A motion intended to improve student housing was passed tonight with 51 votes against 22 votes out of 79 votes with six voters abstaining at the second Union General Meeting of the year. The motion was put forward by Cian Lloyd Ireland, a member of the Co-op Society and the newly formed Tenants Union who ere involved in handing out leaflets decrying the state of student accommodation at the last Union General Meeting two weeks ago.
The key issues highlighted by the motion were the increase in prices for 26 out of 29 student accommodations leading to a lack of affordable housing for students and a lack of disabled accessibility in those accommodations.
Cian Lloyd Ireland stated that the motion would lend credibility to the Tenants Union when negotiating with the University and would offer a student owned body able to vote on accommodation pricing similar to the Edinburgh Student Housing Co-op which is the UK’s largest, affordable student-run housing project. Ireland also remarked that while the Tenants Union would operate with oversight from the Student Union they would be able to campaign more directly for improvements to accommodation than the Student Union who must maintain relations and commitments with the University and would offer students “A place where students can have their say on housing.”
When questioned on how the Tenants Union would be able to operate fairly Cian Lloyd Ireland mentioned that the union would only act after a consensus was reached among their members and would operate according to the procedures of Cooperative UK the network for the UK’s co-operative businesses and the Tenants Unions own constitution.
NUS delegate Stuart McLuckie who opposed the motion brought up the fact that there was currently no documentation for the Tenants Union constitution. He also mentioned that there was nothing the Tenants Union could do to stop accommodation costs rising due to an increase in gas or electricity prices. McLuckie concluded by saying that the Tenants Union should be an official part of the traditional Union structure.
When approached for comment on the motion following it’s successful vote Union Housing Officer Joshua Muirhead who seconded the motion said:
“It’s a victory to, I think, minor extents, obviously it shows it needs a lot more work considering it is the beginning.”
“I think as Housing Officer that the main thing I can say is the idea of student voices matter and as I said in there it’s the group of students coming together that matters and the voices rather than just myself being the only student on the negotiating table.”
“It’s a way to start, it’s not the perfect way to start, but it’s better than just standing with nothing and it’s as Cian said, if you want to negotiate if you want to take part in it, (The Tenants Union) come along and you will be more than welcome, the founding 30 members signatures were from a wide range of student groups, background, political backgrounds .”