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.

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

Sustainability Architect update: Rob

So far my role as a sustainability architect has been really varied and exciting! Together with Josh West (Sustainability Projects Assistant) I have been attempting to build sustainability into laboratory inductions. We have produced a ‘best practice’ checklist that will be circulated to labs soon, allowing for a reference point for sustainability in labs.

I have been involved in an equipment replacement scheme, jointly working between sustainability and the energy department, to replace energy intensive equipment such as drying cabinets and ovens. I have been involved in the data collection process through distributing plug in energy monitors that monitor energy intensive equipment. So far we’ve had a massive response from labs across the University, with multiple schools requesting energy monitors for their equipment. In turn we have collated a good dataset and hopefully, after I have finished the analysis, there will be some beneficial replacements taking place which will result in lower energy consumptions.

A real highlight so far was getting the chance to present at the University of Leeds Student Sustainability Conference, a interesting event with some brilliant ideas. Look out for the conference in 2019! Moving forwards, in 2018 I am keen to focus on getting more student engagement within laboratories (if anyone reading this wants to get in touch please email me!). We will also be focusing on reducing water consumption in labs. 

If you want to get in touch about any of the above please drop me an email – wsdrgi@leeds.ac.uk

Sustainability Architect update: Charlotte

My main deliverables as Student Sustainability Architect have been to conduct a comprehensive review of all the Great Food at Leeds food packaging to ensure that the Catering Services are implementing best practice within the business. Packaging, although essential for food hygiene, has a lot of implications, from its manufacture and the usability, to how it is finally disposed of or reused. It is important to consider these challenges and implications when assessing new packaging types!

Since the publication of the 25 Year Environment Plan by the current UK government, there has been a nationwide surge to reduce plastic-use and to create radical changes in packaging. I have conducted research on the wide variety of packaging types currently in use to see what can be swapped out for more sustainable options, or eliminated completely. I have enjoyed this research, and learnt a lot about the material components and their potential negative impacts. At present, I am currently conducting life-cycle analyses of the types of products used to aid recommendations to the University.

A key part of my job here is to propose solutions which are applicable to the business and can be a real game-changer. Solutions I’ve looked at include; deposit-return-schemes (DRS) and KeepCup libraries. DRS are where consumers pay a small sum (let’s say 10p) on a purchase which is then refunded when they return the item. In the UK, recycling has fallen to 44%, however the Campaign to Protect Rural England estimates that recycling rates would increase up to 98% if we have DRS in place.

Unfortunately there are no DRS machines currently on the market in the UK. To overcome this, I’ve been scoping out international companies with the expertise in this field to building relationships and scope possible future procurement opportunities.

Selling KeepCup’s at the University has been a great success, with over 600 units sold in the first few months of the initiatives launch. Despite this surge around campus, there are some things that could aid in increasing reusable use, such as a KeepCup borrowing scheme for when people may forget to bring theirs into uni. I’m still working on the logistics of how this could work across the cafes and eateries on campus, but hopes are this might end the need to buy a hot drink in a disposable cup!

The next few months will see the launch of the Sustainability Market, which will take place on the 30th of April (watch this space!). This will be an opportunity to chat with students, staff and visitors on what the Sustainability Service are working on around food waste and other initiatives. We want to hear YOUR thoughts of on food packaging and what you think should be a priority. Also, keep an eye out for more questionnaires and surveys dotted around cafes on campus, a great opportunity for you to voice your opinion on what needs to be done to reduce food waste and improve packaging!

If you want to get in touch about any of the above please drop me an email – ee14cd@leeds.ac.uk

Student Sustainability Architect update: Becky

Having completed an industrial placement last year with the Sustainability Service, I’ve really enjoyed working as one of the Sustainability Student Architects during my final year of study.

My role has been to support the development and implementation of a new sustainability engagement programme, and it has been an exciting project to be involved with!  The aim of this programme is to support Schools and Services across campus to develop a unique sustainability action plan for their area which enables them to make positive changes.

We’re currently piloting the programme with numerous teams across campus, which firstly involves meeting with staff to learn more about their area.  The next stage is to run workshops with these teams to conduct a materiality assessment, which considers how their processes link with sustainability and what opportunities there are for improvements, before supporting them to build a sustainability action plan.

Building a programme from the ground up has involved a lot of research and communication (there is a lot to consider!) but it has been great fun and I’m really looking forward to it all coming together. The pilot workshops begin in a couple of weeks, and it’ll be interesting to see what the final sustainability action plans look like.

