Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Opposing Views on Situation

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Opposing Views on Situation

Article excerpt

Coun Bill Shepherd, executive member for housing and regeneration, said students remained important to the city's economy. He said: "We are aiming to ensure students in Newcastle have access to safe, well-managed and decent accommodation, while balancing the needs and welfare of residents. We do not wish to drive students out of areas like Jesmond, and we deplore the use of terms such as ghettos."

His Lib Dem colleague, Councillor Ron Armstrong, has previously stirred up anger by suggesting students should be moved out of Jesmond and Heaton.

SUPPORT: Coun Bill Shepherd Coun Armstrong said: "The production of new student beds in a market place where the number of students is static will drive down rents in student houses.

"The city council does not have the legal power to determine where students live.

THE OPPOSITION Newcastle's Labour group has called for further debate on the student housing strategy, saying it "lacks ambition". Labour's leader Nick Forbes said: "Our concern is that this strategy is not ambitious enough and only sees students as a problem in terms of housing, rather than as an asset to the community. "Although the strategy is called Living and Learning in Newcastle there's nothing about promoting the value of learning, it's all about where students live and a strategy to shift them into purpose-built ghettos. The Lib Dems seem to think that driving students out of areas such as Jesmond and Heaton will free up properties for family housing. Landlords will not sell these properties, they will just rent them out to other groups of DEBATE: Nick people. All it will do is replace one set of issues with another."

THE PRIVATE LANDLORD National Landlords' Association regional organiser Johnny Lighten said landlords were concerned the policy had not taken into account that student numbers may fall or stop growing due to rising fees and the recession.

He said: "We're broadly supportive of the way the council has reviewed the policy but we have concerns about its ability to adapt if student numbers fall. …

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