The Mighty Boost: Tory MP praises Carlisle’s ‘vibrant’ students

Carlisle MP John Stevenson

Carlisle MP John Stevenson tells Andy Hamilton about the boost students give to the city’s culture and economy – and sees no reason why many of us won’t vote Conservative at the next election.

When John Stevenson weighs up the difference Carlisle’s large student community is making to the city, the Conservative MP says he sees a lot more to it than money.

“It is a real boost,” he says, “but it’s not just an economic boost.

“I think there’s also a social boost. It creates a vibrancy within the city and just a different atmosphere. I think that’s down to students, and it’s a great thing for Carlisle.”

But what about the perception of students as an unruly, noisy bunch? Don’t people complain to him sometimes?

“In two-and-a-half years I cannot think of one complaint I’ve had from a resident in Carlisle about student behavior,” he says. “You’ve got to commend the students for that.”

He added, “I think there’s a recognition by the people of Carlisle that the university has been a good thing and a recognition that the students are a good thing for Carlisle.”

Speaking on the subject of the University’s recent financial troubles, John is confident of the institutions success: “It’s got through the difficult patch, and it did have a difficult patch that has to be recognized, but I think it’s now onto calmer waters.

LISTEN to Andy’s interview with John Stevenson here

“The best thing to say about the University of Cumbria is that they were willing to help invest in the new accommodation in Denton Holme, I think that demonstrates a degree of confidence in the University going forward.

“The University is great for Cumbria, great for Carlisle and we’ve got to give it as much support as we can.”

Before settling in Carlisle, the Conservative MP grew up in Aberdeen, then went on to study History and Politics at Dundee University.

Asked if he was politically active at University, he said: “To a certain extent yes, but not massively. I took an interest obviously. I did History in Politics so you couldn’t not”.

More controversially, the Scots politician voted very strongly for the introduction of higher tuition fees in 2010, voting to remove England’s undergraduate tuition fee’s cap to £9000. Defending this decision, he said: “We have lived on debt for years, that debt has to be repaid and it has to be repaid by future generations.”

Despite the the controversial issue of tripling tuition fees for English universities, cuts to EMA and higher education, John Stevenson, who won the election with a slim majority of just 853 votes in 2010, thinks there’s no reason why students wouldn’t vote Conservative at the next election, saying students shouldn’t see fees in isolation.

“There is a whole variety of issues that matter to students other than tuition fees, tuition fees is one issue, but there are other issues that are far more important at the end of the day”.

Andy Hamilton

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