PRE-LOADING STUDENTS CAUSING SLEEPLESS NIGHTS IN BRISTOL
'It's Party Central': the Bristol Residents fed Up with Noisy Student Neighbours
Derrick Collier was feeling a little weary. “It’s party central around here. The students are taking over,” he said. “Last night two girls were hammering on the front door of the house opposite me at 3am for half an hour. It’s hard to get back to sleep after something like that.”
Collier won’t bother contacting the authorities about his ruined night. “I could spend my whole life reporting incidents,” he said.
Almost half of the houses in the street in the Redland area of Bristol where recently retired Collier has lived for 40 years are occupied by students. At night the handsome Victorian villas are lit by elegant cast iron lamps. It should be idyllic but isn’t. “These aren’t big streets,” said Collier. “They are like little canyons and every sound echoes around.”
Collier spoke on the street on Wednesday night – traditionally a time of drinking and high jinx for Bristol University students after an afternoon of sporting fixtures. So serious has the problem become in the town, and so numerous the complaints among residents, that the university is now paying the local police £25,000 to shut down student parties, and mollify people like Collier.
Groups of students were on the move. Some carried bottles of wine or cans and occasionally took a swig. Many nursed bottles of vodka or other spirits. The eerie sound of a screaming fox competed with shouting, chants, peals of laughter.
As midnight approached, parties in nearby streets were under way. Disco lights flashed from some top windows and the sound of dance music and singing leaked into the streets from others.
A steady procession of Ubers arrived to take students to parties or bars or clubs elsewhere in Bristol. Hellos and goodbyes were yelled and car doors slammed.
Collier’s list of complaints is long. He recalls looking out of his window to see a group of young men trying to lift up a car. He shouted at them and they stopped but, sure enough, next day the car had been manoeuvred into the middle of the street and the police had to be called to sort the problem out. After one party the street was littered with empty canisters of nitrous oxide, laughing gas.
A patient man, Collier tries to engage but he is fed up with students telling him they are just doing a bit of “pre-loading” – drinking cheaply at home or in the streets – before heading into pubs or clubs. “You’ve got dozens of them doing that. It’s not good.”
Another couple of long-term residents, Peter and Wendy, reel off the numbers of the houses that are the noisiest. “It’s particularly bad when it’s warm and they’re all out in the garden,” said Wendy.
Peter was born and bred in Redland. The neighbourhood has changed. “It’s not the same sort of place. It’s not ordinary people and families. It’s all students.”
As a teenager Peter remembers sometimes being a bit noisy when he walked home from the pub and club. “But you’d soon be told off by the police and would stop.”
The university produces a “guide to community living” spelling out the features at parties that are “likely to be unacceptable” such as hiring a DJ, professional sound equipment or door staff. Sanctions include fines and even exclusion.
But the partying continues. One resident described an event in September as a “virtual continuous festival of noise”. Another said their road had become a “student playground” and plaintively added: “We are back to going to work feeling sleep deprived.”
During a particularly notorious party in May, neighbours said the music was so loud that objects in adjoining houses rattled. Partygoers were seen vomiting and urinating in the street.
Another resident of the Chandos Road neighbourhood, Harriet Bradley, a professor of women’s employment at the University of the West of England, described an incident in which a group of female students, clearly taking part in some sort of dare game, had run naked down the street. “That wasn’t very pleasant,” she said.
Bradley, who is a Labour city councillor, said the students were simply louder these days than they used to be. “They shout. They didn’t used to shout,” she said.
She said students were not keen to live in purpose-built student accommodation. “They don’t like being in little boxes, they want to be out in proper houses.”
Bradley has an interesting angle on the problem, having studied the impact of undergraduates’ class on their life at university.
Her theory is that many of the young people who cause the racket in Redland are from public schools. “There are a lot of rich, entitled young people. They think they own the city, they think it is their right to occupy the street.”
[Steven Morris, the Guardian, Friday 18 October 2019]
Bristol University Pays for Late-Night Police Patrols Targeting Noisy Students
Residents near campus say university has failed to tackle students’ antisocial behaviour
The University of Bristol is paying for night-time police patrols in areas around its campus after years of complaints from residents about loud parties and disruption caused by its growing number of students living in rented houses.
While a number of British universities already fund or subsidise police activities to safeguard students and staff, Bristol appears to be the first university to pay for police to protect residents from students.
The university says it is paying Avon and Somerset police £25,000 for Operation Beech, which includes dedicated patrols until 2am on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with locals given a phone number to report noisy behaviour.
A police spokesperson said the move was “a response to issues of antisocial behaviour reported by residents in areas with a significant Bristol University student population”.
But those living in the worst-affected areas around the university – the Redland and Cotham districts to the north of the main campus – say the university has failed to rein in the behaviour of its students living in private accommodation and appears to be more interested in deflecting bad publicity than in tackling the problem.
Andrew Waller, who has been living in Redland since 2006, said the problem had been acute for the past five years as the university had expanded and more undergraduates were renting privately in the area.
“When I moved in I wasn’t aware of any of this sort of stuff. Students didn’t really cause us any problems. But for some reason in 2013 there was a rash of noisy parties, and that was when I realised there was a problem,” Waller said. “Now we get some very large, very loud parties, and they represent the worst extremes.”
Until 2002, Bristol had fewer than 10,000 full-time undergraduates. Since then it has expanded rapidly, so that by 2012 it had nearly 14,000 and this year it is close to 20,000, along with 6,000 postgraduates. Almost all of its own accommodation is taken up by first-year or international students, leaving the rest to find housing in the private sector.