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The planned refurbishment of Pendle College Bar has been delayed again, to the dismay of Pendle students. Work which was originally scheduled to take place over summer will now not begin until the new year, delayed once already this term.
The delays have been the result of hesitation surrounding the design of the project. Director of Facilities Mark Swindlehurst explained that “the Principal of Pendle College, Roger Gould, requested that the project was put on hold so that he could review the design before final commitment was made. The pause meant that the original timescale could not be met and we have rescheduled the contractors to start work on the bar at the beginning of January 2011”.
Gould explained the reasons behind this. Following recent concern about the cash-flows of college bars, “I wanted to be certain that after an expensive [refurbishment] changing Pendle Bar into an entertainments venue, it was at least less likely to be loss-making than it currently is, by not only attracting lots of students but also increasing the likelihood of them buying a drink”.
In Gould’s opinion Pendle’s proximity to LUSU Central Stores hinders its competitiveness in terms of alcohol sales. Consequently, he proposed a change to an “all-day and evening coffee bar”. Sales of coffee and food would cover the bar’s costs and maintain student employment, as well as allowing “a range of other uses in the social space”.
According to Gould: “It took under a week for me to take this idea to Pendle JCR [Executive], who discussed the idea and rejected it, as they preferred the current bar plan [of an entertainments venue]”. Gould then confirmed the project as originally planned with Facilities, who scheduled it to begin in the New Year. However, this explanation does not match with Pendle JCR’s take on the matter; they feel that a lack of communication has added to the anger amongst students about the issue.
JCR President Andy Barnett said: “I was excited about enjoying a new bar for a year, then that became two terms and now it is only for a term.” The JCR also feel they should have been informed that work was going to be delayed, as they had socials planned in other halls and many off campus socials. Now they feel they have to change plans to accommodate for the period the bar will actually be closed.
Originally Communications Officer for Facilities, Louisa Duff said the design for the layout was changed and this was agreed with the college. However Barnett believes students were happy about the original designs and is frustrated with the lack of communication between them and facilities as they are only kept informed by the bar licensee and the college principal.
LUSU President Robbie Pickles has also said that there had been no communication with Students’ Union about the plans’ postponement. “There were no conversations with the Students’ Union, I only heard about the delay to the planned refurbishments from Andy. It is fair to say that this project has been put back twice now.”
Pendle second-year student Luka Vujicic feels that “the delay of the much-needed refurbishment is very disappointing”. He also comments on the disruptive effect of the building work taking place across campus currently. “The campus this term hasn’t been very welcoming to freshers”, he says. “Now with refurbishment to start mid-term things look [set] to get even more inconvenient and noisy.”