University of Leeds: Universities, council and police strengthen community relations partnership

A stronger partnership to build better community relations and address community concerns in inner north west Leeds has been confirmed this week.

The partnership, made possible through funding from the University of Leeds and Leeds Beckett University, will offer a new, dedicated community service for the Headingley, Hyde Park, and Little Woodhouse areas. It builds on existing work by the partnership, which includes all seven of the city’s higher education providers and their students’ unions, Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police.

With a focus on improving relationships between students and the wider community through a significant increase in investment and a range of new measures, the partnership will increase proactive work to discourage noise nuisance, anti-social behaviour and waste and environmental crimes such as littering and fly-tipping. It will provide increased enforcement capability where issues arise; add extra support to tackle waste and environmental issues, and encourage better waste reduction, recycling behaviours and the correct use of the refuse collection service – especially when students move between accommodation.

It continues and strengthens a partnership service established during the height of the pandemic last autumn, which itself built on dedicated resources committed to the area by the council over a period of many years.

Cllr James Lewis, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “We are a proud University city, being home to seven higher education institutions, and a student population of over 70,000. There are many positives that come from our university partners, including making significant contributions to the city’s economy, research and cultural life. We also recognise that some issues can arise in all communities with a student population, and this isn’t unique to Leeds.

I welcome the funding that the Universities have made available and the opportunity to develop closer partnerships to reduce any negative impact for residents.

Cllr James Lewis, Leeds City Council Leader
“All partners are committed to working together to improve community cohesion for all residents in inner north west Leeds, and on their behalf, I’d like to thank all the residents who have contributed feedback and helped in the development of these improved services.”

As a civic university, our community is at the heart of what we do and who we are.

Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor
Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds, said: “As a civic university, our community is at the heart of what we do and who we are. We welcome this opportunity to build on our longstanding partnership work to ensure Leeds is a safe, pleasant and inclusive place to live for all residents.”

Professor Peter Slee, her counterpart at Leeds Beckett University, added: “Building and maintaining positive relations in the city is a priority for all the universities in Leeds and I’m pleased that we are able to strengthen the positive partnership arrangements we’ve developed over the last few years with Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police.”

More resources have now been committed to formalise this enhanced offer, with increased capacity to work with the community and respond rapidly to any issues due to be in place by January and existing arrangements continuing in the meantime. Measures include:

Two full-time response officers dedicated to the area seven days a week, working from 5pm to 4am and proactively monitoring concerns relating to noise nuisance, in addition to the city-wide out of hours provision;
Two police community support officers (PCSOs) will continue to support response officers on Friday and Saturday nights; and
The Leeds Watch triage service will have additional call handling capacity in place on Friday and Saturday.
In addition to more officers on the ground, the partnership will be supported by a new full-time community coordinator employed by Leeds City Council; and a new community relations post being appointed by Leeds Beckett University. These new postholders will work with an existing community and student engagement officer at University of Leeds, and will engage regularly with community groups, landlords and Unipol, and other key stakeholders. It is proposed that the partnership will meet each term with chairs of residents’ associations, and will put in place an improved process to give residents more information about their complaints. They will also support access to a wide range of community opportunities.

Student unions at both Leeds Beckett and University of Leeds have been involved in the new partnership arrangements, and will support a programme of student engagement.

I am really keen that both students and local residents work together to create a community they can all be proud to live in.

Aysha Burton, Union Affairs and Communications Officer, LUU
Aysha Burton, Union Affairs and Communications Officer at Leeds University Union, said: “I am really keen that both students and local residents work together to create a community they can all be proud to live in. At LUU, we are launching sustainability initiatives such as our litter picking scheme, which involves student-run clubs and societies adopting and looking after streets where students live.”

And Pango Simwaka, Union Affairs Officer at Leeds Beckett Student’s Union, added: “We’re pleased to be part of these enhanced partnership arrangements and keen to show that the vast majority of students in Leeds really value the welcome they have from the city, and are committed to making the most of their time in the city without any impact on others.”

The universities aim to increase participation in an existing programme of student training to make the move from halls of residence a smoother process, using feedback from residents about those issues that can create tension between communities and student households. There will also be additional funding and more support for this period, to increase recycling of unwanted items and reduce the waste management issues that result from property changeovers.

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