SUSU has plans to scrap the Safety Bus that shuttles drunken students home after a night out in the Bevois Valley.
If the motion passes, the Portswood service will be replaced by “trained staff” working outside the clubs to help students get home.
Nightclubs in Bevois Valley (Jesters and Sobar) are taking advantage of the Portswood Safety Bus service by utilising it to negate their duty of care to their customers; negatively impacting upon the welfare of our members.
They confirm that the Safety Bus that runs from campus until late at night will still run and will not be affected by the motion.
The scheme suggests replacing the Safety Bus by ensuring that:
Support personnel are present outside the Nightclubs in Bevois Valley on the regular student nights to ensure students are feeling safe and can get home safely, with the ability to arrange for transport for vulnerable students where this is required and where no other option is available.
When told the service was likely to be scrapped, Nev, bouncer at Sobar, one of the clubs which benefit from the Portswood Safety Bus, said:
This service is a massive help, because sometimes, the taxis will not take them. They just leave them. Before, I’ve even paid both this bus and taxis to take people home, because you can’t leave them. We’ve paid for people to get home and I know that Jesters has done the same.
If they do stop doing it I think we would perhaps consider, on our busy nights, getting a private vehicle. I think what they fail to realise is that students predrink full stop.
His sentiment was echoed by Nick Green, who runs Jesters:
Students get drunk, they always have and they always will. By putting stricter control on pubs and clubs will only encourage more students to drink unsupervised at home.
This particular trend has already began with the so called ‘preloading’ resulting in my opinion in higher cases of antisocial behaviour as the are having parties in residential areas.
The government should either ban alcohol for under 21 year olds or just accept it for what it is. Especially in Southampton. Without the students there would be nothing here.
He did however suggest there is currently a climate of irresponsibility which should see the safety bus scrapped:
These days, halls staff complain to the univerisity, the university complain to the police and the police have to act. If we could go back to the old system, great.
Sadly, the way thing are at the moment with nobody being responsible for their own actions, the University have no choice but to scrap the safety bus and I agree.
Will Pearson, Safety Bus driver, is worried over the proposals and has emailed VP Welfare Beckie Thomas expressing his concern.
Graduating this year, he affirms that his “opinion is unbiased and based purely on what I believe to be in the best interests of SUSU and the student population”. He wrote in the email:
[The proposal] points out that it is SUSU’s purpose to “protect our members by ensuring they are well supported to take responsibility for their own wellbeing and safety on a night out”. The Safety Bus is precisely this support. I don’t believe any student goes out at the start of the night thinking: “I’ll get really drunk tonight and it’ll be fine because the safety bus will be there”.
Of course, in an ideal world everyone would take responsibility for their own wellbeing, but in the real world you must accept that students will occasionally drink too much to be able to look after themselves properly, and this is for most students (fortunately or unfortunately) a part of growing up at university.
In response to SUSU’s suggestion that “trained support personnel” will ensure students “are feeling safe and can get home safely”, Will wrote:
What will “trained support personnel” be able to do with a drunk student who can’t stand up? Carry them home? Furthermore, what are the provisions for these personnel? Are they expected to stand outside on the road in Bevois Valley in all weathers? Do they have access to a toilet? I would also suggest that they may be a potential target for abuse or assault themselves.
Finally, I find it hard to see how [the] proposal doesn’t “negate the nightclubs’ duty of care to their customers” to an even greater extent.
VP Welfare Beckie Thomas responded to criticism of the policy:
The policy has been written to secure the Highfield service as [there] was nothing in place to secure it before. Also that the policy does not say that we will remove the Portswood service. It states the minimum level of support that we will provide.
Along with the plans to cut the Safety Bus, the Union Council’s agenda also shows a request to approve funding for a “common room style” social area in Bar 2, and the construction of the Recruitment Agency, with a total cost of over £50,000 between them.
What do you think of the proposal? Let us know in the comments below.