Response from Universities 'Miserably' Inadequate

Writing in the Nottingham Post on Tuesday 3 August 2021, Joshua Hartley reported that residents are disgusted by the amount of waste left on streets by students, landlords and agents as students leave to return home, and which has to be removed by Nottingham City Council's already over-stretched and struggling teams.

'Disgusting' waste left behind after students return home is attracting rats, residents claim

Students and landlords are being blamed

A group of 'disgusted' residents have called for action over piles of rubbish left on several streets in part of Nottingham.

Waste has been pictured in several areas of Lenton after students left the area to return home after their studies.

Images taken in Fredrick Grove, Derby Grove and Balfour Road show the scale of the issue which, it is claimed, has attracted rats.

Kate Loewenthal, 51, is chairwoman of the Lenton Drives and Neighbours Residents Association has called on the city's universities to commit to keeping the city tidy.

She said: "It's an absolute disgrace. It's disgusting.

"Some of it is the students and some of it is the landlords and their cleaners, but ultimately it doesn't matter who it is it shouldn't be the council cleaning it up, they've been struggling with their services being impacted by Covid-19 already.

"The landlords don't pay any business rates and the students don't pay any council tax and yet there's always that mess left for someone else to clear it up."

The chairwoman said the level of waste on the streets was always bad at this time of year.

But she added: "This year it's particularly bad, the place is overrun with rats from all the waste. How are the council supposed to deal with that?"

And in a call for action, she said: "The universities know this happens every year and they should be doing something about it, we have the same issues and every year they fail miserably to sort it out.

"They've gone out over the last few weeks and advised students about waste and what have you, but they don't take any notice."

However, Mrs Loewenthal was clear that not all students were responsible for the mess.

"Don't get me wrong it's not every student, there are some that are really conscious and try really hard to do the right thing.

"But with how many cars there are during term time there's no reason why the others can't take the rubbish away."

Nottingham City Council had previously warned that due to the impact of Covid-19 and the 'pingdemic', frontline services are currently thinly-stretched.

Portfolio Holder for Cleansing Services at Nottingham City Council, Councillor Rosemary Healy, said: “It is really disappointing that anyone would feel it’s acceptable to dump rubbish on the street like this – there’s really no excuse for it.

"It shows disrespect and presents a hazard to neighbours and would be so easy to deal with properly by either using the bins provided, taking extra waste to the recycling centre in Lenton or using our free bulky-waste service to dispose of larger items.

“Now that it’s been brought to our attention we will do our best to collect it as soon as possible – but our crews are very thinly-stretched at the moment, with 10 per cent of the waste team off due to self-isolation or Covid. 

"We are imploring people to show a little consideration for our crews and for others and do their bit to keep our city clean and tidy.”

A University of Nottingham spokesperson said: “We work hard to ensure that students are considerate members of their communities year-round. We encourage students to donate rather than throw away unwanted items.

"Alongside our local partners we carry out a range of initiatives to encourage responsible waste management. 

Most recently our ambassadors worked with Nottingham City Council waste colleagues and Community Protection to advise students about recycling, help with litter picking and ensuring wheelie bins were put out ready for collection.”

A spokesperson for Nottingham Trent University said: “We work closely with partners including Nottingham City Council, letting agents and private landlords to make sure that our students are fully aware of their responsibilities in relation to waste.

"This includes joint patrols, regular door-knocking campaigns and litter picking in areas with NTU students. 

"We have received an award for our initiative with the British Heart Foundation to encourage students to donate unwanted items to charity, which has seen tens of thousands of bags given. 

"We meet regularly with local residents to hear their concerns and work up practical solutions to help address them. 

"All complaints are investigated swiftly and, whenever there is any evidence of wrongdoing by NTU students, we take immediate and appropriate action.”

