Leeds Council Considers Banning Public Drinking and Street Parties in Student Areas

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Friday and Saturday nights strolling around Hyde Park with a bottle of Barefoot bouncing between house parties could soon be a thing of the past. This is after a new proposed Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) is being considered by Leeds City Council. 

The PSPO will ban street parties, public drinking and drug-taking and other forms of anti-social behaviour in an area that predominantly includes Hyde Park and Headingley as well as Woodhouse and Burley.

The area also includes Woodhouse Moor which is a popular day-drinking destination for students in May and June. Every year significant levels of plastic and metal cans are left across the park.

Image Credit: Reddit

As well as stricter controls on anti-social behaviour, the new order would make it an offence to breach rules on household waste.

The council has claimed that they would like to make significant improvements to the area not only through formal enforcement but also through a behavioural change programme and face-to-face engagement.

The proposed PSPO has come after concerns from residents and local firms about increasing levels of anti-social behaviour and waste in the Hyde Park area.

Residents in Headingley last year complained of feeling scared to leave their homes after a 12-hour long student party. Locals have also expressed concerns regarding waste in the area, with local residents referring to Hyde Park as a ‘rat paradise’ when students departed for summer last year. 

Nevertheless, schemes like #LeaveLeedsTidy have helped reduce the level of waste in Hyde Park, Headingley and Woodhouse at the end of the academic year.

Leeds Beckett Student’s Union has opposed plans by the council to introduce these stricter controls, saying they would unfairly target students. They suggested instead a long-term solution for excess household waste.

Jess Carrier, the Union’s Welfare and Community officer said the waste issue was down to overcrowding in the area and should therefore be tackled through infrastructure as opposed to placing the responsibility all on students.

Students are also sceptical about the ban, with one fourth-year student claiming it would ‘ruin the fun, but on a serious note, drinking on the streets and street parties are part of University culture and introducing a PSPO would introduce rules and curfews which don’t promote independence’.

Another student believes that “the fairly-open UK drinking culture encourages safe drinking by not making it taboo. However, if it’s banned on the streets, drinking will become more taboo and people will rebel against the rules”

Others said they disagreed with parts of the ban but agreed that certain anti-social behaviour needed to be tackled, ‘drinking on the streets or carrying around open bottles of alcohol isn’t a problem if you’re responsible with it,’.

Others disagreed with the alcohol bans but agreed that waste around the Hyde Park and Headingley area needed to be tackled though. Two Leeds Beckett fourth-year students said they understood why the PSPO has been proposed but questioned how it would be enforced and sustained.

Which areas will be affected?

This is a map of the area where the proposed rules would be enforced.

Image: Leeds City Council
The area contains Woodhouse Moor, Hyde Park, part of Burley and Headingley. Image: Leeds City Council.

What would be prohibited if the PSPO were to be introduced?

  • Consumption of alcohol in the restricted area.
  • Holding an open container of alcohol in a public space.
  • Using intoxicating substances in a public space, not including tobacco or vaporisers used for medicinal reasons.
  • Encouraging, promoting or carrying out a street party. 
  • Gathering in groups of two or more and engaging in anti-social behaviour.
  • Dumping household rubbish on the street and not recycling/disposing of it correctly.

How much would the fine be?

Those found drinking alcohol in public and refusing to hand it over may be fined up to £100.