Concerns about the Cadman Courtyard

QUESTION:
I’m concerned by the usage of the Cadman Courtyard over recent weeks and would appreciate Executive’s response to this. It feels more like a HGV / van terminus than a space that is welcoming and accessible for students and visitors – right now in the middle of Show & Tell there is a bin truck in the middle of the courtyard, as there was yesterday, with similar disruption and noise last week. Last week included one of the entrances (a fire exit at that) having a Brown’s recycling dumpster placed right in front of it. The Cadman Gallery, Careers Centre, Cashiers Office, Open Space, and Courtyard Café all open out onto what could be a real hub for this part of the campus but this I feel is having a negative impact on achieving that.

ANSWER:
The Cadman Courtyard is currently being used by the contractors who are working on the library refurbishment project, so there is more commercial vehicle activity than usual in this area.  Our Estates team have also been asked to provide skips in the courtyard for FACT and the activity around Show & Tell, although these will only be required on a short term basis.

Why were trees removed?

QUESTION:
A couple of weeks ago I watched tree surgeons carefully pruning the mature trees at the edge of the car park behind the Science Centre (and behind the Business Village) at Leek Road. Today I came in to find they had been cut down completely. What was the reason for the earlier pruning if they were to be removed?

On another point, are the trees that have been planted along the side of the Science Centre being looked after? I am not a tree expert by any means, but to my eyes, the new leaf growth this Spring looks decidedly stunted, with few leaves, and with visible curling and browning of those that have grown. Are these trees getting enough water? I imagine that they have cost quite a lot to plant as they are semi-mature so it would be an awful shame if they died – we need them to replace all the others that are being cut down!

 
ANSWER:
With regard to the tree pruning, our Grounds Maintenance Team has an annual, seasonal schedule of work that includes tree management. The team works closely with the landscaping contractors but on the before mentioned occasion at Leek Road, we weren’t aware of how quickly the trees would be removed when the pruning took place.

Why have the light switches been removed in the Beacon Building?

QUESTION:

Why have the light switches been removed from C342 and C346 on the top floor of the Beacon Building? Now the lights remain on all day while the rooms stand empty for most of the day. This surely does not comply with the University’s green policy.

 

ANSWER:

The lighting in these rooms has been updated as part of the teaching room refurbishment programme. This has resulted in the light switches being relocated inside trunking rather than within the plaster surface. The switches will be marked up when the works in these rooms are complete. The new lighting will be on absence detection when fully commissioned, but in the meantime it is necessary to have continual full light for 100 hours as part of the ‘burning in’ process. This extends the life of the tube within the light fitting.

Why has work on the Nelson Library stopped?

QUESTION:
The refurbishment of the Nelson Library has been stopped but there has been no official announcement explaining why this has happened and what it means for the future of the Stafford Campus.

Could we have a full explanation please?

ANSWER:
As you’re aware we have recently started the process of producing a new Estates Strategy; with a first stage consultation and review period underway over the next 12 months. As such we’ve decided to put the next stage of works for the Nelson building on hold while this takes place, as the new strategy will supersede some of the previous works schedules not yet commenced. We will keep you updated on the evolvement of the Estates Strategy over the coming months.

Will dangerous tree stumps be tidied up?

QUESTION:
Over by the Ashley building there is a grass embankment between the road and the Law building on the other side where they cut down the trees which were along the ridge. However, a lot of these were left without a ‘clean cut’ across the trunks so there are many which have quite substantial ‘spikes’ sticking up from what is left of the trunks. Are there any plans to tidy these up? I’m sure they must be considered as dangerous – apart from being a real eyesore.

 
ANSWER:
The work on the embankment referred to was being undertaken by the Landscaping Project team, AA projects.
All tree root stumps have now been removed (grubbed-up) as part of the Contract Works – thank you.

Why are more trees being cut down?

QUESTION:
I am just watching more really established trees being cut down on College Road…why is this? Just because they are in the ‘wrong’ place?

I know more are going to be planted, but surely there is no need to clear out all the trees that don’t fit the plan.

 
ANSWER:
Three trees have been removed close to the College Rd car park entrance by our University Grounds team. Two of these trees were dead and another showed signs of disease. We will be replacing these trees with a more suitable species that doesn’t carry the same disease risk, as we recognise the importance of trees to our environment.

Does the University remember it has a Lichfield campus?

QUESTION:
I would like to know if the University will one day remember that it has a Lichfield Campus. (In partnership with South Staffordshire College).

It seems that for years Lichfield has been forgotten or worse treated with indifference by the University. The learner’s at Lichfield have to use out dated, painfully slow computers in the learning resource centre and have to be taught in excessively hot computer rooms due to an aging air-conditioning system that is no longer fit for purpose. (Site surveys and quotes for replacement have been gathered many times over the years – still nothing has been actioned)

Both of these issues have been raised many times by staff and students without resolution. Surely one would think that the University could work more effectively with their college counterparts to provide a suitable learning environment for all of its students?

 
ANSWER:
We have recently agreed with our College Partner to invest in a much needed upgrade to the air conditioning system and this project is now being progressed. With regards to the PC’s, we are looking at how they can be developed to meet the differing requirements of both College and University students. As a short term measure and to deal with the performance issues, we have agreed with the College to invest in new PCs for the heavily used areas.

The Lichfield Campus remains an important part of the University and we are looking at how we can improve the student experience. The recent increase in use of the facility by our Education Team is an example of our commitment to the location and the partnership.

 

Are there plans to bring Costa Coffee to Stafford?

QUESTION:
I’ve been up to Stoke recently and noticed they serve Costa Coffee and I was quite envious of the people up in Stoke.

Do you have any plans to introduce Costa Coffee in Stafford?

 
ANSWER:
The Campus & Commercial Services team is continually reviewing the services we offer and this may include the introduction of new brands. We recently brought Grumpy Mule coffee to the University in the Ashley Cafe at Stoke and will be happy to look into the possibility of bringing Costa to Stafford.

What is being done to improve the poor heating and lack of hot water in the Octagon?

QUESTION:
What is being done to improve the poor heating and lack of hot water in the Octagon?

 

ANSWER:
Planned work to fix the problem with the poor heating and lack of hot water in the Octagon has proven to be far greater than first anticipated due to the fragile condition and old age of the building’s services, with many new associated faults identified as part of the initial investigation.

The many faults have now been corrected and since March 2012, the Estates Department have carried out the following improvement works at a cost of £300,000.

•Replacement of two new boilers;
•Progressive replacement of the obsolete Building Management System;
•Replacement of the main intake and return fans to the Octagon’s main air handling plant;
•Replacement of existing valves throughout the Octagon which were not fully functioning;
•Initial commissioning of the system;

The system is now in full operation with far higher heating and hot water temperatures available from the new boilers as of Monday 21st January 2013.

Engineers will however be on site for the next 2-3 weeks to balance the system and raise temperatures in any localised cold spots. This work will go on in the background. Disruption will be minimal and any affected users will be notified in advance.

I would take this opportunity to apologise for the uncomfortable conditions experienced within the building and highlight that the University is committed to investing in the buildings and fabric to ensure an improved student experience.

How will open space offices be managed?

QUESTION:
When moving staff in to open plan office space – specifically moving Services in to Cadman and Blackstone – what plans are in place to ensure that we are able to receive visitors in an organised and professional manner?  Specifically, a campus/central reception?

 
ANSWER:
The Cadman project incorporates the main University Reception facility for Stoke and will be staffed by dedicated reception staff who will provide the professional service needed for any user of the building.

*This is a question that we did not have time for during the last Executive Question Time.