My End of Year Retrospective of Hyde Park

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Sue Buckle, long term resident of Hyde Park shares her thoughts about the end of term, students departure and how students are viewed by permanent residents.

It’s that time of year again- gardens are lovely with spring blossom and on pavements, black bags overflowing with clothes charity shops would be glad of. The universities terms are nearly over and soon our student neighbours will be on the move.

It’s sad to say goodbye to the students who’ve become friends, even though we’ve never had the promised coffee or drink together due to busy lives.  My immediate neighbours have been great, considerate and friendly, and I wish they were staying another year. The ones on the street who’ve woken people up after midnight with loud, shrieking discussions about who’s going in which taxi or who’ve resolutely refused/forgotten to put their bins back in gardens- we can live without!

So far, Bank Holiday Monday, it’s been pretty quiet with only a few occasional loud boozey voices late at nights. We empathise with the euphoria of ending exams, but if only the lucky ones would remember the poor souls still revising for their exams. Local school children are still revising for their GCSE and A-level exams. Friends from a neighbouring street report “bearable noise” so far, but are bracing themselves for the next few weeks. Even the benefits of Hyde Park Christmas- the piles of discarded clothes, furniture, household items and food- don’t make up for the misery of sleep deprivation. Especially when you have an early start the next day or been told “This is a student area. Why don’t you move?”

Going back to bins- yesterday, walking up Victoria Road with my two adult daughters visiting their old home for the weekend, we had to step around the mess from bins overturned by we assume bladdered idiots on their way home. Festering rubbish including so much discarded food all over the pavement! This morning, three Council staff were picking up and bagging every smelly item- at a cost to the cash strapped Council! In a queue at the Cardigan Road Co-Op recently a friend overheard two students discussion on what a trash heap Hyde Park was. O the irony….

BUT, coming up my street today I chatted to some students who are staying next year, all done with exams apart from one. They’re keeping our recent street-flyer and will be following our tips to pass on their edible food to our Real Junk Food Project down at All Hallows Church, plus any other unwanted stuff which is reusable or recyclable.

When its near to the end of June, my washing machine will be on most days with binned clothes to pass on to charity shops and the South Headingley Community Association table top stall at Kirkstall Festival and Unity Day will benefit from all the stuff that students or their parents cars can’t fit in. Hopefully these will come straight to me, rather than via the bins!

Then it’s a peaceful summer with those of us whose home is here getting the chance to know better the students here over the summer- before October, and another 200+ new neighbours to try to get to know and welcome to the Hyde Park community!

The Hidden 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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What I’m Doing To Celebrate End of Term

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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 end of term.

To celebrate my end of year,  I’ll be going to Inner City Electronic (2nd June). More than 80 artists will be performing at 11 different venues across the city in a celebration of electronic music.  It’s not just about having a party. There will be feature talks, workshops, art and exhibitions. Afterwards we’ll probably head home to relax. 18 hours of partying in town is enough for one weekend!

Looking for ideas on what you can do? Check out the following link which lists what’s going on! https://confidentials.com/leeds/things-to-do

Myth Busting the House Party

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.   

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. 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.

Here are a few more common misconceptions about house parties that I have come across.

1. The noise has to exceed a certain decibel level for action to be taken. NOT TRUE! A sound meter isn’t even used. The University and Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team make an assessment based on who your neighbours are and how noise is impacts on the wellbeing of your neighbours.

2. Action can only be taken over noise that happens at night.  NOT TRUE! Noise is more of a problem for people after 11pm but action can be taken for noise at any time. Even at low levels if you have a neighbour that is more sensitive to noise, such as an elderly neighbour.

3. If I can hear the noise, investigators can take action. TRUE! If the noise is audible outside of your house, there is a good chance it’s loud enough to cause a problem for your neighbours.  Turn the volume down!

4. Having Bouncers will limit the number of people crashing your party and prevent problems with your neighbours. NOT TRUE! Bouncers are more likely to scare off your neighbours when they call around to let you know there is a problem.  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.

