'It's like being on Prince of Wales Road' - calls for Norwich university students to respect communities
PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 June 2018 | UPDATED: 15:25 18 June 2018
People living near a Norwich university have said they are fed up with late-night noise and litter, as they call on students to respect their communities.
Residents of west Earlham, near the University of East Anglia (UEA), say broken bottles, rubbish and noise in the early hours of the morning is making life a misery – with a handful saying they feel forced to move elsewhere.
But students in the area say they are not solely to blame – and the UEA says, while it takes all complaints seriously, that its students offer a valuable contribution to the community.
Roughly 11,000 of UEA’s 17,000 students live off-campus, and UEA said they advise those moving into private housing about litter, noise and parking.
But Lisa Gowing, who lives on Friends Road, said despite living in the area since childhood, she was considering relocating.
“It becomes like the strip of west Earlham, and sometimes it’s like being on Prince of Wales Road,” she said. “There’s broken glass everywhere at times and the amount of cans and bottles is disgusting.”
She said some blame should be put on the landlords, who she said often took little responsibility.
One person on Wakefield Road said there was often double parking, overflowing bins and “singing, shouting and screaming” after nights out.
But Deborah Sharp, who lives in west Earlham, said while previous neighbours had been an “absolute nightmare”, the current students next door were very considerate, giving her notice of parties.
After residents posted a note around the local area asking students to be respectful, one replied with a reminder that only a minority caused problems. A second reply, from student Matt, offered an olive branch in the form of a community litter pick.
He said the problems were not all students’ fault, citing an increase in littering around Norwich in general, which he said could signal a need for more bins.
A Freedom of Information request shows UEA received 210 complaints over anti-social behaviour and noise for students living off-campus from 2010/11 to 2015/16.
The university said they worked closely with various bodies, supported the Good Neighbour Scheme and took complaints seriously, with their community liaison officer on hand to help.
“Ensuring that our students respect the local community and its residents is of utmost importance to us,” they said. “We are proud that our university is part of the wonderful city of Norwich and our students contribute lots to the community, including volunteering and setting up social enterprises.”
War of words
A note to UEA students urging them to show respect to neighbours was posted around the area.
It asked students to dispose of litter safely, warned that children and animals could be hurt by broken glass and reminded students to keep noise to a minimum.
It said “drunken students’ behaviour” and noise was becoming a “major concern”, and was signed off from residents of west Earlham.
It was met by a second note, from a “noisy, littering alcoholic and downright politically ill-informed student resident of west Earlham”, who said they felt “personally attacked”, and that shovelling blame on the student population was “frankly ridiculous”.
They said students were not “wholly void of blame”, but reminded the original poster that it was only a minority of students.
And finally, a third note, written by Matt, asked west Earlham residents to ignore his “vulgar peer”, and said it was a real shame there had been an increase in littering. They said they would be happy to meet on Sunday morning, with bin bags, to do a sweep of the area and clear up some of the litter.
The issues seem to vary from house to house.
We visited Friends Road on Saturday morning – arguably probably not the best time to see any problems in action – and found a quiet, relatively well-kept street.
Opinions of people we spoke to seemed split – while several said they’d had difficulties with late-night noise and frustration over rubbish and bottles, a similar number said they’d experienced little trouble.
One person said they let a student park in their drive, and another said their neighbours always gave them warning of parties.
And a group of students we saw heading home from campus said while they were yet to have any difficulty with their neighbours, they knew of friends who’d had notes through the letter box.
“It’s a balancing act,” one said. “Part of university life is meeting new friends and having a good time.
“But people obviously want to have a good quality of life in their own homes.”