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  • Andrew Waller

Police shut down party held despite warnings from university VCs on virus risks

Police shut down a large student party in Abbotsford Road, Redland, in the early hours of Sunday, 12 July, just days after the heads of Bristol’s two universities warned students to follow coronavirus rules or face disciplinary action.

Between 50 and 100 students filed out of the house and several police vehicles attended as officers cleared the street. The area was quiet shortly after 2am.

Before the police intervened, there had been a large, noisy group of people outside the property and beat music was blasting from a hall-floor room packed with people visible from the street. Others were arriving to join the party even as it was being closed down.

A nearby resident said her family was badly affected. “My daughters came through to our room at 1:30am after being awake for most of the night with shouting, screaming and loud music. The crowds were too big for us to go across and pretty intimidating.”

(Updated, 15 July) Investigations by both universities have established that the property’s tenants are students with the University of Bristol, not the University of the West of England, as originally suggested here (and contrary to a police statement).

Lansdown Road

Only half an hour earlier, another student party in Lansdown Road was brought to an abrupt end after a neighbour intervened. For a while there were about 30 to 40 people in the street as those leaving mixed with a large group who had just arrived, hoping to join in.

The parties are potentially an embarrassment for the vice-chancellors of the two universities, Prof. Hugh Brady at UoB and Prof. Steve West at UWE, after they issued a public warning to students on 8 July about breaches of coronavirus regulations. The VCs said students had a “moral duty” to help limit the spread of the virus, and warned that behaviour that “risks lives” would be met with disciplinary action under the universities’ codes of conduct. (See link below.)

In view of the numbers of people involved, it appears both parties are likely to have breached the law on indoor meetings as well as social distancing guidelines. (See link below.)

Hampton Road

The locations of the two parties are less than a half-mile walk from each other in areas on opposite sides of Hampton Road. At around 1am the road was busy with raucous groups of students on the move. Most headed north but one group doubled back via Chandos Road to the Lansdown party.

A senior academic who is frequently disturbed by groups passing her flat has called on the universities—one of them her employer—to take action to protect their own staff as well as the wider community from night-time disruption.

“Last night, between roughly 12 and 1:30, I videoed one group of [students] after another — in anything from pairs to very large groups of 30 or more — carousing their way down Hampton Road: no social distancing, no masks, no care or concern for anyone else. At the same time, there was a huge party at Abbotsford Road that kept me awake until at least 2 am.”

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