Despite the efforts of the World Cup organisers, we had a good turnout at our meeting in Chums last week. This was a meeting where we focused most of our attention on the growing problem of large, professionally organised student parties. We were very pleased to welcome Ms Lynn Robinson, Deputy Registrar of the University of Bristol with responsibility for the non-academic side of student life and Ms Joni Lloyd, Community Liaison Officer who regularly attends our meetings. Ms Robinson was able to hear first hand concerns about these parties. We live in an area where we calculate that students make up 46% of the population and our association has been notified of 13 such parties in this most densely populated part of the City of Bristol. I attach the minutes of the meeting, but will summarise briefly.
- Information about how other universities approach this problem was passed on to Ms Robinson who said that she would look at this information and would follow up. The focus should be on prevention. Joni Lloyd has conducted a programme in all halls of residence this year to advise students about such issues as noise and being a good neighbour. Students are advised that they should have no more than 3 guests per person and any noise should be shut down by 10 pm, slightly later at the weekends. They are looking at the sanctions structure. At present, if the University receives a complaint, each student in the household can be fined up to £100. This may be increased. The university employs a daytime police-officer, they may increase this presence. Ms Robinson agreed that these parties constitute not only enormous nuisance and distress to us as residents, but that there is an issue of student welfare and health and safety.
- Joni Lloyd reminded us that if residents are made aware of a party in advance, they should immediately contact her (firstname.lastname@example.org) AND the council noise team (email@example.com). This can quickly lead to a noise abatement order which, if breached, can lead to a £5000 fine.
- Our focus as residents was how to get support in the middle of the night. The police will not act unless the party spills out onto the street and the Council does not have resources. We asked if the University Security Team could patrol around areas such as the Chandos Rd area (where most of the problem parties occurred last year) and be available to us to phone and alert about an intrusive party. They do not have powers to do anything other than warn the students that they have logged the party with the UoB authorities who could then follow up with sanctions. Nonetheless, it was felt that this might be more effective than hapless residents trying to quell the party in view of the large numbers involved. Ms Robinson said that she would take this idea away and see how it could work.
- The role of landlords was discussed. In reality, they do not have an interest in evicting students half way through the year, but if they felt their HMO licence was under threat, they might feel they had an interest in the good behaviour of their tenants. This is an issue for the Council and Councillor Negus is looking into it.
- We undertook to bolster our own efforts with our autumn student welcome with a joint letter/email with the universities. In it we would point out the need to be considerate, good neighbours and outline possible sanctions if students overstep the mark in terms of general behaviour and these very large parties.
It was a very productive evening at which the UoB representatives were able to hear the upset and distress caused by a small minority of our 800 student neighbours. We look forward to news of positive outcomes. We would like to thank Mark at Chums for allowing us to use Chums for the meeting, very much appreciated!