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University-wide catering contract signed with Compass

Compass Group has been appointed under a major new contract to work in partnership with the University to provide catering services to 23 cafes and restaurants, as well as providing event catering and hospitality. The contract will be managed by the FM and University Purchasing teams. It took effect on 2 October and will bring an annual benefit of £1.25 million to the University over ten years.

The ten-year contract was awarded after a comprehensive, robust tender process, with a number of departments consulted. It offers significant service, sustainability, financial, and compliance benefits. It will also provide departments that opt to use the service with consistently high-quality catering, while also enabling them to tailor the service to suit their own particular requirements. A key objective was to deliver value for money by moving away from the previous use of a variety of contractors which have offered varying standards of service and food quality while increasing total management and operational costs.

There will be a focus on healthy eating and sustainability, with a commitment to achieve Food for Life accreditation. Work on sustainable food will include an increase in meat-free choices and a focus on local suppliers, and will continue to evolve over the term of the contract, in close collaboration with Environmental Sustainability colleagues. As part of the contract, funds are available to refurbish many of the existing facilities and create inviting social hub spaces in consultation with departments. There also will be quick and easy ways to buy food, such as through click-and-collect or cashless payments. 

New Laboratory with Leaves videos launched

The two latest instalments in the ‘Laboratory with Leaves’ series of videos about the decades of science that have taken place in Wytham Woods have gone live. The first looks at the career and achievements of Charles Elton, the ‘father of ecology’, whose work in the Woods helped pave the way for all the research that’s been done there since, and whose diaries are still providing new insights into how the landscape has changed over time. The second video examines the range of incredible technology at work in the Woods – from a mechanised hotel for voles to lasers that can map the tree canopy and tracking bees’ flightpaths with UV paint.

Poetry on Parks pondProfessor Clark Lunberry of University of North Florida, creating a poetry installation on the pond by Lazenbee's Walk in the Parks.

In early September, Professor Clark Lunberry of the University of North Florida created a temporary art and poetry installation in the Parks by installing words floating on the surface of the pond next to Lazenbee’s Ground. This was one of the events around the Power of the Word international conference, organised by Regent’s Park College. He installed the words on 13 September, and they stayed in place for several days. 

Old images brought back to life

Members of the Estates Services Information Management team have been working with the Medical Imaging Department at the John Radcliffe Hospital’s Academic Centre to digitise around 5,000 old photo negatives that had come to light in its archives. They are old plans of buildings around Oxford, and could be useful for applications including legal research and architectural history. Now that the scanning is done, the team will investigate how to link the resulting digital images to the corresponding areas in the Planon space database and make them available more widely.

Triton statue installed at Castle Mill

A historic piece of fine stone sculpture is to be installed in the display niche built into the Castle Mill graduate accommodation development. Showing Triton, Greek god of the sea, the statue used to be the centrepiece of the fountain in front of the ROQ before being replaced by a replica as it is no longer suitable for outdoor display. Before being installed at the ROQ, it was exhibited at the Crystal Palace as part of the Great Exhibition of 1851. The Castle Mill sculpture niche had to be extended to fit the statue, which will be safe from the elements behind glass. 

ContentCal takes Estates social media to the next level

The Estates Services Communications team has introduced ContentCal, new software that makes it far easier for teams all over the department to plan and share their social media content together. Staff can create social media updates within the software, adding words, images and other multimedia. They can then schedule these posts to go up automatically on any social media channel, and share them with other users. So two teams can easily work on a joint marketing campaign, or adapt and re-use content from each other’s social media feeds, avoiding duplication of effort and making it easier to find new content to keep their social media accounts fresh and interesting. The system also includes analytics to help teams understand which content has been most successful and why. So far the Environmental Sustainability, Wytham Woods, Science Transit Shuttle and FM Events Venues teams are using ContentCal, and more could come on board in future. 

University buys rugby ground

In September the University bought Oxford University Rugby Football Club (OURFC)’s playing ground. This brings the ground into the University estate, securing OURFC’s future and providing space to improve the University’s sports facilities.