'Disgusting' waste left behind after students return home is attracting rats, residents claim - Nottinghamshire Live

Editor's Note:

The problems highlighted in this report in the Nottingham Post have been repeated every year in to so-called 'studentified' neighbourhoods across Nottingham and were the prime environmental drivers which catalysed people into forming the NAG in the first place. Comments sent to the NAG this week from different neighbourhoods with identical problems include:

1."I would like to say ‘good morning’ but I can’t because it is not ! I am absolutely disgusted and exceedingly angry at the mess my refuse collectors (salt of the earth) are expected to clear today on behalf of the LANDLORDS and THEIR TENANTS. No other word for it, it is FLY TIPPING, and this is not the first week it has happened. It isn’t right. No contribution paid to the city by either the students or landlords, Council Tax or Business Rates. I don’t know what can be done, but clearly something must, and those that do it held to account. Something has to be done. ...

BUT - more to the point it [the rubbish and waste] should not be there in the first place.

There are food items, sanitary items in open plastic bags on the pavement, and clothes and bedding in a pile. There is even a mattress.

This has gone on for far too long, every year the same, and I want to know when and how is this to be addressed because landlords are clearly not taking responsibility. It is yet again left to such as myself and other residents to write requiring answers, and I will not accept COVID as a reason. This problem has a very long history.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and I have had enough. ...

Someone has to be held to account, and it can't always fall to Nottingham City Council for sole responsibility, but it is up to NCC to implement regulations if any are in place, whether it be a landlord or tenant. It is not apparent this is being monitored, and if it is, then it is not very successful. ..."

2."I am so ashamed of my area. The many neglected HMO properties are more than an eyesore, and so close to the City centre,... that they give a poor impression of our City to both residents and visitors.

The Council has made a real effort to try to clear the mess recently, but quite frankly, it is both a thankless and never-ending task.

My Residents' Association has petitioned you before, and I would like to reiterate here, that we consider that Landlords should be made to honour their responsibilities and should have a binding clause in their HMO licence, to ensure that they HAVE to arrange for rapid clearance of waste from their properties. Last year we were assured that the dreadful situation we had to endure then would not be allowed to develop this year. We had most of our streets with disgusting, smelly, rat ridden bins and strewn black bags for many weeks, from the beginning of July right into September.

This is exactly what is starting to happen again. I feel very strongly that this situation cannot continue. As residents, it makes us feel less important, & less considered than your HMO owners, yet we are the ones who pay the Council Tax.

Yes, they have to pay for a Licence, but because of the vast amounts of waste created by the student population, especially at the end of the Summer term, it potentially does not cover the extra cleansing costs to the Council, let alone the extra policing and other Council service costs that are incurred by the HMO population. ..."

3."... As a resident living in a 'studentified' neighbourhood, I am disgusted to see - again and again - so many neighbourhoods (including parts of my own) looking like the run down back streets of a run down town in a run down banana state republic, and to know that there are genuine residents living in these streets who have been fighting year in and year out to try and maintain some semblance of a decent environment (and a good future) for themselves, their families and friends (as well as those of their 'guest' who might actually care about where they are temporarily living). I am at a loss to say how frustrating it is to hear the continuually repeated responses from the universities which only go on to reinforce the impression that their behaviour, in the 21st Centeury, in essence is no different from that of their medieval predecessors: feudal and arrogant. ..."

The Editor adds that the response from one student accommodation agency in reply to a series of e-mails pointing out the amount of waste accumulating outside properties they manage, seems to indicate that, whilst they appreciate residents' frustrations, and are grateful when waste issues are brought to their attention (though they do not ask for this to take place), it is unrealistic to expect them to check waste issues on a regular basis at the properties they manage.

So, it appears that neither the tenants, nor the landlords and their representatives, nor the businesses (the universities) that bring students to Nottingham in the first place are prepared to do anything other than create a smokescreen of words that do very little, of anything, to answer the question:

'When and how is this seemingly never-ending problem going to be properly and permanently dealt with?'