Councillor Ron Armstrong’s suggestions for reducing the number of students in Jesmond have come under fire from several sections of the local community, with some attributing the housing plans to prejudice against students rather than concern for Jesmond’s long- term sustainability.
Councillor Armstrong is currently spearheading plans to build student housing in areas which are more deprived than the traditionally middle- class Jesmond. He has said he hopes this will create a “better and more sustainable community” in Jesmond.
“Cllr. Armstrong lives in Jesmond and is letting his negative experiences of students in communities dictate his ill-thought out policy of using housing and planning as a type of social engineering,” said a spokesman for the National Landlord’s Association.
David Hickling, community officer at Newcastle University Union Society told JesmondLocal: “It is a tiny minority of irresponsible students that perpetrate anti-social behaviour, and I resent the fact that all students are tarnished with this brush. Students make up 13.6% of the city’s population whilst accordingly 13% of anti-social behaviour and noise complaints involve students. Simply shifting students into purpose-built accommodation is not going to solve these problems. Instead we should be working to isolate and deal with genuine cases of persistent anti-social behaviour within our neighbourhoods.”
Beatrice Brown, a student living in Jesmond, believes that most students would be outraged by the idea:“I appreciate that there is a problem with students in Jesmond and anti-social behaviour but this is just extreme. The idea that we are being marginalised and removed from the community to be segregated in a purpose built area is ridiculous. If there was to be an area solely for students, it would be an obvious hotspot for crimes: students are notoriously vulnerable when it comes to being robbed and I think this would perpetuate the problem further.”
Tom Hardwick, local government Labour candidate for South Jesmond said that he did not think this move would affect the Lib Dem’s popularity in Jesmond, due to a lack of student voters: “It’s crucial that students realise that they can vote in Newcastle. Without the student vote, however, there will be little impact on the Lib Dem’s popularity because of this.”