Town and Gown communities failed by party politics

Posted on

Dear Editor

The UK government and its backers have steam-rollered through the return of students to university with the dire consequence of adding to the current covid19 infection surge, albeit also caused by the over relaxation of control of the community in general, as we are now witnessing in so many Town and Gown places.

Parliament has recklessly and disastrously ignored repeated warnings that this would happen over past months from the like of so many academic and scientific experts and community campaign organisations.

This is a consequence prompted by the influence and power of the great economic engine that is the universities and their partners such as promoters of the night-time economy and unrated student rental. These co-conspirators have brooked no argument against such as their claimed is a great ‘economic good’. Indeed across the UK neighbouring councils to university places are known to have said they would give their eye teeth to have a university on the basis of such claims, and in selective ignorance and evasion of any bad side effects for the local communities they would plonk a new university down within.

Many MPs and councillors, of all parties, have also had their snouts in the trough, for example farming student votes for political advantage and investing in unrated property rental in many cases. For them what is not to like in claiming huge economic benefit to the constituency they represent along with spin off benefits in terms of investment opportunities and academic kudos (including the fringe benefits to  fawning politicians and sons and daughters of the media of unearned honorary degrees).

In the face of such apparent huge economic advantage (’their claimed jewel in the crown of the economy’) the concerns about quality of life etc raised by local residents have been seen merely as local nimbyism to be ridden over roughshod at Westminster and by their pet local authorities wherever a university might be.

Yet now there is a deafening sound of the flapping of panicked wings as the chickens come home to roost. Even some of the mass of MPs formerly supporting the universities are starting to  expressed concerns about the return of students; as if what has happened was not clear enough for even the most ignorant and evasive of them many months ago based on what we have who have the eyes to see and ears to here have clearly recognised as happening in so many other countries.

No MP wants a lockdown in their constituency while no MP wants a spike in cases and no MP wants to single out a section of the community for blame while all MPs are responsible by their silence and evasion and disingenuous questionable representational  behaviour  of bringing about this very circumstance. Now how clever is that! Now some whinge decisions are being made in isolation in No 10. hence too late in the day we witness some pretty hapless backbench unrest about this and other related issues.

I have now learned not to further rely on any MP including ours for support in contesting this disastrous development in face of much evasion from them one and all.

Some MPs may now and so late in the day be crying crocodile tears but that is about it. No real care for the impact of university/student life on residential community now as ever.  Just manoeuvring to protect their vote. We must not forget it Has been the MPs with their business partners of various sort who have fuelled this problem. And then after all these weeks how many of the 140 plus who represent Town and Gown places have spoken up robustly about the adverse impact the student return first would have and now is having? I can find none; my MP being one of the many despite have far greater access to the media than community representatives at large.

Every Town and  Gown MP serving today in this light have proved themselves not fit to serve another  term and they should therefore step down or be removed for the next election to be replaced by new blood we might find it worth trusting, although in modern times it is hard to find trust in any elected political representative new or old.  I will certainly be asking my MP to stand down when the time comes for what that is worth.  Let us not overlook the fact that leading up to this debacle the few questions that were asked in Parliament by some MPs of Town and Gown places were all about issues to do with students and none about impact on local residential communities these elected people were elected by and should have been but were not representing the interests of. This is not a matter of whether the blame rests with this political party or that but rather about them all judged as one.

Reg Barritt

General Secretary, Chester Community Voice UK

99 Hartington Street, Handbridge

Chester CH4 7BP


St Andrews QV (Qui Vive) is an independent not-for-profit, non-political platform for news and debates about issues that are important to the Town. It exists to hold decision makers and public services to account while its editorial policy is to accommodate all shades of opinion from all parts of the community, prioritising evidence-based arguments. St Andrews QV is a member of the Independent Community News Network and is committed to the Community Journalism Charter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy