Fluffy bunny fantasy of the ghetto 1

July 7, 2006

The foundation on which the arguments of disintegrating communities are based is sheer student-hating prejudice ("Student 'yobs' drive out locals", June 30). It would be interesting to see how the notion would switch if MPs regarded the students as constituents (which they are) and supported them instead of condemning them. If the MPs you mention already view students as "not part of the community", is it any surprise that students act in contempt of it?

My experience of living in accommodation in low-rent areas showed that the last thing inner-city "local communities" were was supportive and "community-like". Mostly they are selfish, vindictive and downright nasty when it comes to anyone who wasn't born and raised there.

The idea that students create no-go areas that are yobbish and antisocial in comparison with the lovely community-loving locals is from a fantasy world where fluffy bunnies skip around in tutus.J Student accommodation (as in Belfast, Glasgow and Leeds) is usually in areas that were derelict, in poor repair and dangerous before students moved in, and are less so now.

If you want to experience real no-go areas, you don't go to a student area (where the antisocial behaviour is usually good-natured drunkenness, littering and small-scale recreational use of cannabis) - you go to one of the community estates filled with junkies, violent jobless youths and street gangs, where whole familiesJhaveJ"burning cars"Jin the hobby section of their CVs.

Areas of accommodation rented by students attract investment, late-night facilities and improved bus routes, increase footfall for local shops and businesses, generate a buzz that the often miserable inner city sorely needs and students provide the income to regenerate old cinemas, theatres, bars and restaurants. Students redistribute wealth brought in from elsewhere and live efficiently in shared accommodation while doing so.Students are far more likely to have socially responsible habits such as recycling, buying organically and doing volunteer work.

I live in an area where student housing is incredibly welcome. Before students, next door I had a junkie, then a professional shoplifter, then a teenage psychopath. None was a member of the evil middle class. Which would you prefer?

Jeremy Ireland Warwick

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