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#SaveOurSugarBus: A Petition to Preserve Student Safety in Lancaster

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Amidst all the excitement of the LUSU-owned Sugarhouse nightclub opening back up this year, numerous students have been deeply upset by the announcement that the famed ‘SugarBus’ – a free, late-night bus travelling between the Sugarhouse and University Campus – has been cancelled. 

Among those with concerns about the cancellation of the service and the effect that it will have on the student population is Lancaster University Politics Society. In a bid to act on their fears surrounding student safety, lack of adequate transport alternatives and hypocritical LUSU policy and practice, LUPS have proposed a petition to the Student Union, asking them to reconsider their decision to cancel the service. 

A premier reason for the petition is the issue of student safety: especially for new freshers who live on campus and aren’t well acquainted with Lancaster and the availability of transport between town and the university. The ‘SugarBus’ was a free, safe and accessible way to ensure their safe return to on-campus accommodation after a night out, its removal risks leaving campus-based students stranded in town late at night with very few transport options.

The alternative night bus service between the Sugarhouse and campus, suggested by the Student Union, is only available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. This leaves students coming back from Sugarhouse after 1 AM on Wednesdays (when most society activities take place) with the only alternatives of ordering a taxi back to the campus – a service which is in very short supply compared to the number of students in Lancaster and could see students waiting upwards of an hour – or walking home. 

With the likelihood of alcohol consumption considered, leaving students to endure a long wait for a taxi service or to brave the hour walk home (which is poorly lit in parts and ergo potentially dangerous for intoxicated individuals at night) has been interpreted by LUPS as a violation of one of LUSU’s core values of “courage” where, on their website, they pledge “decisions are made in the best interests of Lancaster students, present and future”.

Andrea Ando, Treasurer of the Law Society, made further comment saying they: “think the SugarBus is a great way to guarantee (or at least try to) the safety of students after they leave the Sugarhouse.”

Sugar is notorious for being one of the safest nightclubs in the country, having received the ‘Best Bar None’ award, which recognises Student Unions for their commitment to late-night student safety. However, LUSU’s decision to remove the ‘SugarBus’ service in the wake of the tragic cases of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa contradicts this commitment to late-night student safety.

Lancaster University Politics Society, at the very least, feels that the actions of LUSU “sends a clear message that LUSU does not care about student welfare and safety.”

The cancellation of the ‘SugarBus’ is – in part – a result of financial difficulties caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and closing of the Sugarhouse, however LUPS argues that the immediate cancellation of the service with no untested form of subsidiary, like a possible £1 increase of entry prices into the Sugarhouse to pay for the bus or the requirement of a small fare for the service, is unacceptable. “The cancellation of the SugarBus should have been a last-resort,” LUPS commented.

We approached the Student Union on the matter and they responded with the following response:

“Owing to the severe financial consequences of COVID and the subsequent lockdowns the Students’ Union has had to make some very difficult decisions about the services it offers and the SugarBus was one of them.

“We have done everything we could to ensure that your nightclub opened this year. In the event of any further lockdowns or increased restrictions we would suffer severe losses if the SugarBus contract had been renewed.

“The Sugarhouse prides itself in being the safest venue in Lancaster. We are listening to our members over this and will be exploring ways of providing a service.

“However, there is a significant cost involved in that and we will need to consult with students on how we do it in an affordable way.”

LUSu Spokesperson

The petition to re-introduce the ‘SugarBus’ has been proposed today and aims to either fully reinstate the transport or provide a safe alternative or way of funding the service. 

It can be found under the hashtag #SaveOurSugarBus and LUPS urges all students who want to support it to sign the petition in hope of invoking action from the Student Union. 

Follow the link below to sign the petition:

https://lancastersu.co.uk/thestudentvoice/save-our-sugarbus

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