Update: Council Tax, Your Letters, And A Response

You may remember a few weeks ago that we organised a letter signing campaign to protest against the unfairness of council tax being charged for final year students. We delivered 157 of your letters, straight to Runnymede Borough Council’s door, and now, we’ve had a reply.

It won’t surprise you to hear: the answer from the council was a resounding no.

But it also won’t surprise you that we don’t think their argument stacks up. We’ve conducted a significant piece of research looking directly at the legislation, and have even received some legal advice on the matter. NUS have also agreed to commission a formal opinion on the issue from a specialist barrister – which is fantastic.

The Council claim they are legally required to charge final year students from the point term ends. But that’s simply not true. The law on this is clear and they’ve chosen to interpret a point at which your studies have finished that we don't agree with. We think you’re a student until you have your degree and that your time at Royal Holloway ends with your graduation, and our initial legal advice supports this position.

So what's Next?

On Monday we had our termly meeting with senior College staff, including the Principal, Paul Layzell, Senior Vice Principal (Academic), Katie Normington, Chief Operating Officer, David Ashton, and Vice Principal, Bob O’Keefe. The College have crunched some numbers, and we estimate that the Council are unfairly taking something in the region of £200,000 directly from students’ pockets. And that’s just not acceptable.

We’ve now agreed to take this issue on with the full support of the College, and will be requesting a formal meeting with the Chief Executive of Runnymede Borough Council in the next couple of weeks to discuss the matter. It won’t be an easy meeting, for either side of the table, but when it’s done, we’ll know where we stand. What comes after will depend entirely on how the Council react.

But we want to make something very clear: it’s unfair, we think it’s unlawful, and we won’t let this issue drop.