Special dispensation?

Emma Kegan made this Freedom of Information request to St Mary's University, Twickenham

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Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

1. Can you please tell me on what authority did St Mary's University have to charge students accommodation fees up-to the 8th April 2020 when section 5 of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 stated that:

https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2020...

"a person responsible for carrying on a business consisting of the provision of holiday accommodation, whether in a hotel, hostel, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartment, home, cottage or bungalow, campsite, caravan park or boarding house, must cease to carry on that business during the emergency period".

2. Can you please email me any documentation from any regulatory body or government organisation that granted St Mary's University a dispensation from section 5 of the The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. If St Mary's University were not granted any dispensation from section 5 of The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 by any regulatory body or government organisation can you please make this clear?

Yours faithfully,

Emma Kegan

Freedom of Information, St Mary's University, Twickenham

Dear Madam

Thank you for your freedom of information request. We would respond as follows:-

1. Students rent accommodation under a licence which is usually for the duration of the academic year under which they pay accommodation fees. The legislation that you refer to in your request relates to holiday accommodation. Halls of residence are not classified as holiday accommodation and therefore this regulation is not applicable to the University.

2. No such dispensation was required for the University to provide student accommodation.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Browning
University Secretary and Head of Governance
Office of the Vice Chancellor
St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road, TW1 4SX
020 8240 4267
07970 531112
[email address]

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Dear Sir,

Thank you for your reply but it doesn't answer the question, as such, can I make this an internal review, if fact, your reply seems to be misleading.

The legislation does not only apply to holiday accommodation.

This is what the governments website says:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

Accommodation

Holiday accommodation must close. ****This includes hotels, hostels, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday apartments, home, cottages or bungalows, campsites, caravan parks or boarding houses, canal boats or any other vessel unless the exemptions set out in law apply****.

You can only carry on your business and keep your premises open in order to provide accommodation for people who:

Are unable to return home, or use the accommodation as their main residence.

1.What type of accomoadation does St Mary’s University class itself as? And does St Mary’s University class the accommodation you provide to students as any sort of home?

2. And did St Mary's University Vice Chairman tell students to return home on the 24th March in a YouTube broadcast?

Yours sincerely,

Emma Kegan

Dear St Mary's University, Twickenham,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of St Mary's University, Twickenham's handling of my FOI request 'Special dispensation?'.

Further to my request for an internal review.

In the case of The Commissioners for HM Revenue and Customs v Summit Electrical Installations Ltd:[2018] UKUT 0176 (TCC) it was found that University halls of residence are classified as 'dwellings'

https://www.gov.uk/tax-and-chancery-trib...

The website of the Cambridge Dictionary states a 'dwelling' is classed as a house or place to live in.

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/diction...

Do you now agree your assertion that the legislation that I refer to is in fact correct and your reply is incorrect?

Clearly, a students accommodation is classed as their home (which they can transfer their general election voting rights to) and the legislation didn't allow students to leave their accommodation after the 23rd March coronavirus lockdown period - do you now agree with this?

Will you now amend your original answer to reflect the correct response?

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/s...

Yours faithfully,

Emma Kegan

Freedom of Information, St Mary's University, Twickenham

Dear Madam

As has previously been stated the University does not consider its accommodation to be holiday accommodation under section 5 of The Health Protection (Coronavirus Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. We remain of this view and as outlined to you in our email of 18 November 2020.

We believe that we have answered your FOI request. While you do not agree with our response we are not minded to change our views.

Yours faithfully

Andrew Browning
University Secretary and Head of Governance
Office of the Vice Chancellor
St Mary’s University, Waldegrave Road, TW1 4SX
020 8240 4267
07970 531112
[email address]

show quoted sections

Dear Sir

Thank you for this. I'll make a new FOIA request titled "residents handbook".

Yours sincerely

Emma Kegan.

Emma Kegan left an annotation ()

A building that you rent for a period of time, that provides meals within the rental payment and has on site laundry facilities and a gymnasium. Hmmm!

Irrespective of what this 'mystery accommodation' is, the government told student to vacate their 'mystery accommodation' prior to the 23d March because of the coronavirus pandemic. St Mary's University reaffirmed that students should go home to their main residential address too, but still charged them up to the 8th April for rooms they were instructed to vacate.

I'll leave you to decide if St Mary's University are profiteering.

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