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How Hyde Park’s councillors and MP are responding to student changeover concerns

Date: 12.07.21 | in: Uncategorised

It is student changeover time and in Hyde Park, Headingley and Woodhouse, students have been moving between lettings, mostly over the same weekend. As your elected representatives, we know the difficulties that are caused at this time of year and we share the frustrations of our long term residents who have to endure open bin bags, belongings strewn into the street and an uptick in noise nuisance.

For many, this year has felt worse than it has been for a long time. There are a number of reasons for this, not least the absence of some of the mitigations we are able to achieve as a community during ‘normal’ times. We must ensure that our community resources are valued and funded properly and that all stakeholders in the community are engaged with the problem and have responsibility for the outcome.

Walking around the area recently has been very unpleasant and some of the scenes we have witnessed, and the photographs we have been sent are clearly unacceptable. No-one should have to live in a street where open bin bags and rubbish line the pavements. What we do know, is that this is not generally done by the student tenants. Student changeover time attracts those looking for valuables and bins are often slit open overnight with unwanted contents discarded. There are many students who are just as concerned as we all are, who are not responsible for this mess.

Covid has also played its part. Waste services at Leeds City Council, who would usually have all crews focused on this have faced reduced staff due to self-isolation, an increase in waste across the city as people work from home as well as the funding pressures that are experienced by all council services. As we do every year, we coordinated a volunteer effort to assist in changeover, providing bags and collections of unwanted belongings ahead of time to be sorted and given to charity. This year, we have had fewer volunteers, particularly as changeover coincided with a peak in Covid cases, and a significant number of isolations. We have also not been able to organise mass efforts as we would usually have done within public buildings to get the job done as efficiently as possible.

We are engaging with the universities, the Council leadership, landlords and community leaders to make sure that this problem is tackled. We need proper funding for the work that we are doing and for the services we all rely on. We need landlords and the universities to take ownership of this problem and help us to act effectively.

We know that the tensions this has caused in the community has been compounded by reports of loud mass gatherings in the area, at a time when the Covid case rate was already high. This is of course completely unacceptable, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms. We are engaging thoroughly with the police on this and are hopeful that the organisers will be identified. We know that this has been a difficult year to be a student and we understand the temptation to take part in these events, particularly in the absence of club venues. However, we need everyone to take responsibility for the safety of the community and stick to the social distancing measures set out by the Government.

This has been a very difficult year for our community. Covid has exposed and exacerbated our problems and challenges. Fixing them will take a concerted effort from everyone and we will continue to work to that end. We must avoid division and work together to keep our area as a vibrant, pleasant, and safe place to live for everyone.

We are organizing a meeting with the universities, councillors, Leeds City Council and Hilary Benn’s office to discuss how we can work together to resolve the issues raised.

Please read the statement from Leeds University here 

All details are correct at date of publication shown at the top of the article

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