Archive for the ‘WesternEye Articles’ Category

So it’s about that time of the year that those with the funds this summer take a minute and decide on what festival they’re attending. Or is it? With Glastonbury and Oxegen taking a year off and Sonisphere joining the Big Chill in being cancelled, have you decided against festivals this year? Can your purse/wallet not take the punishment? Or (perish the thought) is it your body that cannot hack the 3-5 days or so of absolute annihilation that you put it through? If any of these reasons are ringing any bells then you may be in the population of regular festival-goers that have bowed out this year only to be followed by the festivals themselves.

It appears that Reading and Leeds are going ahead as planned (hopefully at any rate, as I have a weekend ticket for the former) although tickets have not sold out, despite being on sale for over a month now. Am I the only one who can remember these tickets selling out within hours? The days of sitting in front of three screens with five different ticket sites open on each clicking the refresh button over and over? Crashing sites and engaged telephone lines seem to be a thing of the past.

Bestival, Camp Bestival, Download and V festival are among those that are soldiering on and it seems that the former two are some of the very few that are not suffering losses. The independent festivals orchestrated by DJ Rob Da Bank seem to be selling tickets as normal and the independent entrepreneur assures the public that they will not be disappointed and that “we’ll sell out again on both our shows.”

But it seems to be relatively lonely in its confidence of success. Sonisphere and the Big Chill are just some of the bigger festivals that have pulled out due to organisation and ticket sale disasters this year, whilst a host of smaller festivals too have been forced to cancel. Oxegen’s promoters too have stated that, like Glastonbury, they will be taking a year off, despite it being Ireland’s biggest and most popular festival and winning numerous awards. Sources claim that lack of ticket sales are to blame.

It seems that one of the greatest British pastimes for the summer is losing its buzz, and one shouldn’t struggle to fathom why.

The price is obviously a set back; with weekend tickets setting folks back often over £200, the initial intimidation to your bank account is surely something that has put many off. To attempt to combat this, sites such as Ticketmaster have brought in a deposit scheme for Reading and Leeds where customers can pay a 25% deposit for their ticket. Whilst speaking in an interview to NME, Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn stated that:

“It would be lovely to make [tickets] cheaper if it was economically viable but it isn’t… There’s going to be a deposit sale introduced for the March main sale, which will be the first time we’ve done that properly.”

Considering the majority of festival attendees are aged between 16 and 30 this is most certainly a wise move. However, this has not stopped 2012 being one of the worst years for ticket sales.

The spirit of festivals has declined too one could suggest, popstars who do not play instruments and rely on electronics to perform win the heart of the masses who have seen the old five-piece rock band routine all too many times.

Additionally, one of the most prominent factors that ought to be addressed is the tiny event that is being held in Britain this year known as the Olympic Games. An event with the historical magnitude such as this and that none of us will live to see on Britain’s shores again is a convincing diversion from a festival that will be held again a year after. This comes with another 60 events sprouting up to supplement the game; Radio 1 is hosting a weekend in Hackney and is charging a grand total of £0 for 100,000 lucky goers. The versatile line up seems to take Glastonbury’s absence with an appeal to many musical appetites with acts ranging from Rhianna to Enter Shikari and Ed Sheeran to DeadMau5.

Despite these issues, I for one hope that festivals do not die out and hope that they may find the spirit that is dwindling. The magic that was Glastonbury in the 90’s may have gone, where Oasis and Blur fought for control and instead of spending 1/5 of your loan on a ticket one could just climb through a bush, but we as a generation can bring our ingenuity too. And by that I don’t mean Justin Bieber and a rise in unemployment, but bringing something new to the musical table. Music has forever changed and adapted to its society and, therefore, so must its festivals.


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A brief article for the WesternEye Newspaper regarding University accommodation horror stories.

Coming to University is, for many of us, a hybrid of emotions and expectations. There’s the excitement; we’ve heard so much from friends and family, and uni life does seem to be portrayed as partying for a few years with the occasional assignment thrown in (if only!).  Additionally, we have the nerves. Now there are some people who manage to be sufficiently preoccupied with the prior factor that this is not so much of an issue, however, most do have at least some degree of nervous anticipation as they ready themselves to start this new chapter in their lives. Worries are certainly to be expected and are all part of commencing something unknown and novel to us.

