Town branded a

By Juliette MaxamA TOWN has been branded a “student ghetto” by Conservatives, who claimed “uncaring and irresponsible” undergraduates were destroying its quality of life.

By Juliette Maxam

A TOWN has been branded a “student ghetto” by Conservatives, who claimed “uncaring and irresponsible” undergraduates were destroying its quality of life.

The autumn edition of the Conservative Party newsletter for Wivenhoe includes an article on the town's large student population, under the heading “Parts of Wivenhoe becoming student ghetto”.

It said there was “great concern” an increasing number of properties in the town were being let as accommodation for students from the nearby Essex University.

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“In some instances uncaring and irresponsible student behaviour is having a detrimental effect on their neighbours' quality of life,” claimed the article.

It also alleged the situation was not always helped by student homes and gardens falling into disrepair.

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The newsletter is edited by David Adams and Eugene Kraft, both Conservative members of Colchester Borough Council.

They have held meetings with Colchester Borough Council planning and environmental protection officers, housing officers and representatives from the university to “ensure that both landlords and students are reminded of their social responsibilities”.

But the university's Student Union defended undergraduates against the criticism.

Ria West, vice-president student development officer, said: “We fully understand that Wivenhoe is a 'closely-knit' community which happens to be in near location to the University of Essex.

“However, we do not feel that students should be excluded from this environment if they choose to live in or visit this town.

“Students at the University of Essex not only bring an estimated amount of £30million per annum to the local economy, but they also bring the knowledge and understanding of diverse cultures enriching the community.

“Whilst we take a firm view on students' activities within the community, we feel that the responsibility of the property in which the students live in is as much the duty of the landlords and letting agencies as it is the students.”

Wivenhoe mayor, Gilli Primrose, claimed some student houses were not looked after properly and some gardens tended to become overgrown, which could cause conflict with neighbours.

But she added: “It's not a major problem. We keep a watching brief. We try to encourage students or landlords to take care of the property. We certainly don't think of Wivenhoe of having ghettoes.”

A spokeswoman for Essex University said an accreditation scheme has been set up with Colchester Borough Council's housing department, involving landlords who provided good-quality accommodation for students.

Under the scheme, landlords and students are encouraged to take responsibility for maintaining the property and garden.

Neither Mr Adams nor Mr Kraft were available for comment yesterday.

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