The timescale and full extent of plans set out by the University to renovate Derwent bar remains unconfirmed, despite recent progress.
The impact of the renovation proposals may prove problematic for the JCRC’s plans, such as the Ron Weir Memorial Garden and next term’s Big D.
According to Jon Greenwood, Director of Commercial Services, the work will be completed within this financial year: “The project has not been fully costed yet but if it goes ahead, and this is not confirmed, the project will be in excess of £100,000.”
However, the project will need to be completed by the end of this academic year as financial law states that any expenditures need to be made by 31 July 2010, or the money will be reclaimed by the government. Concern about this deadline has been raised as the popular Summer term event, Big D, is scheduled for the beginning of July.
Holly Burton, Derwent JCRC Chair, has voiced her unease over the implications that construction or refurbishment work would hold over the event if work is started too late.
Regardless, Burton has been assured by the University that “Big D’ will happen”.
The bar renovation will also disrupt the JCRC’s plans for a memorial garden as an extension to D-Bar, dedicated to the late Derwent Provost, Ron Weir, particularly in terms of continuity of decorative style and the availability of event space to fundraise.
The JCR have already raised £8,000 for the project through alumni and fundraising, as the garden will not be funded by the University.
The University must start any renovations to the bar before the end of this term to ensure completion in time for Big D.
Nonetheless, students have expressed their enthusiasm for the renovation plans, with Burton commenting: “I’m confident – the plans look good and I’m confident it will happen. It’s just a question of when it will happen. In the long term it would be amazing.”
Tim Ngwena, YUSU President, also expressed his approval for the idea: “It’s great to see [that] the University has finally put its money where its mouth is. I hope the University doesn’t backtrack – all of a sudden they’ve pulled some money out of the sky to renovate bars – having to spend the money within this financial year would be an absurd excuse.”
However, the University has continued to emphasise that its current budget is under serious financial pressure due to the current economic climate and upcoming budget cuts, something which could significantly impact the likelihood of construction work.
Greenwood conceded that this was an issue, stating that “we would probably have to cut our cloth accordingly and do what we could with whatever money we are authorised to spend.”
On the University’s behalf, Greenwood also claimed that the final confirmation of the project relies both upon the JCRC having time to “comment on the plans”, and the fiscal impact the plans would have on the University, especially if the bar is completely closed for a long period in order to carry out construction work.
Greenwood has also exclusively released to Nouse the initiative for a bar focus group, which “whilst not able to agree changes to bars that involve large amounts of capital expenditure” will attempt to “implement local initiatives”.
The first focus group has led to “Commercial Services and the JCRCs working towards sharing both the costs and the profits of events.” The proportionality of the “sharing” remains undecided, but student feedback has been positive.