UPDATE FROM TENANTS’ FORUM: 28 SEPTEMBER
19 October 2022
HIGHLIGHTS FROM TENANTS’ FORUM MEETING ON 28 SEPTEMBER:
Our last Tenants’ Forum took place on Wednesday 28 September at Crichton Central and was hosted by Rachel Cowper, Chief Operating Officer at The Crichton Trust.
Thanks to those who joined us and for those who couldn’t make it this month, you can find the highlights below:
INTRODUCTIONS: Rachel welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced representatives present from The Crichton Trust; Sarah-Jane Burns (Business Community Development Manager), Gordon Clark (Head of Property) and Caroline Bell (Marketing).
UPDATES AND DISCUSSIONS:
- Tenants’ Forum: Rachel advised that this was the first Tenants’ Forum to take place offline and welcomed feedback from tenants and partners about the format, timing, location and purpose of future meetings. (See notes below)
- Energy Prices: Given the rise in energy costs and the impact this is having on energy bills for The Crichton Trust and tenants, The Crichton Trust were keen to meet face-to-face with tenants (at these meetings or at another time) to provide the background to the significant increase in energy costs at The Crichton and the need for these costs to be shared with tenants. Rachel explained gas supply to The Crichton was from the NHS, and although 83% of the energy was bought in advance by the NHS through bulk procurement, the remaining 17% was bought later at a considerably higher rate.
- Rachel assured those present, that The Crichton Trust is doing everything possible to clarify the situation with NHS, while proactively increasing the pace of projects in the pipeline to look at alternative energy supplies going forward. Rachel stressed the importance of finding a workable solution to retain tenants, but cover increased costs.
- Discussion: It was acknowledged that the increase in energy costs is affecting everyone, but some tenants expressed concern about the lack of warning given to them about the increased costs and were unhappy about the prospect of back-dating energy costs as this has not been budgeted for. There was however an understanding that costs would increase and that with warning and if possible, tenants could budget for this increase going forward. It was recognised that every organisation is different and that some tenants would be better placed than others to cope with the increase.
- Initiatives: Further suggestions and ideas were discussed about cost and energy-saving initiatives to reduce the use of energy, from both an environmental and financial point of view. In order to reduce costs and energy use, The Crichton Trust will be displaying energy-saving tips in buildings throughout the estate including everything from turning lights off, reducing thermostats, wrapping up etc.
- District Energy System: The Crichton Trust is already working with other partners to develop a District Energy System and welcomes insights, input and support from other tenants and partners.
- Thermostats: Heating and thermostats are different in every building, but most buildings can currently control the thermostats in their building, but not by office.
- Sensors: PRI sensors will be rolled out where possible to reduce lighting empty spaces and support reducing electricity costs.
- LoWran: The Crichton Trust is about to start using sensors on gas meters, so that the property team are alerted to usage variances and volume of consumption in any of its buildings.
- Funding: The Crichton Trust has already noted interest in circa £20m for next year, which will help with the development of the alternative energy system for the site.
- Communication with tenants: Over and above the existing posters, emails and meetings, tenants expressed interest in more face-to-face visits and meetings. It was suggested that showing tenants how to control thermostats in their building might help.
- Queries/Concerns/Suggestions: Rachel encouraged tenants to contact The Crichton Trust if they would like to discuss the impact of energy costs and/or solutions.
- How can we make the meetings works for you? In an effort to ensure these meetings are worthwhile, tenants were asked to share their views. Some suggestions made were to hold different meetings for different people / purposes / themes as in larger organisations this may dictate who attends future meetings.
- There was a desire to find common themes/projects that might bring more tenants together with a common goal eg. to collectively work together on Net Zero targets, or for business and academic reps to work more closely together on research projects with the potential that common projects might also qualify for funding support.
- There was also a discussion around the use of ‘tenants’ and a feeling that other terminology might feel more like a partnership/community.
- It was agreed to continue with the current schedule of events at 11am on the last Wednesday of the month and until the end of the calendar year with face-to-face meetings at Crichton Central.
- Suggestions for alternatives dates/times/themes welcome.
- The Crichton Trust will share an updated schedule of events and forums to discuss tenants needs, operations, concerns, ideas and to get to know fellow tenants. Themed sessions could be arranged separately to encourage ‘clusters’ of tenants to collaborate on mutual projects.
- Sarah-Jane shared information about CCLG; a strategic leadership group with senior reps from The Crichton Trust, colleges, universities, Council, NHS, SFC etc. It would be useful to explore how relevant info from CCLG could be filtered down.
Other areas of discussion:
- Question: Tenants were keen to know the best way to find out about other tenants on site.
- Answer: The Crichton Directory offers a fairly comprehensive list of tenants, although not all. Tenants’ Forums, Walk & Talks and Coffee & Chat sessions are also promoted to encourage informal collaboration every month.
- Suggestion: It was suggested that signage to let people know what businesses are on site would be helpful rather than just building names.
- The Crichton: A discussion took place around how we describe the estate eg. The Crichton, The Crichton Estate, The Crichton Business Park, Academic Campus etc. The Trust use ‘The Crichton’ when speaking about the overall site and in their address, but when writing/describing the site in more details and on-site signage also refer to the different zones/components eg. academic campus, business park etc. It is recognised that some tenants may be restricted by their own organisation, especially where they want to be consistent when describing various locations. The University of Glasgow shared details of a ‘Position and Place’ survey they are working on.
- Moving On: Sarah-Jane Burns announced that she will be leaving The Crichton Trust to take up a new role at the end of September. For future correspondence on matters please contact either Rachel Cowper or Gordon Clark at the Trust. All the best to Sarah-Jane in her new role.
REGULAR EVENTS AND OPPORTUNITIES:
- Check out The Crichton What’s On for the latest updates about forthcoming events.
- Crichton Briefing: The next Crichton Briefing video update is planned for 6 December.
- Tenants’ Forum: Next Tenants’ Forum will take place on 26 October at 11am in the FlexiSpace at Crichton Central.
- Walk and Talk: Informal Walk and Talk sessions for tenants, colleagues, members and partners take place at Crichton Central on every second Wednesday of each month.
- Coffee and Chat: Drop-in Coffee and Chat sessions for tenants, colleagues, members and partners will start at Crichton Central on the first Tuesday of each month.
- The Crichton Directory: All tenants and partners can have a free profile/listing on The Crichton website. New listings and updates can be made by following the link at the top of the directory listing or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Crichton Blog: The blog is regularly updated with news and details of meetings and other events.