E&E Letters | University is a benefit for us all

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07 March 2016

University is a benefit for us all

I refer to Alan Jones recent letters on students and purpose-built student accommodation.

In his most recent letter, he comments on full-time students having exemption from council tax, implying that this is granted by Exeter City Council.

Since he is a declared candidate for the ward of Pennsylvania in the forthcoming elections, I hope he knows that this exemption is granted by central government rather than an individual local authority.

It used to be the case that Revenue Support Grant from central Government more than compensated Exeter City Council for the cost of student exemption, but as this central funding is being cut year on year by the Chancellor this is no longer the case.

So it is not the City Council that is short-changing the residents of Exeter, but Mr Jones own Tory Government.

Mr Jones suggests a 5 year moratorium on purpose-built student accommodation. Once again, this seems to go against his party’s own policies.

When they came to power, the Conservative-led Coalition introduced the National Planning Policy Framework which has at its heart the “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

The result of this policy is that developers appear to have the upperhand in planning decisions as planning committees can only refuse applications on purely planning grounds…and any local refusal is often overturned by the Planning Inspectorate, with the possibilty of costs awarded against the City Council.

That said, in recent months, we’ve seen the ECC Planning Committee refuse new student accommodation attached to Renslade House, and a reduced scheme come forward on the site of Radmore & Tucker after an initial refusal.

To me , it seems that Mr Jones sees the University only in terms of students – I know from my time on campus that the University of Exeter is a major employer for the city, and that’s a benefit for us all.

Luke Sills
Labour Candidate for St Davids

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