The Daily Echo today reported on Southampton University Students’ Union application to extend The Cube’s opening hours, highlighting local residents’ concern about the licence.
The Students’ Union will find out in a hearing next Tuesday whether their application to extend opening hours for The Cube from 2am to 3am on Friday evenings will be successful. It is planned to use the later opening hours for the Union’s new ‘Twisted’ night.
The local newspaper has reported that the Highfield Resident Assocation has called the move as being made in ‘bad faith’. The Association’s chairman Jerry Gillen said: ‘The community is incensed and outraged. We consider it as an act of […] bad PR. They [students]will be waking people up at 3am instead of 2am. If they don’t withdraw the application we will seek a full review of their licence.’
SUSU have submitted the application in an attempt to draw more students to its venue on Highfield campus, and have been granted temporary 4am licences for particular nights at The Cube before. The venue is promoted by the Union as providing ‘cheaper, closer, safer nights out’.
Students have been surprised by local residents’ reaction to the licence application, and the claim from the newspaper that ‘residents are worried about an increase in late-night noise and drunken students vandalising cars and fences.’ One student told The Wessex Blog: ‘It’s never rowdy leaving The Cube. Students know that there are residents living nearby and try to be sensitive about that. I’ve always found that students leave quite quietly, and I’ve never seen any anti-social behaviour like vandalisation on the way home.’
Student’s Union President, Billy Fitzjohn pledged to make The Cube one of the main things to tackle during his sabbatical year running the Union. The History graduate has made efforts so far this year to extend good relations with the local community. In his welcome letter to new students who will be arriving at the end of the summer, the 21 year old who represents around 25,000 students at the University, said: ‘Please remember that you aren’t the only people who live and work in Southampton. Don’t forget to stay quiet as you walk home from a night out. As Southampton residents, its important for us to maintain the good relationship we have with our neighbours.’
History and Politics student Aaron Bali thinks that locals’ worries are ‘unfounded’. He commented: ‘Considering that students will go out into the early hours, regardless of the venue, doesn’t it make sense that the Students’ Union (a body designed to represent the students, which inherently has their safety – and it’s own reputation at heart) provides a safer, healthier and quieter alternative than the incredibly cheap places in Portswood or the city centre? Given that the Union President has agreed that there will be marshalls on the streets to reduce noise, and that safety buses will be used to ferry students to and from their residences and the venues, is this not a much better option than before?’
Bali, who is the Union’s Environment & Ethics Officer continued: ‘SUSU staff and student volunteers held an open consultation meeting with local residents. It was anticipated that local residents would show up to air their views and concerns so that SUSU could respond to them accordingly and potentially reconsider it’s licensing application. Attendance was limited to one local police officer – no local residents or heads of residents associations attended. Are SUSU really at fault for acting in ‘bad faith’ here, given that they did as much as they could to reconcile the needs of local residents with their constituent students?’
Students and local residents await the outcome of the hearing on the late-licence application next week with anticipation. Union President Billy Fitzjohn will present the Union’s case alongside lawyers, Vice President (Welfare & Societies) Emily Rees, and a member of the Union’s events department.