Union president claims council policy is unfair to Portsmouth students

Tributes left outside Fareham Academy.

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THE president of Portsmouth’s student union has accused the council of discrimination.

His comments are in response to a new policy drawn up by the authority to limit the number of shared houses in an area to just 10 per cent.

This was motivated by a belief that houses of multiple occupancy –HMOs – which are often used to house students, can change the character of communities.

There have also been complaints from residents about anti-social behaviour, noise and rubbish created by people living in shared houses.

But president of the University of Portsmouth Student’s Union, Godfrey Atuahene, said the policy ignores all the benefits students bring to a city and unfairly demonises a whole section of society.

He said: ‘This policy forces students away from the city centre where they want to be and will greatly affect where students can live.

‘It is unfair to determine where someone can live and what an owner can do with their own property.’

He added: ‘After assessing the possible impact of the proposed HMO policy and after looking into research undertaken concerning HMO’s, we have concluded that the policy is discriminatory towards students, risky to the economic growth of Portsmouth and fully believe that other more effective avenues can be explored to resolve any issues there are within areas with a high concentration of students.’

Tory planning spokesman and member of the planning committee, Cllr Luke Stubbs, said he thought Mr Atuahene’s objections were misguided.

‘Absolutely, some students do positive things for the outlying areas of the city and help to keep pubs and clubs afloat,’ he said.

‘But the HMO policy doesn’t just apply to students and a lot of adults living together does change the character of an area and cause problems.’