From: Steering Group report to Annual General Meeting 2016 of the Exeter St James Forum (ESJF)
Following a request from Bury Meadow Residents’ Association (BMRA), ESJF supported a petition drafted by Chester Community Voice against the ‘studentification’ of Chester, asking for legislation at national level to ensure local authorities sustainably manage the interests of all parties, not least communities of permanent residents, when considering where student accommodation is developed. The Petition also gained the support of St James Residents’ Associations (SJRAs) and St David’s Neighbourhood Partnership (SDNP). A copy was sent to Ben Bradshaw MP who was present to support Chester’s MP Chris Matheson when he presented it to the House of Commons.
The ‘observations‘ of the Minister, Brandon Lewis, in response were disappointing.
Meanwhile, Ben Bradshaw invited Christine Fraser of SDNP and Robyn Connett who represented ESJF (having consulted with SJRA reps) to meet with him and Cllr. Keith Owen to discuss the issue of ‘studentification’ in Exeter and elsewhere, and to stress the need for involvement at a national level. As a result Ben Bradshaw agreed to write to Secretary of State Greg Clark raising points agreed during the meeting including the weight to be given to neighbourhood plans, and in addition to write to MPs of all university cities/towns, with a view to forming an All-Party Working Group to focus on ‘studentification’. The response to Ben Bradshaw’s letter to the Secretary of State, written by the Minister, Brandon Lewis, was not particularly helpful. Ben Bradshaw has since reported that he has had some encouraging conversations with fellow labour MPs and that after the EU referendum he would pursue his initiative of