Complaints statistics released by the University of Bristol "confirm that we are facing a deteriorating situation and very significant levels of local nuisance," according to Chandos Neighbourhood Association. Fiona McVey, writing to UoB on the group's behalf, adds that "the proposed solutions need to be radical to be effective."
The 2017/18 statistics showed general noise complaints rising 52% to 116 incidents and complaints about parties increasing 24% to 102 across all districts. More than half of all parties took place in Redland, where the Chandos Road area is an acknowledged hotspot because of the density of student houses in adjoining streets.
Fiona's letter was emailed to the university's community liaison officer, Joni Lloyd, and deputy registrar Lynn Robinson, both of whom attended a recent meeting with Chandos residents. The complaints statistics were released by the university a week later at a twice-yearly meeting with residents' groups from across the district.
The letter reads as follows:
Joni, Thank you for the minutes of the July meeting. We discussed these at our recent Chandos Neighbourhood Association committee meeting. The statistics you present surprised us somewhat and give us some concern. Compared to 2016-17, all the figures (with the exception of waste management) have deteriorated:
more students have been involved in the complaints process: 1,776 (2017-18) vs 1,374 (2016-17). This now represents 9.6% compared with 8% in 2016-17 of students living outside halls. Can this really now be considered an insignificant minority?
there has been a significant increase in both noise complaints (52%) and numbers of parties (24%) and Redland has top billing with 60% of all parties occurring in our area. 60 parties implies an average of 2 parties a week during term time in our area.
We note that this resulted in many more meetings with you at Level 2 of the disciplinary process, but we are concerned that only 19 (<20%) households were fined and that none were referred to the DRL or PVC. We appreciate that fining is not intended as a money-making venture, but it does have to be an effective deterrent. At present, it seems that students simply have to appear suitably contrite and persuade you that they were not aware of the University guidelines or Local Rules (and possibly their tenancy agreements). Using the lack of ‘2nd parties at same address’ as surrogate evidence of the effectiveness of the current disciplinary process does not really hold water, given that students themselves have told us they simply decide to have their next party at a different address. We note that the actual amount that the £100 fine is being raised to is still not stated – however, if the vast majority of offending students are not fined anyway, this almost becomes an irrelevance. These statistics indicate that the problem of student noise and antisocial behaviour is not yet being addressed effectively enough. The current sanctions and educational procedures in place did not deter 102 student houses from holding parties this year, causing intolerable nuisance to others in their neighbourhood. We are aware that the University is in the process of exploring solutions, but these statistics confirm that we are facing a deteriorating situation and very significant levels of local nuisance. The proposed solutions need to be radical to be effective – minor adjustments to the level of fine will not reverse the trend. On-site support for local communities at the time of nuisance is even more essential given these statistics if we are to be assured that the University is taking our concerns at all seriously."