5. If you create excessive noise you are breaking the law. TRUE! Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team can take enforcement action that includes the confiscation of equipment, house closure notices, fines and a criminal conviction.

6. If I let my neighbours know that I’m having a party then no action can be taken. NOT TRUE! I would always advise that you speak with your neighbours in advance of having your friends over and share your contact details. However, residential streets are no place for a party that continues past midnight and has over 30 guests at any time!  Your neighbours are still likely to make a complaint if your event is too big, too loud and goes on too late.

7. Its my birthday, a one off party isn’t going to hurt anyone. NOT TRUE! If every student has a house party for their birthday then that means  a lot of parties and a lot of lost sleep! Take your celebrations in to town or book a venue to hold your party.

8. Hyde Park is a student area, its okay to have house parties. NOT TRUE! Hyde Park is home to many different residents. No street is completely student only. We also receive as many complaint from students as other residents about house parties!

9. I moved into a property next to a noisy neighbour so I guess I have to put up with it. NOT TRUE! Let us know if you are experiencing a problem through our Helpline. You may not be the only person affected by the noise!

10. I can’t have my friends over at any time as my neighbours will complaint. NOT TRUE! No one is likely to object to your having your friends over if you do so in a reasonable way. Would you really like to live next door to a party animal if you had to be up for work or lectures at 9am?

For information on the University’s procedures in handling off-campus issues see my earlier Blog for details on the joint action being taken by the Council and Police to tackle noisy parties.

Why Being Noisy Can Land You In Trouble

Noise from celebratory parties is a particular issue in local communities at this time of year. Whilst the University appreciates that students will want to enjoy and celebrate the end of their exams, this should be done in a  way that does not cause distress and disturb nearby residents. The University and Leeds Antisocial behaviour Team have implemented procedures to respond to noisy parties and ensure that everyone is able to enjoy their home without being upset by the actions of others.

How is Noise Nuisance Dealt with?

Noise nuisance has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of those affected. Many factors effect this; frequency, time of day, location, duration and how many people are effected. It is a statutory nuisance at any time, day or night. Noise nuisance is a criminal offence and enforcement action can be taken by the Leeds Anti-Social Behaviour Team against any household which is causing a nuisance.  This could result in a criminal conviction, confiscation of any noise-making equipment, issue a closure order/notice on a property and impose financial penalties.

The Police may take action with respect to any crime and disorder. The team will be providing additional  out of hours patrols in the local area up to the end of June to respond directly to complaints of noise.

The University may also take disciplinary against students whom behave in a way which persistently causes distress to their neighbours and brings into question the reputation of the university. For the University’s procedures see the Neighbourhood Helpline Code.

Tips to Avoid Noise Complaints Being Made Against You

  • Noise can be a statutory nuisance at any time but the hours between 11pm and 8am are particularly noise sensitive. Please be more aware during these times.
  • Regular late-night disturbances, even at weekends, are likely to result in complaints.
  • As a matter of courtesy call around to your neighbours in advance of a party to let them know and agree on an end time.
  • Keeping doors and windows closed, especially in warm weather, will help to limit noise levels.
  • If you or any guests are outside (e.g. having a BBQ, playing sports in the street, smoking or waiting for taxis) please keep the volume to a minimum. Keep equipment away from adjoining walls and raised off the floor.
  • If you play a musical instrument, speak to your housemates and neighbours and agree a time that you can practice without disturbing them or book rehearsal rooms.
  • If you do get a visit from a neighbour, Police or Council Officer, remain calm and polite.

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.

Are your noisy neighbours keeping you awake at night?

If you home life or studies are being affected by a noisy neighbour, help is at hand to get you a good night’s sleep.  The University is working with Leeds City Council’s Antisocial Behaviour Team and the other universities and colleges in the City to minimise noise nuisance in local communities. Whether the noise is a one-off, a regular occurrence, during the day or an evening, you can receive help by reporting the nuisance to the services detailed below. For practical tips on parties to avoid causing any problems for your neighbours and enforcement action, take a look at our Students in Communities webpages. 

Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team

Statutory noise nuisance is investigated by Leeds Antisocial Behaviour Team.  They can be contacted through the following.

