Fluffy bunny fantasy of the ghetto 2

July 7, 2006

Please add Bristol to the list of cities suffering badly from the wholesale takeover of previously well-balanced residential streets. The most potent symptoms are loud student parties that go on all night, but there are many other examples, including verbal abuse of residents, shouting and swearing in the street and gardens. Much of the noise nuisance occurs when students return from clubs in the small hours.

Of course it is only a small minority of students who are serious offenders, but bad behaviour is infectious, particularly in streets where the student community dominates. The interests of other residents, including families, is at best ignored and often ridiculed.

Student landlords and letting agents do the absolute minimum. Many totally neglect frontages and gardens and fail to ensure that tenants use refuse services properly and do not regularly block pavements with their overflowing bins. And their properties do not even incur council tax. They are such a good investment that when residents are driven out it is always student landlords, including parents, who are the buyers.

We are not anti-student, but the current situation is leading to considerable resentment of universities among affected residents. Of course universities bring much to the city, but they must accept the downside, and use their authority and skill to help mitigate the problem.

Simply saying that students are independent adults is no longer enough. A determined effort by all parties could at least moderate the antisocial consequences, but the critical structural problem, the colonisation of mixed and balanced streets by students - studentification - will be harder to crack.

Roger Mortimer

Redland & Cotham Amenities Society, Bristol

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