The University has acquired the two-hectare Iffley Road site that was originally acquired for OURFC by Major R V Stanley in 1922. It will lease the majority of the site back to the rugby club – including the pitch, two stands and the Pavilion – on a long-term basis, for a modest annual rent. By bringing the ground into the University estate, the deal makes a significant contribution to OURFC’s financial stability and secures the long-term future of rugby at Iffley Road.  The remainder of the site will be used to develop the University sports facilities next to the rugby ground.

Progress continues on bike security

The Security Services team has made major improvements to cycle security in recent years; five years ago a typical week saw 12-15 bike thefts on University property, and that number has now fallen to 2-3. They have done this with a many-pronged approach including selling discounted D-locks to students, as well as bike lights and other safety equipment and providing advice on how to avoid getting their bikes stolen.

As reported in the last issue of Estates Services News, the University recently joined national cycle database BikeRegister, meaning staff and students can mark and register their own bikes online. This makes life easier both for them and for Security staff, who no longer have to manually add their details to a database. The system has already enabled two stolen bikes to be returned to their owners. To sign up, visit

Security staff have appeared at Freshers’ Fair as usual to raise awareness of their services among the new intake of students, but they hope the next big improvements in cycle security will come from a new initiative. They are dividing the University estate into four zones – the ROQ, including the Engineering area; Old Road Campus; the Science Area; and graduate accommodation including Castle Mill, 25 Wellington Square and Summertown House. One of the four security shifts will be made responsible for each. When several bike thefts are reported at a particular place, shift members will make contact with those responsible for managing nearby buildings and offer advice on how they could improve bike security.

The team's efforts to curb cycle crime have been so successful that Belinda Hopkins, Crime Prevention & Reduction Advisor, was recently invited to give a talk at the National Cycle Crime Conference outlining how this has been achieved. 

Facebook pages will help graduate housemates bondFacebook logo

The Graduate Accommodation team has created a closed Facebook group for incoming residents of 38-40 Woodstock Road. This should enable students to get to know their new housemates before arrival, helping them to settle into their new home. If this is successful, the team will roll this out to more sites ready for next year’s intake of students. 

Security Services moves towards CCTV accreditation

The Security Services team is in the process of voluntarily complying with demanding new government standards for monitoring and using CCTV imagery, going beyond its legal obligations in order to ensure it meets industry best practice.

The government recently brought in a CCTV Code of Practice. Organisations like the police must gain certification that they comply with it, but for universities compliance is voluntary. Security Services decided to seek accreditation anyway since this will mean the team is well-positioned to advise colleges and departments on how to meet the Code’s requirements if doing so ever becomes mandatory.

Security Services has audited all the cameras on its network, overhauled its internal guidelines for CCTV monitoring, provided training to supervisors and produced full documentation of the new system. This has led to steady progress towards accreditation, which is now expected around May 2018.

These steps to bring the team’s internal processes into line with industry best practice follow significant investment in new technology, with the CCTV network being converted to use digital technology that improves image quality, enables the team to store large amounts of footage securely on central hard drives and makes it easier to add new cameras to the network. 

Security Services helps organise VIP visits to OxfordPrince Charles at Kellogg College Hub, 16 May 2017

The Security Services team continues to work closely with partners across the University and beyond to ensure that high-profile visits to Oxford go safely and securely. They did this ahead of HRH Prince Charles’ visit to the recently-constructed Kellogg College Passivhaus Hub building – an innovative structure with exceptional environmental performance, whose construction was managed by the Estates Services Capital Projects team – and then played a similar role for the visit of the Spanish royal family to Oxford in July, including trips to the Weston Library and Exeter College.

Ahead of each visit, security staff liaised with groups including the police, the events team at Wellington Square and the royal household. Generally, the police sweep public areas for security threats, and then Security Services maintain security by controlling the perimeter, manning crowd barriers and similar tasks. 

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