A forum has been launched to improve communication between UEA and local councillors. The UEA Councillors’ Liaison Group will meet every six weeks, with representatives discussing issues affecting university and local life.
UEA said in a statement it wanted the group to facilitate “constructive dialogue” between its staff, those of the Students’ Union and councillors sitting on both the Norwich City and Norfolk County Councils. The university is looking to expand from its current 16,000 students to 18,500 by 2032.
The group will be chaired by UEA’s Director of Student Services Dr Jon Sharpe, who said UEA “look forward to working with the councillors.”
The attempt to encourage dialogue between the university and councillors comes after Students’ Union protests caused Norwich City Council to postpone controversial ‘Article 4’ proposals last September.
The proposals, to be reconsidered this year, would limit houses of multiple occupancy in certain high-concentration areas like the Golden Triangle, potentially cutting the number of student rental properties.
A representative for the Students’ Union said: “Our participation in this group [is] part of a wider plan to make sure that students make a positive contribution to the community and that any issues are resolved quickly.”
City councillor for University ward Roger Ryan said: “With the UEA’s expansion plans, this new group will give local ward councillors the opportunity to be involved in discussing any issues and ensure the interests of everyone in the local area are taken into account.”
The university estimates that UEA students contribute £200 million to the local economy, with UEA supporting 4,000 jobs in Norwich.
All three University ward city councillors represent Labour; county council elections will be held on 4th May this year.