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Letter: Why Should Students Get Two Votes And No Tax Liability?

Published on: 20 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 20 Apr, 2013

2 Votes for studentsFrom Bernard Parke

Hon Alderman

With election day fast approaching perhaps it is worth reflecting that the student population will have the privilege of voting twice.

Once here in Guildford and again in their home towns, as in the case of local elections these rank as two different events.

Why should they vote at all in Guildford as they will have long departed before they can benefit in any way?

We are led to believe that even in 2010 there were 1300 such houses and if there is five or six in each dwelling this would account for possibly over 6000 votes enough to change the majority in many wards.

The Government is firm on maintaining this situation despite the fact that students pay no council tax and landlords no business tax.

It is said that the loss of council tax is made up in the rate support grant, but no one was able to give me an answer to my recent enquiry on how much of this is received through the rate support grant and the rate support grant statement, itself, does not give such information.

The question therefore must be asked is this central grant contribution sufficient to cover the loss of council tax and the extra work by the Borough due to the state of this lettings?

This is a growing problem for many areas are now becoming run down and resemble twilight zones.

This in turn makes houses in those areas difficult to sell and reduces their market value so that they are bought up by this new type of landlords, at lower prices.

There is of course no local solution: the answer lies with central government alone.

When will this Coalition Government face up to this problem and prevent the further deterioration of, what are often, affordable homes for young home buyers?

For readers information – The following question and answer has been copied from the website of the Electoral Commission.

Can I vote twice, at home and at uni?

You can’t vote twice in:

  • a UK Parliamentary, Scottish Parliamentary, National Assembly for Wales or European Parliamentary election.

But you can vote in local government elections at home and at your term-time address, as long as they are not in the same local government area.

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test 9 Responses to Letter: Why Should Students Get Two Votes And No Tax Liability?

  1. Daniel Bennett Reply

    April 21, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Surely very few students will bother to travel any great distance to vote twice. Is there any evidence that any of them, at all, do this?

    Students get votes because they are adult citizens in a democracy. The right to vote is certainly not predicated on paying taxes. You don’t buy a voice in elections.

    However it is good to see the Hon. Alderman’s concern for the living standards of students being forced to live in overcrowded under maintained property in as he puts it ‘twilight zones’.

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    April 22, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Perhaps I should mention that the Students’ requested that a polling station was placed at some expense on the University Campus to avoid them having to walk the short distant to Queen Eleanor’s School.

  3. Chris Ward Reply

    April 24, 2013 at 11:28 am

    The university polling station has been there for years, even back when I was a student in 2002.

    The only change that has happened lately was allowing students in Manor Park (F5) to vote on the main campus (F4) rather than have to walk up to Onslow Village Hall.

    As Daniel Bennet said, students get two votes (if their home is not in Guildford) because they are paying for two dwellings in different locations. There is little evidence to suggest that the students vote in both places (I certainly didn’t).

    The amount of money having a university in the town pumps into the local economy is immense. Council tax is utterly insignificant when you think of the employment, the trade and the expertise the university has attracted.

    Benefit outweighs cost. Vastly so.

  4. C Stevens Reply

    April 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Daniel Bennett didn’t say that students get two votes “because they are paying for two dwellings in different locations”. In fact, he was anxious to separate making any payment from the right to vote.

    As to the benefits to the town: Chris Ward’s argument applies to any large organisation, not just the university.

    And, when you think about it, council tax is utterly insignificant in comparison with the cost of three or four years in tertiary education, so I can see no reason why students shouldn’t pay it.

  5. Bernard Parke Reply

    April 24, 2013 at 6:44 pm

    I am not questioning the the benefits which the university offers to the town. The University of Surrey is perhaps not only Guildford’s largest land owner but probably it’s largest employer.

    The main point is, using the Borough Council’s own figures, Guildford Borough Council would gain an extra £2,700,000 (based on 2010 figures) if students paid council tax.

    It is said that this money is, in fact, recouped by the central rate support grant. However, the Borough has no means of measuring how much of this rate support grant relates to student lets.

    If one section of the population does not pay council tax why not apply this criteria to all residents and let everything come from central funds. The rate support grant has a much broader financial base than the Council Tax and is therefore more equitable.

    Students are under considerable financial pressure these days, but with the growing number of mostly absentee landlords there is perhaps a case for these people to pay a local business tax.

    As for students voting in Guildford, which they have every right to do so, it is a pity that they are not long enough in the town to witness the results of their voting/non-voting. Some of us unfortunately do!

  6. S Garner Reply

    May 7, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    Mr Parke might be interested to know that I was the students’ union president who successfully campaigned to have a polling station on the campus, at a time when there was major concern about the apathy and lack of political involvement of young people in national elections (it was part of a national campaign called ‘Rock the Vote’).

    At the same time, we recognised that students should also become more aware and sensitive to local issues and politics, so we also started the tradition of inviting the candidates up to university for a hustings.

    Interesting also for Mr Parke, I never left Guildford! I’ve actually now lived here longer than I was at home. I have worked hard and paid council tax ever since and spent my money in local shops. I have also volunteered at local events and am active in my local church and community outreach. And my closest friends from my time at university all live within a half mile of my home!

    Maybe just a little research in future might make his commentary slightly credible?

  7. Bernard Parke Reply

    May 10, 2013 at 9:18 am

    S Garner presents an interesting contribution.

    However, he/she has not apparently seen my last letter in which I stated, “…students are perhaps more sinned against than sinning.”

    I was well aware of the advent of the new polling station placed at the university which was felt not to be altogether cost effective.

    The university was in my ward when I was a councillor.

    Being so large, it should perhaps have its own ward rather than share with the Cathedral, the Royal Surrey County Hospital, the Research Park, and Onslow Village?

  8. Jonathan Bennett Reply

    May 13, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    If Mr Parke is concerned with the cost of having multiple polling stations so people can avoid having to walk, he should focus his attention on why there are stations at both Queen Eleanor’s school, Onslow Village and Onslow Village Hall, around half a mile, or less than ten minutes’ walk, apart.

  9. Bernard Parke Reply

    May 13, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    The cost of polling stations is not a concern of mine especially if they are really needed.

    I do not use any of them as we have a postal vote system which I use.

    Perhaps more money could be saved if everyone did the same?

    Anyhow we seem to drifted off the main point:”Are students more sinned against than sinning?”

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