Words: John Baron
Additional reporting: Richard Beecham, local democracy reporter
A new service tackling anti-social behaviour and noise in Headingley, Hyde Park, Little Woodhouse and Burley launched this week – thanks to a unique partnership between the council and the city’s two biggest universities.
The dedicated service is a national first, with Leeds Beckett University and University of Leeds funding overnight patrols, seven days a week, by council response officers.
The officers will work exclusively on noise and anti-social behaviour issues. They will carry out patrols to identify and stop potential issues from escalating while also providing capacity to respond to more calls, more quickly.
The partnership will provide additional call-handling capacity at weekends and during peak times throughout the year, including Freshers’ week and end of assessments.
In what is a significant investment by the universities, as well as a major commitment by the partnership to improve the communities, the service is supported by a new Community Coordinator to keep the service working and improving efficiently.
The partnership will monitor and regularly share updates on the performance and impact of the service, and hold termly meetings with residents’ association leaders.
This new venture builds upon the Leeds Universities and Colleges’ long-established Neighbourhood Helpline service and Enhanced Noise Service.
Community members can also join a network of ‘key individuals’ to complete short, regular feedback surveys to help to develop the service. Please e-mail email@example.com if you live, work or run a business in the area and can spare a few minutes every month.
Councillor James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“While universities make an incredibly positive contribution to Leeds’ culture and economy, we also recognise that some issues can arise in all communities with a student population.
“While these issues are not unique to Leeds, our response is. The dedicated service is a national first, building on years of partnership and listening to communities.”
Professor Peter Slee, Vice Chancellor of Leeds Beckett University, said:
“Leeds’ 70,000 students contribute significantly to the city’s economy and the majority play a positive role in their communities. This service recognises community concerns over the minority that behave inappropriately, and strengthens the partnership’s ability to respond to and deal with that behaviour.”
Professor Simone Buitendijk, vice chancellor of the University of Leeds, added:
“Together with our other partners across the city, we recognise the significant impact that noise and anti-social behaviour can have in the communities in which our students live.
“The introduction of this dedicated service is an important step forward for our collective approach in preventing as well as responding to these issues.”
In spite of the new dedicated patrol service, there are no changes to how anti-social behaviour and noise nuisance are reported.
- 5pm to 4am every day – 0113 3760337
- Between 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, or if you do not require an immediate response, call 0113 222 4402
- You can also report online using the council’s web form for anti-social behaviour and noise nuisance
E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you live, work or run a business in the area and are interested in joining a network of ‘key individuals’ and giving feedback, which should take no longer than a few minutes every month.
Clearing up student waste discussed by councillors
A Leeds city councillor claimed student areas of Leeds were “an absolute state” when it comes to waste management, and called on landlords to shoulder more responsibility when it comes to clearing up mess left each year.
The comments came during a discussion on how to improve the quality of the private rented sector in Leeds during the council’s Environment Scrutiny Committee.
A presentation by council officers stated that around 3,000 houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) were currently licensed in the city, and that the upcoming new licensing period would allow the introduction of “minimum conditions” around issues like waste.
However, the meeting was also told that the powers would be limited when it came to targeting landlords for not doing enough to help avoid large-scale problems with waste in public areas.
Coun Kayleigh Brooks (Lab) said: “In the inner northwest area, we have an issue with waste and landlords not carrying the weight – especially for what we call ‘Hyde Park Christmas’.
“There is currently no way of removing a HMO licence because of mess left behind, but it will be possible when mandatory waste conditions come in?”
“Hyde Park Christmas” is an informal name given to a period during late June and early July when students on one-year tenancies move house. It can often lead to an almighty waste cleanup operation in parts of Leeds with large student populations such as Hyde Park and Headingley.
For a house to contain three or more tenants forming more than a single household, landlords must gain a HMO licence ensuring the house is safe to live in.
Leeds City Council’s head of private sector housing Mark Ireland responded to Coun Brooks: “To remove any licence we would have to have a reason for doing it. Someone not simply addressing waste would probably not be sufficient for us. We would have to have systematic evidence.
“For us to remove a licence we would have to demonstrate that the person is not fit and proper. To do that, there would be certain criteria we would have to follow.
“Ultimately if a landlord does everything that is reasonable, it would be difficult to prosecute them if the tenant persisted, because ultimately it is the tenant’s responsibility in legislation available to the council.
“To ban a landlord we need to prosecute them twice in 12 months within certain offences.
“If we find the landlord is persistently flytipping, we can use that evidence to say ‘we don’t believe they are a fit and proper person’.”
Coun Brooks responded: “I don’t see any point in mandatory waste conditions being included if we can’t take any action against the landlords. What exactly is the level of proof we need?
“The northeast (sic) is an absolute state and you have seen it, and you know it, and it is costing the council a lot of money to clear it up.
“I know we are spending money to try and tackle it. We need to do something about it.”
Mr Ireland said: “It’s laid down in legislation. We can’t hold someone accountable for the behaviour of someone in their property – you can only hold them accountable for the actions they take to address those.”