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

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

The Bee Network – what a buzzing opportunity!

Bees, I have always had a soft spot for them. I was that weird fearless child who would push past my screaming mother with a glass and card to save that panicked little bee who just couldn’t figure out why the window wasn’t a passageway to the outside world again. From a very young age, I have always respected animals and found them absolutely fascinating.

As a recent Zoology graduate from the University of Leeds, I learnt even more about the importance of bees, not only for the maintenance of our ecosystems, but also to provide us with food via crop pollination. It wasn’t until I was lectured by an academic here that I heard about the three hives on campus and I knew I wanted to be involved with the Beekeeping Network as soon as possible. Protecting our bees is so important, especially as their population numbers are crashing due to increased urbanisation, pesticide use and introduced disease. Beekeeping benefits our bees by helping to re-establish their colonies and can improve local pollinator rates which in turn has a huge positive impact on your “feeling sorry itself” garden. We of course get a taste of locally sourced honey which is special in itself, and this of course reduces the demand for imported stock that has travelled a long distance, therefore cutting back on carbon emission impacts. There really wasn’t any reason why I didn’t want to sign up!

The first meeting took place in February where I was met with a lot of friendly faces including Jen Dyer. It was rather wonderful being in a room full of people who all wanted to be a part of something that benefited our bees as well as themselves. A few slides were presented to us that gave an overview of the colony structure and included some photographs of the hives from previous years. I never actually realised how many bees can fit inside a hive, it’s madness! A virtual hive was used during this session instead of a real one as the colder months leave the bees feeling very sleepy and inactive. This virtual hive wasn’t the most techy, yet still very informative. It consisted of a wooden box that contained several sliding panels with various pictures of the hexagonal structures inside. We were asked to identify which hexagonal cell contained honey, wax, eggs or diseases such as chalkbrood, a fungal disease that attacks the eggs and larvae. This triggered a lot of discussion and interaction which was fantastic as we were all able to learn from each other. We were informed that with the following months comes the buzzing activity and honey harvesting, so bring on the warmer weather!

I have now signed up to the Beekeeping Network newsletter and avidly follow their Facebook page which provides activity updates and general bee news. Feel free to contact Jen Dyer at j.dyer@leeds.ac.uk if you wish to find out more! It’s time to save our bees!

Written by Emily Rampling (Administration Assistant – SCAPE)

Progressing Campus Sustainability: The University of Leeds joins the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN)

The University of Leeds has joined the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN), a global network of universities committed to holistically integrating sustainability into campus operations, research and teaching.

“The University of Leeds is proud to be an international university which has sustainability at the heart of what we do. Being part of the ISCN will allow us to further enhance our dialogue and knowledge about best practice in sustainability and to be part of a global education community working to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.” Sir Alan Langlands, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds

The International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) provides a global forum to support leading colleges, universities, and corporate campuses in the exchange of information, ideas, and best practices for achieving sustainable campus operations and integrating sustainability in research and teaching.

In 2009, the ISCN partnered with the Global University Leaders Forum (GULF), a World Economic Forum initiative bringing together the heads of 26 top global universities, to develop the Sustainable Campus Charter, which organizes campus sustainability into 3 core principles, requires a commitment at the highest level of the institution, and includes annual reporting on sustainability goals, initiatives, and performance.

To date, over 90 Members represent top-tier colleges and universities from over 30 countries across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

“We are delighted to welcome The University of Leeds into the ISCN and look forward to providing a platform for international value exchange and partnership on campus sustainability,” says Bernd Kasemir, Secretary of the ISCN Board.

For more information on the ISCN, please visit: http://www.international-sustainable-campus-network.org