27th Jun, 2022

LETTERS: Your discussion about your city from this week's Observer


Well done to the Observer for publicising one of the biggest problems facing Coventry today (Studentication, is it harming our communities? 16 Feb).

Coun George Duggins, leader of the city council, talks of balancing needs of local residents and the universities.

Which is exactly the point we in Cannon Park, and many other neighbourhoods, have been making for several years.

But his council has refused to listen.

The scales are now so heavily weighted in favour of student accommodation at the expense of family housing, emergency action is now required to achieve that balance.

Article 4 is not a draconian power to block all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HiMO), but a simple law which gives our elected representatives the right to limit numbers in specified areas.

In other words, the council’s planning committee would have control of what goes on and not developers, whose interest lies in profits not people.

Coun Duggins need look no farther than his counterparts in Trafford, Greater Manchester, to see how this can be done.

The council there has just implemented an Emergency Article 4 Direction to protect the local communities from the problems that we have suffered for more than a decade.

Not only have HiMOs been allowed to develop unhindered in Coventry but have been actively encouraged by the City Council.

From the perspective of local residents in this area it’s apparent that the Council has ignored completely the housing needs of young families through to the elderly.

For example, in Cannon Park the number if HiMOs is now in excess of 35 percent. That is, now more than a third of homes, built for families, no longer available to them.

He implies that that Article 4 might adversely affect non-student low-income families in the rental sector. On the contrary, these are the people who suffer most from the proliferation of student accommodation as they can’t afford the high rents demanded by landlords.

Tthe only housing needs that are being catered for presently are the students – at the exclusion of everyone else. How can this be described as ‘balanced’?

Mike Parsons

Chairman, Cannon Park Community Association


No one likes paying income tax do they? Council tax in particular gets people’s ire. I’d hope at least that we can agree it is needed. What annoys people is when they don’t know why they do pay tax! Let me try and explain this dilemma.

In Coventry, if council tax is raised by 1 per cent it raises £1.2million. If income tax was raised nationally, it would raise £5.5billion. If that money was then redistributed Coventry could get £32million. Notice the difference?

Why is this important? The cost of looking after our country and our people is rising. People are living longer. This is great but comes with a price tag. It doesn’t run into millions, it runs into billions. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, spending on social care across the country has fallen in real terms over the last few years whilst at the same time the demand is rising at unprecedented levels.

In Coventry over the last five years or so, the number of people over 65 years old has gone up by nearly 5,000. Children in care across the country and in Coventry has also shot up. The price tag for this runs into tens of millions each and every year.

In the same period, the grant from the government for the council has been stripped by over £500,000,000. In return the government have said councils can raise tax by a maximum 6 per cent over three years raising circa £7.2 million.

If the government actually spread that £5.5billion properly and evenly, council tax wouldn’t have to go up. Instead they have abdicated their responsibility to the most vulnerable in society and passed it on to local areas regardless of need or poverty. And what have the Tories spent the money on instead? £1billion to the DUP to keep Theresa May in Number 10 and £4billion on reorganising the NHS. That worked didn’t it?

Councillor Jim O’Boyle

Cabinet member for jobs and regeneration

Labour, St Michael’s

Coventry Council House

Your story about the 4.9 per cent increase in Council Tax with a picture of councillor John Mutton adds insult to injury.

It tables out why the increase was necessary, blaming everybody bar the present Coventry council. Not a mention of the estimated millions, lost in revenue on HiMOs (houses in multiple occupation which if rented to students do not attract council tax).

If the council changed its strategy there would be a surfeit of money to spend on the things the city really needs. I have just had, as many have, a notification of my pension “pennies” increase for next year.

I was wondering how I was going to spend it, now i know how!!

K J Clarke

St Ives Road



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