The Real Cost of a Party

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Creating noise nuisance can not only lead to hefty Council fines and a disciplinary from your institution but it could also be costly in repairing any damage to the property you rent if you hold parties. With the use of social media it’s now easier than ever to spread the word about a party you’re hosting and you risk dozens of strangers turning up and attracting the wrong crowd who won’t respect you, your property or your belongings. Once a large crowd gathers it is very difficult to disperse everyone and as a tenant you will remain liable for any damage caused by the guests- even if you did not know them.  Remember, you are not only paying for the repair itself but also the contractors time which can be very expensive- some examples of costs to expect would be;

Filling and painting over one damaged wall; £60 plus

New carpets; £500 plus

Professional clean; £50 plus

Replacing a broken sofa; £450 plus

If you are not towards the end of your tenancy your landlord can demand you pay for these costs straight away and if it is towards the end of your tenancy you risk losing your deposit altogether and being taken to court for any remaining charges.

It is very common for landlords to request references before allowing you to sign a new contract- remember to bare this in mind because even after you have paid for the damaged property your landlord would still have to be honest when asked if they would consider you a trustworthy tenant.  Some landlords require references from the previous five years so this could have a major impact on you for a long time to come.

Studying is very hard work and it is expected you balance this with a good social life but if you have friends around remember to limit the number you invite and only invite people you trust.  Speak to your neighbours and let them know to contact you if they are disturbed by noise from your property. Leeds offers a wide range of bars, pubs and clubs and it is a much better idea to go to these for a party rather than risking the consequences noise nuisance can bring.

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The House Party Do’s and Definitely Dont’s

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My top tip to any student thinking of holding a house party is to think carefully whether you are likely to cause any offence or nuisance to those living around you- remember loud music can travel some distance and will affect more than your immediate neighbours.   If the answer is yes, then you should take your party elsewhere. Such as hiring a space in one of the many available bars in the city centre.

I’ve heard many DIY solutions that students have tried in the past to try and prevent the noise from the DJ’s and professional sound systems being heard from neighbouring properties. No amount of cardboard or mattresses pressed against windows will prevent your neighbours from hearing exactly what is going on. Especially if your guest list extends to 100+ people who will be in and out of your property and causing a disturbance as they make their way home through the neighbourhood in the early hours. And of course, I wouldn’t have this knowledge if it wasn’t for the University receiving numerous complaints about noise and having to speak to the students involved.

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So what about the idea of hiring some bouncers to try and limit the number of people crashing and ruining your party? What if those bouncers are so intimidating that they scare off your neighbours who just called around to let you know that the volume levels are preventing them and their family from sleeping?  What is likely to happen is them then complaining to the Police, Leeds City Council and/or the University.  Being able to speak to your neighbours direct about any issues as they arise is a far better way of dealing and resolving disputes. Disciplinary and enforcement action is a far worse consequence of making a mistake than having to apologise to the people living next door.  For information on the University’s procedures in handling off-campus issues see the Neighbourhood Helpline Code and see my earlier Blog for details on the Joint action being taken by the Council and Police to tackle noisy parties.

Sustainability Awards

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Hey guys! On Wednesday 10th June we hosted the annual Sustainability Awards in the Refectory! It was a very successful evening celebrating all staff and student sustainability achievements this year. The night went very smoothly, I couldn’t have asked for a better evening after months of planning. The awards evening was organised with the aim of having the lowest sustainability impact possible; this was everything from the food, down to the awards. Therefore the standard food option was vegan and gluten free. This also had the added advantage of catering for all, so was a little less work for me. Honestly, I think most people are a tad skeptical when it comes to vegan food. However this dish was delicious; and I’ve had tonnes of complementary feedback about the food. The main course was a chickpea gateau with a chilli, basil and tomato sauce and the dessert was a dark chocolate brownie with almond milk ice cream and raspberries. I am happy to say this was the best brownie I’ve ever eaten! The place cards were made from seed paper of native wildflower seeds and the awards were made from recycled university furniture. One of the best features were the table decorations made from the children at Bright Beginnings, the nursery on campus (we couldn’t have done a better job ourselves).

