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David Peeks, Lancaster University’s Director of Commercial Services, will be leaving Lancaster later this year. In a statement, the University said that he was hoping “to further his career” after spending 12 years working here on trading activities. It is unclear if he is moving to a different job and no date has yet been announced.
A controversial figure amongst students, Peeks gained infamy in January 2008 as the central figure behind the University’s take-over of the college bars. Previously administered by college principals, the bars’ dwindling fortunes led to Peeks being installed as the manager of the licensees.
An extremely unpopular move at the time, this led to a number of protests by both LUSU and the Labour Club as well as casting Peeks in the limelight as a figure of fun. Beginning with a satirical pantomime performance by Cartmel JCR casting Peeks as the Big Bad Wolf demonising the Three Little College Bars, protest posters and political cartoons began to spring up depicting him in the same guise.
These protests were sparked by an article in SCAN which claimed that Peeks was a loss-maker in other departments under his remit. Subsequent to that report, Peeks took legal action against SCAN to clarify and apologise for the incorrect inferences in the article.
However, despite the negative publicity, his tenure with the bars has not been without success. Food integration in Cartmel and Fylde have seen some reversals in fortune and, whilst the bars have not been radically altered, they have also maintained financially stability, largely as a result of renegotiated opening hours.
The timing of his departure has drawn some people to suggest it may have a connection with LUSU’s proposal to run the college bars from next year. However, LUSU President Robbie Pickles denied this saying: “There is no reason why our bid would result in this move. David has a wide range of roles at Lancaster and there has been no conversation between Facilities and myself about his position.” He went on to say: “Myself and David have worked together on a number of positive initiatives during his time here and I wish him well for the future.
Although best known for his recent involvement with the bars, Peeks is also responsible for other University commercial activities including catering, conferences, the sports centre, the pre-school, FOLIO and the Post Office. The timing of his departure will see him leave just as the new Sports Centre is complete.
The statement went on to say that the search for a replacement had already begun although again it was unclear when they might be recruited.