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Issue 477, 18 February 2002

Letters

Debate mustn't postpone action

Dr M R Ogden
Language Centre

I returned the staff well-being survey and encouraged all Language Centre staff to do the same.

Although the response rate at 23% might be a bit disappointing, it isn't bad compared with typical values for similar exercises. It means that over 1500 staff are serious enough about their health and well-being at work to want to do something about it. It is surely also true that others, who for whatever reason failed to return the form, would 'come on board' as paying users if any of the mooted facilities were made available.

I wonder therefore whether a 'campus-wide debate' is necessary. Would it not be seen by many just as a way of postponing action? Your article states a pool has been 'under consideration for many years', and that it is (still) top of the wish-list. Surely then the committee needs a firm action plan to create a pool? Its efforts should remain focused on fundraising, and I don't see a campus-wide debate as the best way of taking that forward.

Finally, making a really obvious point, sauna, steam, massage and showers could all have a place in the pool. Indeed, linking with another Reporter item, how about free parking and a free swim for staff who arrive on campus before 7.30am? Productivity might never be the same again and I speak as one who cycles nine miles to work but who, I confess, usually arrives after 9 am.

Swimming pool is just on our doorstep

W Houghton-Evans
Life fellow

It's good to find swimming at the top of our sports facility wish-list. But we don't have to wait for a new pool to be built on campus in order to enjoy it. One of this country's rare 50 metre pools and 10 metre diving pits which many of us have enjoyed using for decades is on our doorstep.

Leeds International Pool is now under threat. Our city council is proposing to sell its valuable site to fund a suburban replacement. Those of us who regularly use its pools, gyms and other facilities know how unjustified are the malicious rumours about its unsuitability for training, competition and healthy exercise. No impartial assessment has shown that it cannot be brought up to the highest current standards for much less than it would cost to build two new pools. Architects like myself deplore the intention to demolish an outstanding example of good modernist design.

For tens of thousands of students here and at LMU and for city-centre workers and residents, a remote replacement in south Leeds is useless. Before all of us keep on going our separate ways, can't we co-operate in finding a sensible way of keeping the first-class facilities we all need where they belong: in the city centre?

Cancel the feng shui consultants

EC Smith and others
Algernon Firth building

In the November issue (Reporter 474), front-page space was given to an article on stresses in the workplace, urging University staff to complete a questionnaire on aspects of their working environment, both physiological and psychological. Although we applaud any improvements the University is trying to implement, the notion of providing such indulgencies as saunas and tai-chi rooms is extremely offensive to the majority of the staff working on the third floor of the Algernon Firth building.

The ex-'museum' on the third floor has now been given over to 'office space', where there is a paucity of heating and lighting. The main lighting in the room is from ten ceiling lights, of which currently only five are working. After repeated requests there is still no sign of the scaffolding arriving to repair the remaining broken five. As an example, at 4pm, the illumination level has been measured by University estate services at between 57-200 lux. Dr Brian Singleton, the University's safety adviser, has informed us that there is a requirement of providing between 300-500 lux for VDU users.

Since the autumn the temperature has ranged between 8-21C. Last summer, one of the wettest on record, the average temperature in the working day was 32C; on occasion the only solution was to prop open the firedoors.

Installation of heaters and lamps is impossible, as there are only five power sockets between twenty people for all uses. Two applications to the minor works committee for funds to improve the workspace by professors Christopher Wild and Alastair Hay have been unsuccessful.

Perhaps before the University calls in the feng shui consultants, it could ensure that all staff have a basic level of comfort in the workplace.

Director of estates, Robert Sladdin replies: Following the transfer of the Pathology Museum to the Worsley building, medicine submitted a request for minor works funding for converting the former museum area to offices. This was deferred due to continued uncertainty about the future use of the Algernon Firth building by the University and the Trust. However, space pressures have meant that medicine is now using the museum space for staff, and we are in discussion about how we can fund a relatively modest improvement, to make the area usable until the building is vacated in 2006.

Parking a bone of contention

Dr Harry Lewis
Pro-Vice-Chancellor

The cost of parking for 'visitors', amongst whom are many staff, is obviously a bone of contention (Letters, Reporter 476). However, the real problem is insufficient car parking spaces to satisfy the demand currently 638 staff are on the waiting list for permits.

Staff who park for a daily fee are competing for parking places with short stay visitors to the campus who arrive later in the day. These visitors often have to be turned away when the car parks are full, which is a daily occurrence, much to the dismay and annoyance of departments who have arranged for visitor parking. continued from page 2

Cheaper daily parking for staff would simply encourage more people to come to campus by car, which would further exacerbate the parking problem.

The traffic policy review group, which I chair, is exploring potential solutions to the problem and will shortly be issuing a questionnaire to all staff who would like to park on campus. The questionnaire will seek to quantify the demand for spaces and to help the group to understand the factors influencing that demand. I hope that all would-be parkers will help the group by completing the questionnaire.

Resisting demands for more parking

Harold Best
Member of Parliament

I was pleased to see the discussion in the letters page of Reporter 476 on parking provision for University employees in or close by the University of Leeds. I am also grateful to note the resistance to the demands for the provision of additional parking places from the local planning authority.

As a locally elected member of parliament, I remain concerned about the environmental consequences of car use in the areas around the University and would like to add my thoughts that the University would send better signals to all those who use its resources (both staff and students) and other employers in the city if it offered some sort of travel subsidy for its workers to use the public transport system. It would not be the first time a major employer had taken on this form of support for its workers in Leeds. The University may even get a special deal from the providers of the transport given the size of its workforce and its resulting capacity to bulk-buy travel passes.

Perhaps the trade unions could open up such an exchange of view with the employer and the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, if such arrangements do not already exist?

Reporter should go greener too

Kathy Dyer
SAP Team

I read with interest the article on good environmental practices 'Growing greener with a new strategy'. It is great news that the University is interested in environmental issues.

In light of this could anyone explain why nearly 500 copies (about 475 I think) of the Reporter are sent out internally in envelopes? This is such a waste of envelopes and labels, around 1000 a month. (Not to mention time spent sticking labels on and filling the envelopes.) Most of these envelopes are probably put straight in the bin.

If they have to be labelled individually could these not be stuck on the back of the magazine like all the others?

I have never understood why copies of the Reporter need name and address labels on them at all, as this is such a waste of labels, and the resources used to run them on the printer and stick them on the magazine. Why can't numbers required for each building, department or office, be listed for the delivery people who could then deliver the necessary amount to each office?

Editor's reply: We use envelopes only when the number of inserts warrants it (otherwise they would fall out). Staff and envelope costs are met by those requesting distribution of the inserts. We would expect all individuals, departments or offices to recycle them; the press office will gladly do so if you have no need of them.


 
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