A local councillor has sparked anger after branding students “house snatchers” and vowing to oppose the “studentification” of the local area.
A campaign leaflet by independent Osbaldwick councillor Mark Warters for the upcoming elections included a section entitled “Student housing – the invasion of the house snatchers continues!”
He uses the leaflet to complain that the current acceptability threshold for student houses in the community, which is 20%, is too high.
Warters states: “This situation is not wanted by residents in Osbaldwick, not wanted by Osbaldwick Parish Council and not wanted by me as Ward Councillor.”
However students have hit out against the claims saying he should represent everyone.
Costas Mourselas, a second year PPE student, said: “Councillor Warters is appealing to irrational and conservative fears and attitudes that have no place in a modern society, let alone in the city council chamber.”
A second student, who did not wish to be named, accused Warters of “playing to the gallery”.
Warters told York Vision: “My position regarding student housing provision in residential areas is the same as it has been for many years, namely that the University authorities should face up to their responsibilities to provide an adequate level of on-campus accommodation.
“The term ‘invasion of the house snatchers’ was one I coined some years ago for a press article detailing the percentages of student let HMOs in certain streets in York when I was pressing for an Article 4 Direction to be introduced to require potential landlords to apply for planning permission before establishing any more HMOs in York.
“It is a matter of great regret that the Labour run council introduced a 20% neighbourhood threshold for acceptability for HMOs in residential areas, all the more regrettable when this policy was pushed through by Cllr. Alexander.”