the council's scrutiny process is being politicised, and the investigation's final report is being sat on to avoid having to debate the reality: that having such a high proportion of students living in Brighton does cause a few problems, especially in some areas, but that these are massively outweighed by the benefits it brings.

And perhaps most unpalatable of all: the fact that, of those that do exist, many of the problems 'caused' by students in the city should actually be blamed on private landlords (including, I imagine, a few members of the local Tory party) and the Government.

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