Questions over future of The Waterfront in Norwich, after “significant decline” in trade

The Waterfront in King Street, Norwich. The Waterfront in King Street, Norwich.

Thursday, March 20, 2014
10:03 AM

Changes need to be made to strengthen the future of The Waterfront, its managers have said - after it emerged it made just £14,000 profit last year and has seen a “significant decline” in trade this year.

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The Norwich music venue is managed by the independent charity the Union of UEA Students, which is in the midst of a job-cutting restructuring.

The union is funded through a university grant of almost £500,000, and income from The Waterfront and its student services company.

But the union has posted what it described as “significant deficits for some years” and has started reorganising its staffing structure.

However, the proposals sparked an angry protest at the university yesterday, with UNISON organisers saying the future of The Waterfront , was under threat, along with 44 jobs at the Union of UEA Students.

John Lawrence, local organiser for UNISON’s Norfolk and Suffolk team, said: “Currently 44 of the 83 student union staff are under threat of redundancy despite the fact that no clear financial plan has been seen and the students have failed to be properly consulted.”

In a flyer which accompanied the demonstration, the protesters said The Waterfront was under threat, despite the King Street venue making a £50,000 profit last year.

However, both sets of figures were disputed by the students’ union.

They said 21 members of staff were at risk of redundancy, while 13 new posts had been created.

And on The Waterfront, Jim Dickinson, chief executive of the Union of UEA Students, said the £50,000 profit claim was wrong, with changes needed to strengthen the venue’s future.

He said: “The Waterfront, in fact, only made a £14,000 profit last year and has seen a significant decline in trade this year.

“The changes are designed to strengthen The Waterfront’s future prospects through more effective control of costs.”

He added the restructure would improve the union’s financial position and was part of a wider improvement plan to help post surpluses.

And he said it would not be appropriate to consult directly with students over staff redundancies.

• What do you think of The Waterfront? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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