We interviewed the man behind The Noise Pages to answer all your questions
‘I don’t go running to the door with my crusader banner flying’
Andrew Waller, founder of The Noise Pages, has been making a name for himself amongst the undergraduates living in the areas around the University of Bristol by his close and careful monitoring of noise, typically caused by house parties.
Andrew has lived down his road for about 12 years and he says that ‘thinking back the first seven years I don’t remember being bothered by noise, then in 2013 there was a rash of noisy parties near me which led to a public meeting between residents and the university’. That was the first point at which Andrew realised that ‘noise is an issue’ from listening to stories from residents in the area at the time.
Over the next few years there were a few parties near him but at the time it ‘wasn’t making my life miserable’. This changed in early this year –Andrew started The Noise Pages specifically because ‘in the first weekend in March there had been two very noisy student parties on consecutive nights quite close to where [he] lives, and that was a bit of a new thing’.
In both cases, Andrew left his home about 1 am to talk to the students, where he told them the university guidelines state that parties should be finished by midnight on weekends. According to Andrew, the students running the first party said they knew all this and 'weren’t bothered', which Andrew described as an ‘unwelcome development’ and a response that he hadn’t received before. After this, he called 101 who 'gave no help', these events led to the creation of The Noise Pages.
Andrew was keen to make the point that he ‘doesn’t want to be the noise policeman for Redland’, despite this it seems to be the role that he’s taken on for himself, as he explains his process when he receives a noise complaint. He described how in recent weeks he has received several fake house party reports which he assumes are from students, but he first checks to see if the property is ‘a licenced house of multiple occupancy’ (HMO) as most student houses are.
He goes on to make the further point of rarely actually visiting the house in question himself, saying that he ‘doesn’t go running to the door with my crusader banner flying’, this is despite the belief amongst some students that suggests that he turns up to every disturbance himself every night. Finally, Andrew explains how he only reports a house party if it directly affects him, preferring to direct residents with problems to report to UoB or UWE themselves, and if he has enough reports from other residents he will send a supporting note.
Despite many students being less than enthused with The Noise Pages potentially putting an early end to a party (as evidenced by fake reports, likely from students, claiming there is a house party where there isn’t, which Mr Waller claims to be able to spot due to 'slightly different language and sentence structure'), or having their party posted online for all to see, Mr Waller is keen to stress that he doesn’t have an issue with students having fun, and provided that parties don’t cause distress to anyone else who isn’t involved.
There is currently no formal mechanism that is used to shut down house parties as police are unlikely to step in, and the council, according to Mr Waller, 'rarely exercises its powers'. When asked about an ideal scenario, Mr Waller said he would 'like to see university security services operating a door knocking service', and that 'the council, the university, and the police are in denial over the issue' and that this was causing some 'quite acute distress in some cases.'
Regardless of whether students support The Noise Pages or not, the overwhelming responses and support from local residents show that many share Andrews concerns, and therefore something needs to be done. The university has been slow to act and the current feeling amongst residents appears to be 'too little too late', and it remains to be seen if UoB will take a more hard-line approach in the future.