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Sir Alan Langlands hosted the first awards, this consisted of 5 awards, 4 aligning to the strategy themes and then we had one overall ‘architect of possibility’. The second Green Impact awards were presented by our own managers Claire and James – for more details about the winners please click here.  All of the photos from the night are on our Facebook page, please click here to see them.

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The Green Impact workbook is due to launch at the end of July, so teams should have a bit longer to complete it. I wish everyone the highest success for the next year, it’s been a real pleasure working with everyone and thank you for making this year very enjoyable!

UTravelActive Walking Challenge

You may have already heard about the hugely successful UTravelActive ‘Step into Summer’ virtual UK coast walking challenge has been taking place over the past few weeks. It set the ambitious target for staff teams to get more active with more journeys on foot and then log their daily steps online to walk the equivalent distance from Land’s End to John o’ Groats. It has created a stir of friendly competition amongst staff teams as well as clocking up some really impressive mileage! So far, 980 people in 196 teams have walked an amazing 102,587 miles collectively!

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Lisa Ronkowski from P&A Operations has been taking part in the challenge from department in the ‘Boggis, Bunce & Bean’ team and we really wanted to share her story with you. It’s certainly inspired us to think about how we can  swap more of those short car journeys for a brisk walk instead! 

The Summer Walking Challenge has given me exactly the nudge I needed to make more effort to be active – there’s really no need for me to reply on buses or cars for a lot of the journeys I make, and as we currently have so much daylight it has been safe to walk more too. I still get a lift to work on a morning, as I am not ready to give up my duvet time for exercise! I make an effort to walk during my lunch hour instead of staying at my desk or sitting in the staff room, and even if I haven’t had a reason to walk into town I have gone for a few laps of Woodhouse Moor or St George’s field. I think these lunchtime walks have been my favourite part of the challenge, as the areas are so beautiful this time of year and it has been a real treat to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the scenery – I even saw the foxes one day!

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Here’s Lisa standing next to her favourite lunchtime spot in St George’s Field. This hidden column is towards the back of the field near Henry Price Halls. Did you know this was there? If not – go and check it out during your next lunch-break!

The biggest change to my daily routine has been my route home – I have walked home every night since the challenge began and it’s a 4 mile walk, sometimes with a detour if I’ve got an errand to run. The weather has, so far, been on my side and instead of feeling tense and drained when I get in from being stuck in traffic I feel energised and alert when I get home. The biggest challenge for me has been the weekends, as I volunteer at a charity shop on a Saturday so spend most of my time behind the till or sorting donations. I have tried to make a point of walking round the shop a lot more, particularly if it’s quiet, to increase my step count for the day. Sundays are my most sedentary day but I can usually find some excuse to go for a walk for an hour or so to try and get the count up.

To really notice the benefits of walking more I measured myself before it began – I have already lost about 3 inches overall and it’s only been 4 weeks so far. I have really enjoyed the challenge, and am completely amazed at the distance that me and my team have covered, not to mention the 180+ other teams that have been taking part too – we’re going to make it to John O’Groats this week and will be on our way back by the end of the challenge. I never thought we’d get close but was looking forward to seeing how far we could manage. I’ll definitely keep up with the walking once the challenge is over, as long as the weather stays dry! It has saved me money, made me feel better overall and stopped me from getting tense in traffic after a long day at work.

It has been great to follow the progress of people getting more active out and about, integrating more green travel into their daily routines and working in teams to reach a goal. Well done everyone!

Leeds City Council Enforcement

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Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team (LASBT) are implementing a new approach this changeover to tackle excessive noise caused by end of year parties. Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team at Leeds City Council has the responsibility to investigate noise nuisance which is a criminal offence.

Whilst the Council appreciates that students will want to enjoy and celebrate the end of exams, this should be done in a responsible manner which does not cause distress or disturbance to nearby residents.