Noise that happens during the day:
Complete the online form or call the team on 0113 222 4402, 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Noise that happens at night or at weekends/bank holidays:
The Council operates a night-time response service in partnership with West Yorkshire Police. If the problem is noise outside of office hours, please ring 0113 376 0337. This is available from 6pm to 3:30am. Noise at night-time should only be reported when the noise is occurring. The service availability is subject to demand and although they may not be able to stop the noise for you, they may provide further evidence to back up your allegations.

Universities and Colleges Neighbourhood Helpline

The Helpline is a 24-hour dedicated voicemail and email service operated by the University of Leeds in partnership with Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Trinity University College, Leeds City College and Leeds College of Music.   The Helpline is a service for all members of the local community to help resolve any neighbourhood problems involving our students and to build better relationships between neighbours.

Get in touch with us if your are experiencing any problem with your student neighbours. We can work with you and prevent this from becoming a recurring issueContact Us: by telephone (24hr voicemail service): 0113 343 1064, by Email:  neighbourhood.helpline@leeds.ac.uk , or complete our online form.

 

Sustainability Architect update: Clare

It’s not exactly an easy task, ensuring that every student at a university has the opportunity to access learning for sustainability. Especially at an institution as large and diverse in focus as the University of Leeds. Even more so when you have just 6 hours a week to commit to it…

Yet, when you take a closer look, it’s perhaps a little less enormous than originally anticipated. The information-gathering I did in my first few weeks as an Architect revealed that sustainability already appears quite frequently in certain areas, and through particular mechanisms, of the university curriculum. There are entire programmes with sustainability at their core, including BSc Sustainability and Environmental Management at the School of Earth and Environment and MSc Sustainability in Transport at the Institute for Transport Studies. Some programmes include sustainability modules, and for those students who can chose electives, Discovery module themes include Creating Sustainable Futures. For programmes that don’t include electives, some have had specific modules crafted by the Sustainability Service, like Sustainability in Healthcare for the School of Medicine. Students wanting to focus their dissertation research on a sustainability issue can explore opportunities with the Living Lab.

So it wasn’t going to be a case of starting from scratch, but more accurately, one of highlighting existing initiatives, joining up some dots, developing things further, and perhaps introducing new initiatives where gaps are revealed. All of which necessitates a more detailed picture of what’s already happening. One aspect of creating this picture has involved an audit of modules that include aspects of sustainability. None of my searches for a standardised approach to this sort of audit came up trumps, so I developed my own rule of thumb: if a module covers challenges within at least one of the three pillars of sustainability – economic viability, environmental protection, social equity – or explores how to tackle some of these challenges, it was added to my list. Applying these criteria as I worked through the module catalogues resulted in a list of 192 undergraduate modules and 133 postgraduate modules. Which are not insignificant numbers, but tell us relatively little on their own. To be really useful, we need to know how many students are enrolled on each of these modules, which of them is a compulsory part of a course, and a whole lot of other things. The search for these details is one of the things I’m currently working on, but at an institution as large as this it’s tricky to work out where those numbers can be found, or even if they’re kept in any one central place.

Alongside the module audit, I assisted with the design and running of the second Student Sustainability Conference that took place in February. Hosting 190 attendees, it featured over 30 student presentations, covering everything from sustainable drainage to microplastics, from vegetarianism of the Romantic poets to creative social activism. It’s a particularly important event, as it offers an opportunity to bring these pockets of changemakers together, to share their research, provide support or provide some challenge. Exposure to, and collaboration with, different disciplines is a core aspect of sustainability thinking.

Over the next few months I’ll be thinking more about how to gather insight into the levels of sustainability understanding that students have both at the beginning and at the end of their time at the university. That will give us a better sense of the degree to which the initiatives in place are adding up to a more sustainability-savvy student body. My guess would be that some good progress is being made at the current level of activity, but there’s much more that can be done to ensure that every student graduating from the university is a sustainability champion.

If you have any questions about the above, please get in touch – pccm@leeds.ac.uk