Councillor calls Leam students a ‘dead weight’

A Leamington Councillor has accused students of being “deadweights” in the community.

Students’ Union President Stuart Thomson reacted strongly to what he saw as “alienating” remarks. However, Town Councillor Bill Evans feels his views were misrepresented.

Plans to build a new two-storey development near Llewellyn Road in Leamington were presented to the Warwick District Council last week. This proposal prompted discussion on the issue of students in Leamington.

Evans said in the Warwick Courier that, “Leamington has a disproportionate number of students” who “don’t join in local events [and] don’t vote.”

Thomson responded by saying, “I am very disappointed by the comments made by Councillor Evans.

“[They] are alienating and do not promote positive action,” he added. Thomson also cited One World Week and the work done by Warwick Volunteers as examples of students getting involved. Hundreds of students take part in volunteering schemes in the communities surrounding Warwick University every year.

In response to Evans’ comments on students not voting, Thomson said, “I would encourage all students to use their vote in the forthcoming local elections to elect a councillor who represents the entire community: clearly not Councillor Bill Evans.”

When interviewed by the Boar, Evans emphasized that “we don’t have a problem with students.” Evans explained that many students “chose to vote at home” which is “fair enough.” He explained that his statement was simply “a fact, not a criticism.”

Evans went on to say that one problem is that since most students are only in Leamington on a temporary basis, some streets are left “completely dead for half the year.” He also pointed out that students do not pay any council tax.

He was keen to explain that “I don’t hold students responsible. It is a problem but it’s not a criticism of students.”

Evans and the local Council are now reportedly more willing to approve the aforementioned plan which had previously been refused. “I think a student hostel is much better for our area than students taking over more and more low-cost housing for the community,” said Evans.

This new development would provide housing for about 24 students and the application for plans will probably be presented in March.

“Having a student hostel is a lot better than student housing,” said District Councillor Jane Knight in the Warwick Courier, explaining that many students get “manipulated” by landlords.

Evans had spoken about holding discussions with the University on the issue of student accommodation and the possibility of having more residential areas around campus.

Thomson said that the Union is also “pressing the University to increase the availability of rooms on campus.”

However, he added that “many students prefer to live away from the campus bubble and Leamington Spa is widely regarded as a fantastic place to live whilst at Warwick.”

Many students who choose to live in Leamington do so until their final year. Thomson said that “thousands of Warwick graduates go on to spend the rest of their lives working in Leamington Spa.”

Mike Pidgeon, Students’ Union Communications Officer, drew attention to “contribution that students make to local businesses,” claiming that “without the student population in Leamington, many businesses would simply not be viable.”


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