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Students Occupy Brighton Development

Posted by Richard Ward in

Image courtesy of Flickr, Creative Commons

Students occupying a development site in Brighton have reportedly cost the construction company more than half a million pounds in costs.

Up to 40 students are understood to have broken into the construction site demanding the university meet the demands of the UCU, whose members are on strike. They also wanted to see the proposed rents for the new accommodation slashed and for the construction company Balfour Beatty to meet with Unite.

Students left the site after Balfour Beatty agreed to meet with union reps.

At the time of the occupation, Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell was a key negotiator in the ongoing UCU pension dispute and students were seeking to place pressure on Mr Tickell by showing solidarity with lecturers.

They also demanded the new 2,000-bed accommodation, which will replace the University of Sussex's cheapest accommodation, should not result in rents almost doubling, as currently proposed.

The University of Sussex awarded Balfour Beatty a £120 million, 50-year lease which will result in the company financing, building and operating the student accommodation. The University will act as a co-shareholder in the project and put up 20% of the equity.

Commenting on the occupation, a University of Sussex spokesperson said: "The Balfour Beatty security team managed the situation sensitively and professionally and there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. The safety and welfare of the occupiers was a priority at all times."