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Who stole summer? Residents fume as noise complaints soar

Updated: Sep 20, 2020

The Noise Pages logged a record number of complaints in July as students unexpectedly moved into their rented houses at a time when the city is normally quiet for the summer.

The tally of 74 entries was the highest monthly total in the website’s two-and-a-half-year existence. It also exceeds the total for all of the first six months of a normal academic year.

Not only that, but many complaints mentioned multiple incidents, so the number of individual noise disturbances was considerably higher, with many residents complaining they’d been kept awake on successive nights.

Just under half of the 74 complaints related to the Chandos area, with Hampton Road in second place.

The vast majority came from east of Whiteladies Road, with only a handful from the Clifton area. (Some resident groups in Clifton are keeping their own tallies of incidents. For example, a group has recently set up in Grange and Mortimer Roads.)

Although the flow of complaints has slowed so far in August (which may mean some students have now gone home), noise disturbances are still happening.

The surge in noise has led to many people calling for the two universities, UoB and UWE, to do more to rein in student behaviour, and for more support from the police and council.

Cotham Hill

Night-time disturbances in the Cotham Hill area have become “intolerable”, according to Jill White, chair of the Hampton Park and Cotham Hill Community Group. She has called for the community liaison officers of both universities to visit students living in the area and warn them to avoid night-time disturbance.

Jill, 78, said in an early-hours email on 6 August she’d just been woken by loud male voices coming from property in the direction of Whiteladies Gate.

“Tonight is the 6th night in the last 14 nights that I have been woken due to loud shouting by clearly drunken or drugged behaviour around this area—sometimes from student flats opposite the front of my house in Hampton Park or as this evening at the back!”

She says she was woken despite keeping her windows closed and wearing ear-plugs. Although she wasn’t able to pinpoint the property from which the noise came, she notes that “we know students occupy the flats along this section of Cotham Hill.”

Recalling her own strong links with the University of Bristol—having given lectures and run music workshops there as a former senior music producer with BBC Radio 3—she adds: “I therefore have a very long view about student behaviour and although we have had spells of disturbances from students living in our communities NOTHING compares with the volume of disturbances I and others of my neighbourhood have suffered this last month!”

The council, police, universities and MPs need to increase resources “to better manage and respond effectively to such public disturbances!” she says. “These night time disturbances are, frankly, bordering on ‘torture’....”

Manor Park

Several residents in Manor Park, a small enclave in Redland with a high proportion of student houses, have also complained about recent behaviour.

“The situation on the street this June and July has deteriorated to the worst disruption I have ever experienced,” one said in an email to UoB on 3 August.

“We are being woken almost every night by the comings and goings of students and their guests.

“Loud groups smoking outside the front of houses, or people arriving and leaving in taxis—doors slamming and engines running—and even a 2am game of street football with a tin can last month. I am so tired and annoyed that it is severely affecting my daily life and I feel sick.”

Another told UoB in an email that student behaviour had been “shocking and an embarrassment to your university”.

He went on to warn: “There is genuine fury in the neighbourhood, and I worry if there is not a sea-change in the attitude of your students to the community they have moved into, then there is going to be a very serious incident.”

A third resident added: “No one is taking any real responsibility for the behaviour of these individuals and I am incredibly frustrated that it seems to be pushed back on residents to socialise these adults (as they want to be seen), when letting agents / landlords, the universities, the council and the police all have a far more legitimate claim to control over them than we do.”

Grange & Mortimer

This is a new group, set up to cover two streets in the Clifton area.

The group's noise log for July details 8 incidents in Grange Road, emanating from just two student houses, and 4 incidents from three properties in Mortimer Road. Issues ranged from loud conversations outside houses late at night to parties that went on as late as 4:45 in the morning.

The notes for one party in Grange Road include the comments: “ … At 01:15 we were woken again, this time the chat was louder, accompanied by laughter. Ditto 02:30. At 03:40 three party revellers returned, chattering away. Our lives are being made a misery, not knowing if we are to get a good night's sleep. …”

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