THE efforts of students in Worcester in the fight against coronavirus have been hailed as “brilliant.”

Paul Bennett, who is a member of the Worcester University Community Forum and a councillor in Malvern, said the current generation of students should be proud of their efforts keeping the infection rate down.

He said: “Over the last nine months I have never seen a student generation so dedicated to doing the “right thing.” All age groups of students at the University have made a real effort to prevent infection rates rising, they have been brilliant.

“On top of this, the student nurses, paramedics and midwives have been saving lives on the front line in addition to their studies.”

Mr Bennett, who has 23 student tenants in Worcester, also took issue with comments made by Worcester councillor Richard Udall, who told the Worcester News back in September that bringing students back could cause a “tsunami” of coronavirus cases, something he said has not happened.

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He added: “I thought he was wrong at the time and recklessly creating fears among local residents for personal political gain. He had no local evidence to support his claim and he has not been at any of the University’s Community Forum meetings during the last year, asking any question about the University’s policies or precautions for Covid.

“It was noticeable that none of the other Worcester Councillors from all the local political parties, including other Labour councillors, who do attend the University Community Forum joined in with his claims at the time.

“Three months later the evidence is now clear, there has been no extra Covid surge from University of Worcester students in the city because the University and its students have made certain that this did not happen.

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“I have no personal axe to grind with Councillor Udall but having over 30 years’ experience of dealing with students in private and campus accommodation across the country, I felt his comments could have set local residents against students and perhaps even put them in danger in such circumstances. He was just wrong to do this.

“Perhaps Cllr Udall would like to join in and thank the staff and students he maligned so wrongly?"

In response, Cllr Udall said: “Cllr Bennett is clearly entitled to his opinion and his views. Equally, I have a duty to raise concerns on behalf of the people I represent. People were worried about large numbers of students returning to a small area of Worcester in September; my views were even shared by the National Union of Students and the Lecturers Union.

“As I said at the time, I had every confidence that the university would act responsibly and I believe they have, however, both residents and students have continued to express concerns to me about some student activity and the occasional lack of the observation of the rules away from campus; this is a legitimate and a real concern.”