Residents of South Leamington have forged a new alliance to campaign on common concerns and to fight to champion their area as a ‘diverse community to be proud of’.
At a meeting held in the Community Church in Charlotte Street, almost 50 residents and traders hammered out proposals to engage collectively on matters such as student housing, anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping, traffic and parking.
The meeting was also attended by Warwick University student representatives and observed by town, district and county councillors.
Instigated by the Charmont Residents, a group of people living in Charlotte Street and Claremont Road, others taking part included Radford Road and New Street residents, Althorpe Street traders and members of the Friends of the Eagle Rec group as well as many individuals who had come to voice their concerns.
Richard Charnley, of the Charmont group, said: “The problems that generated most discussion were those caused by the proliferation of houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) accommodating groups of noisy students in residential streets.
“Nick Bond from Radford Road spoke of the frustration that complaints to Environmental Health regarding noisy parties can only result in an abatement order being issued against an individual tenant and not the owner of the property.
“He also described rubbish disposal and fly-tipping from those houses being cleared by the district council at no cost to the occupants or the landlords, who pay no council tax.”
Warwick Student Union representatives said they were working to try to ensure students were ‘good neighbours’ and that they welcomed having a direct line of communication with local residents.
They endorsed a suggestion that the university authorities must be pressed to take more responsibility for student housing.
Reporting successes by collective action, Len Mackin of Charlotte Street gave the example of how rubbish accumulations at HMOs in the street had been tackled by having established, on behalf of a group, a direct point of contact with council officers.
This is appreciated by officers as well as residents.
Acting on advice by Cllr Matt Western, people at the meeting decided it was important to have a recognised structure, and nominated a leadership team to include residents Alan Wilkinson and Len Mackin with Judith Swinson of the Althorpe Street traders.
They will now co-ordinate ongoing campaigns