Exclusive Interview: SCAN asks YOUR questions about selling Sugar

Lancaster SU answer your questions in response to the proposed Sugarhouse sale.

Following the announcement on Friday evening that the Sugarhouse is potentially going to be sold, there has been a series of reactions. From James May tweeting his input to student’s raising online petitions, the weekend has been filled with student’s making themselves heard.

With the hopes of bringing those student voices some answers, this afternoon SCAN interviewed a SU spokesperson who has responded to questions submitted by students on social media .*

This is what they had to say.

Why has this decision been made, and what is the SU’s rationale behind it?

I think that was set out in the initial statement that has gone out on our website, the changes to the area around the Sugarhouse with the growth of more accommodation there along with the changes to student habits and things like this. With the growth in accommodation, it makes the Sugarhouse’s long-term future more questionable, and that the Students’ Union has to consider offers like this as the procedure, as part of its duty towards the best interests of the students. Not just now, but in the long-term, and any profits from the sale will be put back into student services. 

Following from that, if the money from the sale will go back towards the students, can you give any indication of what those student services or experiences will be? 

I don’t have an answer to that, and at this point, it’s too early to say what shape they might take. I know that there is an intention to consult the students about how the funds from the sale can best benefit them, so I think there’s a desire to have student input into that going forward. 

You mention that you will consult students on what to do with the money from the sale, but as the petition on the SU website has now reached enough to hold a referendum, will student’s get a say in whether the Sugarhouse is sold or not?

Well, there is a procedure for holding a referendum, and the Students’ Union will follow those procedures correctly. 

And will those procedures involve a consultation with the student body at all? 

The Chair of Executive Committee can confirm the receipt of the petition submitted via the Students’ Union website and that it has passed the 150 signature threshold for the matter to be debated at the Executive Committee.

Whatever the procedures are for a referendum and the outcome of a refurendum, they have been referred for discussion. They will follow the normal procedures that any referendum would take at Lancaster. 

Is there a timeline on these plans?

This process is a negotiation, so it is commercially confidential, so it’s not something we can put an exact timeline on. As far as I’m aware, it’s business as usual for the immediate future, for freshers week and so on. 

Concerns have been raised about the safety of students on nights out, as Sugarhouse is currently the only student-only nightclub. What plans do the SU have to address this?

I think that’s too early to say; this is still at the negotiation stage. Going forward, the Union will be talking about how any proceeds from the sale are spent for the wants and benefits of students. 

Why did the SU continue to promote sugar at the recent open day to future applicants with the knowledge that it will be closing?

At the moment, the Sugarhouse is opening; we are only in that negotiation stage as I said. A sale hasn’t occurred, and the Sugarhouse is still there. 

Is money the primary motivation for this sale?

No, the motivation is for the long-term interest of the students, not just current students but students going forward from this. And that is the duty of the Students’ Union, to look after the interests of students, now and in the future. Certainly not motivated by money.

If the motivation was for the benefit of students, why were students not consulted about the potential sale of Sugarhouse?

Students are represented on the Trustee board, that is their voice there. So students were represented through that. 

Want to have your say? Let us know using the contact form below.

* These questions have been edited by SCAN to reflect the variety of questions submitted. Thank you to everyone who sent us questions.

Ruth-Anne Walbank

My name is Ruth, and I'm the Editor of SCAN for 2019-20. I have been the Arts and Culture Editor in 2018-19, and the Deputy Arts and Culture Editor before that. I've written over 80 articles for SCAN across a variety of sections.
If you have any questions about the newspaper, feel free to message me!

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