RHC and Runnymede Consultative Group
Royal Holloway & Runnymede Consultative Group
Tuesday 15 June 2021
Meeting via Microsoft Teams
Royal Holloway: David Ashton (CHAIR/ Deputy Principal (Operations), Mike Berry (Director of Estates), Marie Ennis (Chief Marketing Officer), Helen Groenendaal (Head of Student Advisory & Wellbeing, Academic Services), Sarah Ixer-Pitfield (Head of Public Relations and Media).
Royal Holloway Students’ Union: Max Ross (Joint Chief Executive Officer)
Councillors: Cllr Marisa Heath, Cllr Isabel Mullens, Cllr Japneet Sohi
Mayor of Runnymede: Cllr Elaine Gill
Residents’ Associations: Chris Fisher (ERA), Christine Welsh (EGVRA)
Neighbourhood Watch: Stephen Hodgkinson
Surrey Police: Inspector James Wyatt
Chamber of Commerce: Mark Adams.
Environmental Health: Aileen Baker
1. Welcome and introductions
The group welcomed Inspector James Wyatt to the meeting.
2. Minutes and actions from the previous meeting
It was AGREED that the minutes of the last meeting on 2 March 2021, were a true and accurate record.
With regards to the actions from the last meeting on 2 March, it could not be confirmed if the action for Aileen Baker to share details of any business prosecutions for the breach of Covid-19 restrictions with councillors had been completed. This action will be carried over to the next meeting.
Helen Groenendaal confirmed that the outcome of the action in relation to the university’s complaints procedure had been included in the accompanying report: appendix C.
Chris Fisher stated complainants should be provided with further detail and expressed ongoing dissatisfaction on behalf of residents with the College’s approach. Stephen Hodgkinson thanked Royal Holloway for the change in process.
Helen Groenendaal advised that Royal Holloway’s approach to sharing information about action taken following complaints is in line with the HE sector. The community wellbeing team are active members of the HE ‘Town and Gown’ national network and regularly benchmark their processes and guidance against other universities operational processes. Further she advised that, from next academic year, Royal Holloway will share a summary of complaint types / outcome types with the forum.
Cllr Isabel Mullens, Cllr Japneet Sohi, Chris Fisher and Christine Welsh enquired about the increase in student numbers to 15,300 by 2030 and the impact on housing and transport. Dr Ashton confirmed the university is launching a sustainability plan in November 2021 and is investigating sustainable transport plans.
Cllr Isabel Mullens asked about a cycling route in Egham. This is the remit of RBC however, Dr David Ashton advised that the university has long campaigned for improved cycling routes and a reduction to the speed limit on Egham Hill and would support community action which called for either or both.
Cllr Isabel Mullens referenced the comparative price of HMOs compared with university accommodation. Dr David Ashton confirmed that the university offers a broad pricing range and, in clarification, there are three principle reasons why College accommodation is more beneficial and more than competitive with that of HMO’s.
When all three factors are taken into account, the College’s view is that its accommodation is more than competitive with HMO’s.
Dr David Ashton stated there is no change to the planned scale of the student village at Rusham Park for 1,400 study bedrooms in Phase One of the development. A subsequent Phase Two offers potential of up to 600 student bedrooms.
Cllr Japneet Sohi noted that a revision to the development plan for Rusham Park has been submitted by the College.
She thanked Royal Holloway and Surrey Police for the prompt response to recent anti-semitism complaints.
Cllr Marisa Heath updated that the new Police Crime Commissioner for Surrey is looking into street lighting with a view to some areas returning to all night street lighting. This would be a key piece of work ahead of winter.
The Surrey climate change strategy will be available by June 2021. Dr David Ashton confirmed that Royal Holloway would like to be involved in discussions in relation to the Council’s environmental plans. Cllr Heath also expects University will take part.
The recent parking consultation only had a small number of respondents but there is now potential to change some areas of on-street parking such as Virginia Water
Max Ross to provide Cllr Marisa Heath with an outline of the roads that students are most concerned about re street lighting.
Cllr Marisa Heath to send further details of the Surrey climate change strategy to the group.
Christine Welsh outlined a repeated issue of noise complaints at a local property. Helen Groenendaal advised how the university and Environmental Health have engaged with the resident’s concerns with input from the landlord and letting agency.
Local residents meetings for the Englefield Green Village Neighbourhood Plan and Forum will commence in the autumn depending on Covid-19 restrictions.
Helen Groenendaal to review records of the contact made with the local resident and the actions taken in the relation to the case raised
Chris Fisher read out letters and emails from local residents describing anti-social behaviour of students living in HMOs in the local area.
Dr David Ashton expressed his concern for local residents and advised that the university regularly reminds students of their obligations to be a good neighbour and refreshes student conduct regulations annually.
Inspector James Wyatt acknowledged there has been an increase in anti-social behaviour linked to student occupied houses in the area in last two weeks but overall a 40% reduction in all anti-social behaviour across the borough. Inspector Wyatt stated the importance of informing the Police, the university (if student related) and the council about incidents of anti-social behaviour. The Police will consider joint patrols when required. Helen Groenendaal confirmed the university’s commitment to take part in or support these patrols where invited by the Police.
Action: Inspector James Wyatt to provide examples of ASB and details of the ways that residents can get in touch with Surrey Police.
A report is provided in appendix A.
A report is provided in appendix B.
Mike Berry confirmed that there have been minor procedural adjustments to one of the drawings for Rusham Park which is why the plans have been re-submitted. He outlined plans for works on the university’s campus spine road, to take place from July to August. Piggery Gate will be used for temporary access to the site.
A report is provided in appendix C.
In the absence of Aileen Baker from Environmental Health, Helen Groenendaal shared a report covering March to June. There have been 38 reports and no enforcement notices. Aileen Baker has been involved in local patrols over the last two weeks and reported that the Environmental Health team continued to work closely with the university and Police to respond to concerns raised about student occupied properties.
Max Ross advised that the SU has provided activities in term 3 and compliance with Covid restrictions in SU venues has been exceptional.
The SU is planning activities for the new term.
Further to a discussion around the proposal to rotate the meetings between locations raised by Chris Fisher in March 2021, it was confirmed that all Forum meetings will continue online for the rest of 2021. From 2022 onwards the summer term meeting (usually held in June) will be held in person/ face to face each year, with the other two meetings (November and March) held online. No objections were raised.
Cllr Isabel Mullens asked where pre-promotion information for community drop-in sessions are available. Sarah Ixer-Pitfield advised information is published on the local community pages of the Royal Holloway website and in the Community Matters e-newsletter, which is intentionally shared in advance of the meeting. The dates of these meetings are also shared via emails to the forum members. The university will also include advance dates in forum meeting minutes.
Stephen Hodgkinson asked about student behaviour with supermarket trolleys and garden maintenance. Helen Groenendaal states supermarket behaviour is included in the university’s Be a Good Neighbour guidance as well as in refresher messaging. If specific incidents of concern are reported to the university the student household will be directly contacted to ask them to return trolleys to the supermarket.
Max Ross will update Stephen further to the meeting with regards to engagement with landlords re responsibility for garden upkeep.