By Keziah Smith
St Cuthbert’s College Summer Ball has been cancelled today just hours before it was due to start. The decision to cancel the event was made by the University, in consultation with Durham County Council Public Health and County Durham Safety Advisory Group.
The announcement came on 1.30pm, less than three hours before the first guests were meant to board a bus for an event due to start at 7pm.
The University has said that they had taken this “difficult decision” following advice from the County Durham Safety Advisory Group and Durham County Council Public Health.
The event had been rearranged at Hardwick Hall after Derwent Manor pulled out as a venue for balls for seven colleges.
St Cuthbert’s Society JCR released the following statement: “Unfortunately the event tonight is cancelled. Cuth’s JCR and the venue are disappointed by this decision. We will fully refund all tickets (apart from the FIXR booking fee which we do not get!). We are just as disheartened by this as you are.”
A fresher, who was hoping to attend the event, said it was: “very unprofessional of the uni to cancel it 4 hours before we’re due to leave.”
Jeremy Cook, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Colleges and Student Experience) at Durham University said: “The health, safety and wellbeing of our students, staff and the wider community are always our first priority.
“Unfortunately, following the behaviours of a few, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel this evening’s event. This decision has been taken following advice from County Durham Safety Advisory Group and Durham County Council Public Health.
“Ticket holders have been contacted directly and we understand that this is disappointing news for students due to attend this evening’s event.
“Other events will continue as planned, providing well-managed opportunities for students to socialise within Covid secure venue guidelines and capacities away from city centre venues. These events will be kept under review considering local and national conditions.
“We remind our community of the restrictions on social gatherings that remain in place, including a limit of 30 people on gatherings outdoors and 6 people indoors.
“We urge all members of our community to continue to follow national and local guidance to help protect themselves and each other; to take regular LFD and PCR tests and to book their Covid-19 vaccination as soon as possible.”
The past week has seen Durham City document the highest Covid-19 case rate in England, after recording 314 cases in the seven days to June 20th.
The MSOA – an area excluding Gilesgate and Neville’s Cross used for government statistics – had a rolling rate for those seven days of 2169.6 per 100,000.
A recent survey by Durham polling indicated that a third of students had been forced to isolate in the two weeks to 18th-22nd June.
Image: Imogen Usherwood