Penglais Farm move-in marred by delays

THE MOVE to the newly opened Penglais Farm on Wednesday [21st] by students was marred by delays and problems upon arrival. Students faced delays of over 24 hours in their belongings being moved, with 11 of the 293 students due to move Wednesday left without their belongings until Thursday [22nd] due to delays.

Alex Tanton

Photo – Alex Tanton

Students were unable to gain access to Penglais Farm for at least 2 hours after the original key collection time, due, Aber Student Media understands, to Balfour Beatty delaying in signing over the buildings to the University. This led to a delay until 4pm of the removal companies being able to move students’ belongings, which had been due to start at 9am.

Students were contacted several times via email by the University, informing them of increasing delays to both their belongings being collected by removal companies, and to their ability to collect their keys to Penglais Farm. Third year Biochemistry and Genetics student Emily Magnus said that:

“I was disappointed that the university and Balfour Beatty had obviously had a lack of communication which delayed moving in. However, once that was resolved, university and union staff including the full time officers, student support and university porters were going above and beyond to help people. The removal company gave up at 1am after arriving on site with a van full of boxes and decided not to deliver them because they were all for ‘different blocks’ this left 11 people without their belongings, this was frustrating but thankfully three university porters came to my rescue and helped me and a friend bring our essentials over from Cwrt Mawr which was extremely lovely of them.

There were three small removal vans, I’ve heard that they were all different companies. But there was no communication between them. Once they had given up on moving people via their time slot, they were just going through blocks and moving people. But many people moved themselves over, so although the figure was 11, in reality it would have been much higher had people not moved themselves. But had they started at 9am like they tried to, it would have been fine. I don’t blame them for quitting at 1am, that is ridiculous hours and I know one removal man had popped his leg out so he was in pain.

I think everyone did all that they could given the circumstances apart from Balfour Beatty who have completely underestimated the task at hand from the very beginning. I think all the treatment I had was the best it could be, I had Alwena from the uni ringing me at 1am to see how I was and student services were doing their best to give me advice so despite it being a crazy day, it worked out eventually. Fferm Penglais is beautiful! It’s a shame because all the apologies comes from the accommodation office but it’s not them who need to apologise. They knew as little as we did. It’s Balfour Beatty who need I realise the impact they’ve had by letting us students down.

Students have also been disappointed by problems within Penglais Farm, such as problems with hot water for showers, a lack of washing machines or student parking meaning that they must use the facilities at PJM, and in particular the hobs. Students were not notified in advance of the move that:

“Only magnetised metal pots and pans, such as cast iron or steel, are suitable to work on induction hobs. Pure aluminium or copper pans will not work with this type of hob unless the base is bonded with a magnetic metal.”

Third year History student Charlotte Yapp said that:

“We had to wait for four hours from the time we were originally told. We wouldn’t have been quite so angry if they had told us what the hold up was and why we couldn’t move over. My shower didn’t work as it was so hot. It would have been nice for instructions on how to use it and the same goes for the hobs in the kitchen.”

The Students’ Union, who assisted with moving students to Penglais Farm, stated that:

On Wednesday, 21st of January, Fferm Penglais finally opened its doors after a four month delay due to construction issues involving Balfour Beatty, allowing 236 students to move into their new £45m term time home. AberSU staff and officers were on hand to assist the University and the students with the move, and even prepared housewarming pizzas for all new residents.

The Union’s staff worked overtime to cook & deliver 140 Stone Willy’s pizzas (paid for by the University), transported students from their temporary residence to the new development in the fleet of Students’ Union minibuses, whilst officers spent their evening going from door to door welcoming students and ensuring they were fed and happy. After a late night finish AberSU President, Jacob Ellis noted “Thank you to all volunteers and staff for ensuring students settled in at Fferm Penglais, especially resident tutors and AberSU officers and staff!”

Aberystwyth Students’ Union wishes to take this opportunity to thank all volunteers, resident tutors, University staff and AberSU staff & officers for taking the time and to ensure the students’ were moved safely to Fferm Penglais & would like to wish the new residents all the best in their new accommodation. AberSU representatives met with University senior management earlier today for a de-brief, to raise our concerns, and officers will continue to visit the site to make sure all residents are happy & settled.

Officers are pleased that today has been an improved transition with no complaints / concerns raised with the Students’ Union. As always, if any student wishes to speak to anyone regarding any accommodation matters please contact the friendly team at AberSU who are happy to listen, help & support.”