It’s going to be very busy moving forward – as well as piloting the scheme, we’re planning the overall package for when it rolls out across the University, such as the design, how we incentivise it with rewards and recognition, and how what support we’ll be creating with online resources.  It’s certainly going to be exciting and I can’t wait to seeing the positive changes take shape across campus!

If you have any questions, please get in touch with me at R.M.Ewan@leeds.ac.uk

Sustainability Architect update: Arianna

Sustainability Architect: what is it all about? Five months in this role and no two days are the same!

So much has happened since I took part in the Welcome to Leeds campaign back in October and it has been an exciting learning journey. One of the highlights of the past few months was the launch of SUS IT OUT!, the Sustainability Volunteering Week, in November; we wanted to offer a new, fun way to get involved with sustainability at Leeds, so we created a week-long programme of volunteering “tasters”. Organising a new campaign from scratch was definitely challenging, but it was a great chance for me to take the initiative, share ideas and work closely with the whole team to make the project a real success.

Sustainability never stops and I am ready for new challenges!

We are now busy planning new activities and volunteering opportunities for the spring and summer time – I’m sure there we will provide plenty of good excuses to take a break from books, spend time outside and make a positive impact.

Keep an eye on our Sustainability Volunteers Facebook group or sing up to our Volunteer Bulletin to make sure you don’t miss any news!

Have questions about volunteering with us? Send me an email: A.Griffa@leeds.ac.uk

Sustainability Architect update: Vaishnavi

The architect role I found is quite independent, where I’ve had a supervisor guiding me along the way by voicing my strategy proposals to the senior board, or working closely with me to discuss the feasibility of my ideas, but the majority of the work I was doing was projects I had designed for myself. I was given a lot of freedom, flexibility, resources and was linked in with valuable contacts who helped me accelerate my projects at different stages.

I really enjoyed taking up this one particular project, which included tying the cafes on campus to a company Too Good To Go with an aim to reduce food waste. I was initially conducting intense research in handling food waste by liaising with Living Lab project students and studying case studies of other universities to look at composting. which met with a lot of challenges along the way that were primarily logistical (for e.g moving waste across campus in trucks, hosting a composting facility on campus in a suitable location, etc.).

Halfway through, I realized that perhaps rather than looking at a solution to deal with waste, we could benefit from reducing the amount of waste produced itself, that is where Too Good To Go came into the picture. The app enabled cafes to sell leftover (fresh) meals produced on the same day for half the price before closing hours, which I imagined was exactly what students would buy into (healthy takeaway + cheap food). I drafted a proposal to expand the apps reach from the two cafes on campus already trialing the initiative, detailing the implementation from start to end, which my supervisor submitted to the board and got an approval of! Thereafter, I went along to train café managers to use the app and integrate it into their workflow; garnering an additional business profit of £1,000 for the company, as well as reducing a huge amount of food waste. 

In the next couple of months, alongside Charlotte (another Student Sustainability Architect) I am looking into setting up a Sustainability themed food stall on campus, to spread awareness and engage students with Sustainability related events throughout the year and what they can do to reduce their own impacts. In addition, I hope to solve the problem of food waste in the Refectory and other cafes by designing innovation solutions.

If you want to get in touch about any of the activities I’ve been involved with please email me – bn15v2m@leeds.ac.uk 

Goodbye from Becky

I can’t believe I’m coming to the end of my internship!  This year has really flown by – in September I’ll be back at the University as a student completing the final year of my undergraduate degree in BSc Sustainability and Environmental Management.  This year has been an incredible experience and I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a range of projects covering so many aspects of sustainability.  I’ve certainly learnt a great deal and developed a number of skills along the way.

A highlight of my year has been overseeing Green Impact – it was great to mentor teams throughout the year and watch them achieve their goals.  I was fortunate enough to work with students and staff across campus from a variety of disciplines.

Organising the Sustainability Awards was another fantastic opportunity – I’d never have dreamt that I would plan an event of that scale!  I loved being able to use my creative side to design the awards and programme, and it was exciting to see my hard work come together after months of planning.  I was able to meet and work with so many people around the University, and the evening itself was a lot of fun.

It’s safe to say I’ve packed a lot into my year and I’ve got involved with as many projects as I could – no week was the same!  Some of the projects I’ve worked on include mapping biodiversity on campus, creating an infographic and website for the Easter Shutdown campaign, completing waste audits across campus and assessing the University’s travel data by completing the Scope 3 inventory.  I’ve certainly squeezed a lot in and I’m so glad that I did!

I’ll be back in September as a Sustainability Architect and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way, I look forward to seeing you again.