Local councillor Mark Warters slams students as “house snatchers”

This leaflet was distributed by the councillor which had a section called: “Student housing – the invasion of the house snatchers continues!”
This leaflet was distributed by the councillor which had a section called: “Student housing – the invasion of the house snatchers continues!”

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.”

2 Comments

  1. Vote TUSC
    28 April 2015 - 16:17 GMT

    The simple fact of the matter is, of course, that students at York and York St. John contribute an awful lot to the local economy and enjoy living off campus. Even if both unis provided ‘an adequate level of on-campus accommodation’ the vast majority of second and third year students would live off-campus with their mates, leaving huge amounts of university investment (probably paid for with PFI) empty.

    If you want to get seriously tackle the housing crisis in York, then tackle the real enemies: the landlords who buy up swathes of houses and hike up their prices well beyond inflation. Instead of playing divide and rule, reactionary politics by playing students off against long-term residents, get real about what the problems are.

    A mass shortage of council housing and unaffordable rents means that York the only place in the North of England in the top twenty least affordable places to live. The average rent for a 3 bedroom house in York is £900/month and only 36% of households in need of housing could afford a two bedroom house at 60% of the market rate. Students have not caused these problems, parasitic landlords and letting agencies, alongside a failure to build affordable social housing, have.

    Capping rents and building houses is the only way to solve the housing crisis in York. Scapegoating students will solve nothing and simply allow the real problem to get worse and worse.

  2. Callum Shannon
    01 May 2015 - 18:46 GMT

    I’m the Labour Party candidate for Osbaldwick and what Cllr. Warters would call a “house snatcher”.

    As both a York local and a student, if you vote for me on May 7th, I’ll be a councillor who represents the whole of Osbaldwick and Derwent, not just the non-student residebts of Osbaldwick village. Students face enough discrimination in every day life, we hardly need an elected councillor spouting this.

    Vote Callum Shannon and Mark Windmill on May 7th, Labour’s team for Osbaldwick and Derwent.

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