Accommodation on the other hand, is one of the contributing factors that we feel is something that worry would be wasted upon. This is something that we have chosen ourselves, been to visit, checked over several times and made an informed decision upon. This is something that should be devoid of worry and give us peace of mind. This is something, which is often rarely the case.

There are few students, I expect, that have not heard at least one horror story from someone about the horrors they faced when moving into new accommodation. Is it as bad as people make it out to be? Do these stories actually have truth behind them? And if so, why is it that letting agencies seem to think that simply because we are students we deserve substandard living conditions?

I’m sure most UWE students will recognise the name of Unite Student Accommodation and will have, perhaps, passed its buildings in the city centre or even been residents of one the many places it has to offer.

Unite boasts a ‘new kind of living experience’ and offers the reassurance that it is ‘with you in mind’. After interviewing a past resident of one their buildings it begs the question: if they have you mind, what do they think of you?

Jason Scott, a previous student at UWE and occupier of a room in what was Waverley House in the centre of Bristol, talks to WesternEye of his experiences.

Jason talks of his expectations of coming to Bristol to study Media and Cultural Studies and tells me that he was eagerly anticipating moving into Waverly House. However, after moving in and attempting to settle, he noticed aspects about the building that did not fully add to his moving in experience.

“There was mould on the ceiling in both bathrooms, and rotted food in the cupboards, sink and fridge/freezer where we found maggots.” He says. “There were lifts, but they never worked, and despite being asked to fill out feedback forms, which we did from day one, there was never any maintenance work and they never once responded to the problems we reported.”

This type of negligence not only comes across as thoughtless, but certainly breaches health and safety regulations, not to mention sanitation.

The pinnacle of this atrocity for Jason, was what happened to the building after he left.

“The building was to accommodate UWE students, however this changed and Bristol University students were to move in. Unite then decided to start work on improving conditions and refurbishing the whole building after we moved out.”

Why is then that Unite believes UWE students do not require the same standard of living as those of Bristol University?

Stephanie Porter, current third year student studying English Literature, speaks to WesternEye about the horrendous living conditions she was subjected to when moving into her flat at the beginning of her second year.

“We’d checked the flat over before we moved in, and everything seemed perfectly fine,” Stephanie says, “it wasn’t until we actually moved in that we saw everything that was wrong.”

The flat that Stephanie moved into was on Baldwin St in the city centre and was owned by Terry Olpin Property Management before she moved in. On the month she moved in, however, the flat was transferred to a private landlord who was unaware of the squalor that lay underneath the face of the flat.

“First of all I noticed that the radiator was hanging off its hinges in my room,” Stephanie says, “and after checking it, it fell off in my hands. The flat smelt awful and it turned out the bin area was just a room in the building that bin bags, some open, were thrown into attracting rats.”

If this type of negligence was not enough, Stephanie went on to divulge elements of the flat that she says she “would not have imagined possible.”

“It was a couple of days in when I noticed water leaking for the cupboard under the sink. It turned out a pipe had burst and to fix it they had simply tied a plastic bag around it. We didn’t think it could get much worse but whilst sitting on the sofa my phone slipped down into the cushion. I reached into it to get it back and I felt all sort of objects within it.”

After questioning Stephanie further on what it was she discovered after pulling back the fabric on the sofa, she was able to produce photographs she took.

“I found what had been smelling so awful,” She says, “There were mounds and mounds of rabbit faeces, cigarette butts and other rubbish in and underneath the sofa. Having being described as a pet free and smoke free flat this was something we did not expect.”

Why it is that companies consider students a gap in the market to exploit when it comes to living conditions, one can only assume. But it certainly is not fair. Simply because students are generally younger, it does not warrant such treatment, or the assumption that we deserve to live in conditions that Jason, Stephanie and many others were subjected to.

We can only hope that conditions improve, and that students do not keep quiet about the treatment they receive. With the thousands of pressures that students encounter throughout their time at university and the anxieties that they have, being treated as sub-standard citizens, unworthy of basic sanitation, is something that is simply unacceptable.

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