Noise level in Bonn's Old Town "It's never been as bad as it is now”

Bonn · On Thursday evening, a discussion with city officials and police about the noise level and garbage in the Old Town sometimes got loud and emotional. Many residents feel that these problems have been ignored for a long time. But there are solutions.

 A summer scene from the Old Town in Bonn.

A summer scene from the Old Town in Bonn.

Foto: Meike Böschemeyer

"Why do people do this to me?", shouted a resident of Heerstrasse after reporting on the noise disturbances outside his front door, which often left him with only five hours of sleep. This was not the only time that things got a little heated during the night mayor's discussion with residents, police and the public order office on Thursday evening. The subject was the noise level in Bonn's Altstadt (Old Town). Some people are apparently very distressed, complaining of too much noise. Around 30 people came to the discussion at the senior citizens' meeting center on Breite Strasse. Many of them have lived in the Old Town for a long time.

They reported various issues: night-time noise that carries up into the apartments, broken glass and vomit lying on the street for days on end, people urinating in the street, harassment, empty laughing gas bottles in entrances, some restaurants not adhering to the closing time for outdoor dining. "It's never been as bad as it is now," said one resident, who says she has lived in the Old Town for 62 years. One man wondered why things were so much better in Südstadt despite the pubs. "I believe that the interests of local residents have been ignored for a very long time. It's an incredible strain on us," said a woman.

After a first public meeting in November, where many noise complaints were discussed, night mayor Achim Kettemer invited Sascha Hessenbruch from the public order office and the police commissioner responsible for the area, Michael Skutnik to a meeting. Three restaurant owners had planned to be there but were unable to attend for various reasons. Kettemer began by explaining that he had spoken to the operator of the Kult kiosk about the noise problems in front of his kiosk: The kiosk operator felt he was already acting responsibly, removing garbage and instructing his staff to intervene in the event of noise disturbances. However, he says he has had little success with drunk people and has also had to deal with threats.

Many of those present were frustrated that they were constantly calling the public order office but nothing was happening. One woman demanded that personnel be shifted there. Sascha Hessenbruch, Head of the Administrative Offenses and Public Order Department, explained that the Friesdorf police station receives 100,000 calls a year, resulting in 40,000 to 45,000 call-outs.

Old Town residents: "Desperate cry for extra manpower”

According to Hessenbruch, the public order service has 32 officers with three or four cars on patrol in the city area (except for the city center, where the Gabi police unit is on duty) between 7 a.m. and 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. "We are not present at any one location because it is not possible. We deal with the complaints, drive away and the party goes on," said the head of department. Sometimes the public order office arrives too late at the scene and can no longer find any evidence (of a disturbance). According to Hessenbruch, the city is aware of the noise problems in the Old Town, but is currently not in a position to resolve them. "That's an admission of incompetence," shouted a local resident. "It's a desperate cry for reinforcements," said a man.

Hessenbruch referred to the "Safety, order and cleanliness" concept, which the city leadership intends to present to the city council in June: "We have done this because we realize that we are not entirely satisfied with our own performance." The presence and visibility of the public order office and public littering are important issues. Dealing with the controversial kiosk at the entrance to the Old Town is also not working due to a lack of presence (by officers) and therefore control. Skutnik, who is the Bonn police district officer responsible for the inner Nordstadt district, explained that disturbances of the peace, such as at the kiosk, were not at the top of the police department’s agenda. "We prosecute crimes and, just like the public order office, we prioritize them.”

Suggestions from the Old Town residents: extra patrols

A resident's wish to lift the smoking ban in pubs so that the smokers could stay inside was dismissed as "illusory". But there were also possible solutions. "I understand to a certain extent, but the noise at night is a problem. The restaurants tend to have their people under control, the kiosks don't at all," said one resident, suggesting a ban on the sale of alcohol starting at midnight at the kiosk at the entrance to the Old Town. "We've already done something like that," said Hessenbruch from the public order office, referring to the ban on alcohol consumption in the former Bonner Loch at the main railway station. Bans were being considered, but certain conditions would have to be met and monitoring guaranteed. Private security services could also be part of the solution, said the head of department. Night mayor Kettemer explained that such a concept already exists in Dortmund.

"I think there are some people here who would like to channel their energy somewhere," said a young woman. She loves the Old Town with all its restaurants, but she thinks the garbage is getting out of hand. "Can we do something, a petition or a list of signatures, with the aim of having an extra team from the public order office walk through the Old Town at night and break up the groups?" Hessenbruch replied that it was up to politicians to decide where staff would be allocated. However, a citizens' petition in the Bonn district council could support this.

Orig. text: Christine Ludewig

Translation: ck

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