Bar wars returns as University dictates alternate opening nights

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Further cuts at the University have resulted in the forced closure of seven of the nine college bars on one weekend night each week. The change comes after the college bars were told they had to make an “efficiency saving” of £50,000 in the next academic year.

County, Bowland, Furness, Fylde, Grizedale, Pendle and Lonsdale college bars are involved in the cuts, which will result in each of them being closed on either Saturdays or Sundays for the foreseeable future.

Only Cartmel and Graduate bars are able to retain their current opening hours: Graduate because it was the only bar to meet its profit target for the last year, Cartmel purportedly because of the college’s catered accommodation and its reliance on Barker House Farm.

The colleges were told that due to cuts that needed to be made the hours worked by licensees and assistant licensees would have to be reduced. The decision to close seven of the bars for one weekend day, different ones being shut on different night, was made by the Facilities division at the University over the summer vacation, and the Students’ Union and colleges were told about the changes that were to come without any real consultation.

The reason for the closures is assumed to be due to the college bars collectively falling short of the budgeted yearly income by £173,369. Though the bars were profitable by over £1.68 million, they did not reach the necessary targets, and the closures are reportedly a consequence of this. The man behind the changes, David Peeks, Commercial Director at the University, was asked to comment but did not get back to SCAN before this issue was sent to print.

The closures have caused uproar in the student community. President of Furness JCR, Luke Anderson said: “It goes against the logic of the bars being college space by shutting them on one of the only two free days for students. The University and David Peeks see the bars as a business and not a major part of the college community.”

LUSU President, Robbie Pickles is also against the changes: “I believe the college bars can be run in a way which would allow them to achieve greater profitability that would not cut staff hours. This is not a progressive step. The college bars should be a primary recruiter of student staff and it is disappointing to see a reduction in jobs available.”

Many student staff are feeling the consequences of the changes to opening hours. Martha Sprackland is a third year student in Furness College, who also works in the bar. Furness and Fylde bars were grouped together to make the decision over which night they would stay open.

Sprackland said of the new opening policy: “I think it’s ridiculous. Saturday is a big night for any bar, so we’re all losing money. It’s the same for Fylde [which is closing] on the Sunday; neither bar is happy about it.

“To save money we’ve had people in working from other bars during the day to save money on paying us. Now LUSU is involved, we’re hoping the changes might be short-lived, but we can’t guarantee that any alternative will be better than this,” she added.

Ellie Ashton, another student working in Furness bar, reported that due to shift cuts her monthly wage has been reduced from £215 to £83.

The idea that the weekend closure will affect college spirit is common among many college Presidents. Matt Saint, County JCR President, spoke of his bar’s pairing with Bowland bar.

“Sunday is obviously our quiz night, and County’s is really popular. It’s the one staple night and from what I can see it’s the night the bar makes the most money, so I don’t understand the logic behind it. Some people have suggested having a joint quiz with Bowland but I think they’re missing the point of what the college system is,” Saint said.

Mark Lord, Cartmel JCR President is among a small number of people who will not be affected by the change, with his college bar not being subject to the new closing hours. He does, however, appreciate the repercussions for other colleges.

“I do appreciate that it’s not just about Cartmel. All bars on campus, as far as I’m concerned, have equal weight. I would be lying if I said I didn’t let out a cheer when I heard that Cartmel wouldn’t be closing, but at the same time it is very important that all the bars stay open, as they are a student facility, they’re not just a business,” he said.

Another issue with the changes is the lack of consultation with the people directly affected. Anderson said: “Through talking to those that were consulted, it seems all communication [from the University] was vague, last-minute and one-sided.

“The student populace should positively get behind any action that goes against the decision to shut the bars at the weekend,” he added.

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