Surge in student voter numbers in St Andrews after HMO row

More than 1,600 university students in St Andrews have registered to vote since the HMO decision

There has been a jump in the number of students in St Andrews registering to vote following a row about student housing in the town.

Councillors in North East Fife voted recently to limit the number of HMO licences, which allow more than two people who are not relates - such as students - live under one roof.

That has angered many at St Andrews university, who are signing up to take part in elections, so they can overturn the decision in years to come.

The next Local Government elections in Scotland are on May 5th, 2022.

Student Association President, Lewis Wood, said: "Sentiment amongst community councillors and various other members of the community make this issue feel like a battleground, with students on one side and locals on the other. I refuse to accept any such lines.

"When students choose to relocate to St Andrews, they invest in a future here, whether this is for 5 years or for 20. 

"It may be that a large amount of students have a short- term residence here, but residents they are, and in there time here they truly do see themselves as part of the community. 

"I moved to St Andrews four years ago now, and I haven't left for more than three weeks since. 

"It truly is my home, and I like to think that I contribute just as much to it as it has to me. 

"This is the case for a great number of my peers, all of whom value being part of such a unique town."

A spokesman for the University of St Andrews said: "The University stands foursquare with our students. 

"They have not only been treated shamefully by some individual councillors, but appear to have been denied the right to speak at the Fife Council committee, while other local residents were invited to be heard.

"What sort of model of democracy is that? 

"The Council has taken a decision while ignoring the views of half of the people who live in St Andrews. 

"By any standards, that is bad government.

"Students have been residents of St Andrews for over six centuries and are integral to the town’s prosperity and the fabric of this community. 

"It is time for a new model of representation which ensures elected representatives are accountable to all who live in and contribute to the town, not just a vocal minority.

"The University will enthusiastically support the campaign for voter registration and we are currently investigating ways to allow students to register to vote automatically when they matriculate."

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