Leeds “bag o’chems” house party shut down before 300 revellers arrive

The scene of the planned Richmond Avenue house party. 24th March 2015. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

The scene of the planned Richmond Avenue house party. 24th March 2015. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

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A massive Leeds house party where more than 300 invited guests were told to bring drugs and alcohol has been shut down by police.

The all-night event in student-friendly Headingley, which was to take place last Friday and Saturday, was advertised on Facebook as featuring “resident DJs”.

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Guests were invited to bring “a bag o’chems”, referring to drugs, and a high-powered sound system was believed to be being brought in.

A notice has now been served at the property, meaning that from 10am on Friday only the tenants will be allowed in the property and anyone else there could be arrested.

Residents in the area, which has a large student population, welcomed the move today, with one claiming previous house parties attended by dozens of people had caused noise and disruption.

After taking legal advice, a temporary closure under anti-social behaviour legislation was applied for at court by community safety partnership Safer Leeds, made up of West Yorkshire Police and Leeds City Council officials.

The scene of the planned Richmond Avenue house party. 24th March 2015. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

The scene of the planned Richmond Avenue house party. 24th March 2015. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Police then attended the property in Richmond Avenue to serve the notice to the tenants, who were also served with noise abatement notices. Letters from Leeds City Council’s licensing department were also hand delivered to the tenants.

The closure notice placed conditions that from 10am on Friday only the tenants would be allowed in the property over the next 24 hours and made it an arrestable offence for anyone else to be there.

If they had gone ahead with the party police were prepared to apply for a closure order, which would give further powers to board up the property and temporarily evict the tenants.

A note about the party posted on Facebook said: “Yo yo brap brap to all those groovers, shakers and snappy dressers, the hipsters, hippies and gangsters alike.

The scene of the planned Richmond Avenue house party. 24th March 2015. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

The scene of the planned Richmond Avenue house party. 24th March 2015. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

“To celebrate the death and resurrection of our lord and saviour (hallow be thy name) we are having a big worship, through the art of dance. Bring your friends and a bag o’chems. Resident DJs are in the works so clear the calendar.

“The communal wine’s on tap at che’ Richmond (p.s. the wine isn’t on tap. Who the hell do you think we are? RICH?! Bring booze. You’ll need it).”

Superintendent Sam Millar of West Yorkshire, who heads Safer Leeds, said: “There were very genuine concerns that if this event had been allowed to go ahead it would have been a significant source of noise and anti-social behaviour causing serious disruption and disturbance throughout the night to people in the vicinity.

“The open references to the planned consumption of drugs was also a real cause for concern.

“As soon as the event was brought to our attention, we took swift action to put legal measures in place to stop it going ahead and to provide the basis for further legal action if the conditions were ignored.

“We are pleased that our actions were successful and the event didn’t take place. I’m sure our efforts will be appreciated by the other residents of Richmond Avenue and the neighbouring streets who did not have to suffer the noise and anti-social behaviour that was likely to have resulted if the party had gone ahead unchallenged.”

One local resident, who did not want to be named, told the YEP today: “They are right to shut it down. It’s not safe. Something like that, it’s not fair on bars and nightclubs that have a licence for music and licence to have door staff – it’s controlled, safe.

“Safety is key. That’s why people have a venue and not a house for that many people. It disrupts the neighbours, it’s not fair on them – people who have to get up and go to work. It could affect them.

“Yes, it can cause trouble in the sense of people making mess for starters. There can be noise nuisance, litter everywhere.

“When people start getting drunk or taking drugs then they start damaging property, cars and things.

“They don’t care because they’re not living here, they’re just visiting. Even for some of the people that are renting round here it’s like a holiday home in a way. They’re only here for uni.

“I think landlords need to be informed as well so they know. The students have contracts that are in place saying they can’t do this or that. It’s the students’ responsibility, not the landlords’.

“They’re here to study, and they’re here to have fun but then they are the ones not paying council tax yet they’re the ones that cause the most rubbish, need the police and ambulance the most.

“There are residents paying council tax and getting a worse service because of it. Students generally don’t cause trouble it’s just at nights when they’re drunk.

“These sort of things have happened in the past, and I’ve phoned the police when there’s been a big house party – not in the same place, this is going back a couple of years so it won’t be the same students or anything.

“Police have driven past them and not done anything, even when there’s like 50-100 people. 20-30 people in a house then fair enough. They’ve done something about this one.

“Someone’s stepped in and done something about it. In the past when I’ve phoned the council, for noise nuisance or whatever, they’ve said ‘we’ll send someone out’, and I’ve noticed police are driving round far more but nothing’s majorly done about it.

“It has caused problems in the past. At least this one, they’ve got on top of it before the problem.

“Maybe they should have somewhere that local people can ring so we can get in contact with the right people.

“If you hear something going on and you get in contact now, it just gets lost in translation sort of thing. Police are busy on Friday, Saturday night.

“They’ve got enough on their plate. If something’s going on they don’t need additional stuff to deal with.”

Neil Walshaw, a Labour councillor in Headingley, the planned party was “completely unsuitable”. He said: “I am pleased that through working with the police we have been able to stop this large-scale party going ahead.”

Lauren Farrow, 20, a University of Leeds student who has lived on Richmond Avenue for a year, said: “I’ve not noticed anything in the past. I think it might be a one off. Normally it’s every Friday and Saturday night that everybody has pre-drinks.

“I’ve never seen masses of people hanging around the houses or anything. It’s not normally bad around this bit.

“I’ve not had any problems with any disturbances or anything really. You do see police cars but that’s it.”

Tracey Maynard, 40, a full time carer, who lives on Richmond Avenue up the road from the party, said residents didn’t get too much trouble from the students.

She said: “Occasionally freshers week gets a bit rowdy and occasionally at the weekends but once the double-glazing is closed you don’t hear it.

“I don’t see how they could fit 300 people into a house to be fair. They’re not big houses. Lots of people have said ‘you must get loads of trouble, loads of noise’ but we don’t, not from the students.

“I’m pleased they have shut it down if that was going to happen though. The kids wouldn’t have been happy.”

FORWARD LEEDS: Pictured (left to right) Bill Owen, early intervention and prevention manager, and Ben Holden, early interention and prevention Worker.

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