To try to tackle the issue of noise, LASBT will be taking the following approach;

  • Provide additional out of hours patrols within the local area to respond to complaints of noise nuisance.
  • Issuing of Community Protection Notices when necessary; sanctions for non-compliance include a £100 fixed penalty notice, seizure of equipment (including DJ decks and laptops) or prosecution through the criminal courts.
  • Issuing of Closure Notices to deal with large rowdy parties; if the nuisance is not abated after a notice is served, the students at the address may be required to attend the Magistrates Court the following morning for a Closure Order application. Breach of a Closure Order is a criminal offence.
  • If students have previously been served with a noise abatement notice and this has been breached, , the Council may pursue prosecutions through the criminal courts where property seizure is not an option, which could result in a criminal conviction and a fine.

For practical tips and advice on how to avoid causing any problems for your neighbours and to avoid enforcement action, take a look at the Living in Leeds Guide. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/sustainabledevelopment/downloads/community_guide.pdf

What are you doing this weekend?

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The end of exams is a fun time for everyone.  It can often be a shock to the system for students to adapt to the sight of an empty Terrace pint glass instead of a library book. This transition results in a much needed ‘end of exams blowout’. The end of exam period not only benefits students in a positive way, it also affects University staff, lecturers in particular who are excited to see the end of rows of slumped heads and subtle texting in Roger Stevens on a Friday afternoon. A lot of local businesses also thrive from these festivities, especially those situated near the Otley Road region… What I’m trying to say is that students are not the only groups of people benefiting at this time of year.

Alongside hours of partying, noise complaints are also inevitable. Leeds has a very high population density, especially in the inner city which means that noise travels far. Even if you let your immediate neighbours aware of a party, it is still possible that people a few roads away can still be affected. I’ve heard lots of stories about parties getting out of hand, resulting in people’s possessions being stolen. Not only do I live in an area surrounded by families, we are unable to lock the doors of our bedrooms from the outside. This worries me that my valuables may be at risk if I was to throw a party, and so as a result, myself and my housemates have looked into other ways of celebrating this coming weekend (Saturday 6th June).

I’m going to the Yorkshire Post’s Food and Drink event at Millennium Square this weekend.  More than 100 exhibitors will be showcasing the region’s finest food and drink t on June 5,6 & 7th, and most importantly, it’s free! It even goes on till 9 o’clock on the Friday and Saturday and then I’ll be heading to the ball on Saturday night.

Looking for ideas on what you can do? Check out the following link which lists what’s going on! http://urlmin.com/4quq7

A Sustainable Approach to meeting the Challenge of Student Changeover

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To coincide with the end of exams and our students departure of the city, we will be publishing a series of weekly blogs to provide support to our students and reduce any potential negative impacts on local communities.

Whilst the majority of our students do not cause any problems for their neighbours, this time of year is a peak for noise complaints made to the University, Police and Leeds City Council Antisocial Behaviour Team as a result of end of year celebrations.

Living in local communities means that you are part of a much larger community with very different needs and lifestyles to your own. Hyde Park, Headingley, Little Woodhouse and other neighbouring areas are all established communities with people who live their year on year.

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To help you remain on friendly terms with your neighbours and avoid complaints being made against you, follow our quick and easy tips:

  • Stick to weekends if you are thinking of having a party. Call around to your neighbours in advance to let them know your plans and negotiate a time which the party will continue until. Consider giving your neighbours a mobile number so that they can notify you if the noise levels are reaching an inconsiderate volume.
  • Even a one off noisy party is likely to result in complaints and possible enforcement action.
  • Consider holding celebrations away from your home. Many city centre bars offer rooms which can be booked at no cost.
  • Noise can be a statutory nuisance at any time, day or night, but the hours between 11pm and 8am are particularly noise sensitive.
  • The use of DJ and loud speaker systems are more likely to lead to complaints and enforcement action being taken.
  • Remember noise is a criminal offence. Enforcement Officers enter premises of offenders and seize equipment. This can include hi-fi equipment, docking stations, laptops, televisions, musical instruments, amplifiers etc.

If you are having any problem with a noisy neighbour or any other concern regarding the community in which you live, contact the Universities and Colleges Neighbourhood Helpline service on 0113 343 1064 (24 hour voicemail) or neighbourhood.helpline@leeds.ac.uk.

Watch this space to follow our progress email us at sustainability@leeds.ac.uk if you have any questions!

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