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Councillor describes 'worst fear', cites escape risks at big parties

Cotham councillor Anthony Negus has called on the university, police, council and fire authorities to join in a "multi-agency approach" to safety risks posed by large student parties.

(Updated 02/04/2019: see below.)

Cllr Negus said the party at Rokeby Avenue on 16 March, attended by more than 150 party-goers, raised a set of issues that "needs to be seen to be tackled".

More dramatically, he declared: "I give notice that this email, and several like it that I've written before, will be submitted to a coroner's court or as part of any enquiry into an accident that I believe to be inevitable so long as nothing is done."

The councillor addressed his email to the University of Bristol, asking for representatives of the other agencies to be invited to UoB's next community liaison meeting. Two such meetings are typically held each academic year; if the normal schedule is followed, the next one would take place in July.

His message was copied to Insp. Lorna Dallimore, who oversees the local neighbourhood police; Christopher Swinscoe, head of the council's Neighbourhood Enforcement team; Tom Gilchrist, of the council's Private Housing Service, which regulates HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupation); and an officer with the Avon Fire & Rescue Service.

Cllr Negus, who was involved in efforts—ultimately unsuccessful—to get the Rokeby party stopped or modified, said: "I want to make a serious point:

"However disruptive and regular is such noise, however criminal it turns out is the mechanism by which these parties are made financially viable, however much anti-social behaviour and damage occurs outside the premises and however much cost has to be covered by the city council and emergency services, each of these events pass. None of this comes close to my worst fear."

"In support of my previously expressed concerns about health and safety where 140+ young people who have imbibed substances are dancing in a 150-year-old house built for four people, I understand that [authorities in Birmingham] issued a report [...] about one such house where the floor failed. While this sounds the worst thing that could happen, in fact the greater likelihood is of there being blockages and trampling on stairs and exits in the event of an emergency in a house not designed to get that number of unfamiliar people out of it quickly.

"Simple risk analysis cries out that these parties are frequent, numbers are large, the houses are old, the smoke detection, warning and escape routes are inadequate and the people involved probably not thinking clearly. ... We are all of us waiting for an accident to happen and yet seem incapable of finding a way to mitigate this situation."

(Updated 02/04/2019: Penultimate paragraph edited to remove reference to Avon Fire & Rescue. Cllr Negus says he now understands the incident referred to was in Birmingham. See additional links at end.)

Related articles:

Updated 02/04/2019 to add additional links, below: The Birmingham link may or may not be the incident Cllr Negus is referring to, but Google searches bring up several references to this case, as well as the Manchester one below. Both were in 2014. A house in Hampton Road, Redland, suffered a broken floor joist during a party in March 2018.



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