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Exec Spends £4.5k on Awning

Aug 06 2007 23:07
Ashley Brown
The new executive committee approved a spend of over £4.5k this evening to provide a sheltered location for smoking outside Beit.
The Entrance to Beit

Despite the Union's trading reserves being almost obliterated due to successive redundancy payouts in the restructuring last year, this year's executive committee has approved money for a new awning in Beit Quad. The plan presented to the previous committee would have seen £26k spent on awnings, with half coming from executive and half from ICU's trading operations.

New ICU President Stephen Brown presented the plan again at the first meeting of the new executive, causing the first major disagreement; hardly anybody in the room felt the cost should be borne from the executive's reserves, with the majority believing the money should come from the trading budget.

After a heated discussion between the committee and the ICU President the overall cost was halved, with executive's contribution reduced further to just over £4.5k.

The proposal for the awnings was pitched as a way to bring in new bar trade, by marketing the Union as a place where people could smoke in comfort. Patio heaters - widely maligned as environmentally unfriendly energy-sinks - are also being considered to provide a warm, sheltered space for smokers following the smoking ban coming into effect this summer. The extra traffic would come not only from staff and students returning to the quad, but through selling membership of the "ICU Refectory Club". The Refectory Club has been formed under new licensing conditions which permit the trading outlets to serve alcohol to members of the public if they buy membership.

An outside smoking area with patio heaters would seem at odds with at least two ICU policies, both the one from 2006 banning smoking in the building and the recently-passed environmental policy. College has also not ruled out making the entire campus smoke free, including a ban on smoking in the quad.

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Discussion about “Exec Spends £4.5k on Awning”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Aug 06 2007 23:19

Wrong decision, was the wrong one last time which is why the proposal was not accepted (although where are the minutes of that meeting?) and still is the wrong one. The ?4.5k is, after all, ultimately clubs' money that should be spent on student, not commercial, activity.

Aug 07 2007 09:01

"was the wrong one last time"? I thought there were enough interest last time, this is why it was investigated further - in particular whether the exec. reserve could be spent on this project as the reserve was suppose to be "ring fenced".

Aug 07 2007 10:20

I don't remember any mention of patio heaters being installed in either of the last two executive committee meetings. (Ineffective, energy wasting, idiotic pieces of junk...)

Aug 07 2007 10:53

It hasn't been mentioned in exec, but it has been mentioned outside of exec. It is, after all, an operational issue so there's no need to tell exec unless wanting to raid the reserve.

5. An0n   
Aug 07 2007 11:32

In fairness, smokers have a rights too, and who knows, it might inspire some of those chain smoking Medics to be sociable and become part of the real Union rather than being isolated.

As long as the awning isnt placed right outside the bar (which i dont think i can anyway), then surely it is being considerate to the needs of those students that DO smoke, without impinging on those that dont. IMO is a welfare issue as well as a trading one. And Union money spent on students doesnt just go to Clubs.

?26k would have been obcene..... ?4.5K i'd call that a reasonable compromise.

As for the patio heaters..... i know a few people that you wouldnt want to mess with who would have a thing or two to say about those!

Aug 07 2007 12:02

Where are you going to place an awning if not right outside the bar? Unless it isn't really an awning at all it needs to be attached to a wall, or will approximate a marquee. The most useful place for it would be ... right outside the bar. Conveniently, smoke could then ingress through the new doors that were put in last year (and put up a smoke barrier to entry through those doors).

There's also this of course: College has banned smoking near doors, which probably includes most of the front of North Beit.

7. Cat   
Aug 07 2007 12:29


That is a gross and unfair generalisation against medics. As a non-smoker and a medic I despise having to run a gauntlet of cigarette smoke to get into buildings which is an unfortunate side-effect of the July 1st legislation. I think college paying ?4.5k to accommodate an unhealthy habit amongst their students is totally irresponsible.

Aug 07 2007 12:46

Even worse, its essentially clubs paying to accomodate an unhealthy habit (exec reserve is topped up by the money clubs don't spend by the end of the year).

I thought trading was supposed to generate income to sustain itself and also generate extra profit for student activities and facilities? Why is the student end of the "business" subsidising trading?

If trading is no longer profitable why don't we just hand the lot over to Wetherspoons and be done with it.

Aug 07 2007 13:27

An0n, would those non-sociable chain smoking medics you are talking about be in the Reynolds building at all, where smoking is banned throughout the entire campus as it is an NHS site? The medics have nowhere they can smoke at all in the Reynolds building anyway...

The last time this came before Exec there was no clear consensus but there was significant opposition to it being paid for from the Exec reserve. This is a trading asset, it should be paid for from the trading reserve, not the Exec reserve.

If you read the original paper (, the awning is clearly intented to create a unique selling point for the refectory club, i.e. non-members. We are spending members' money on non-members. I don't necessarily disagree with getting the awning, but I do disagree with spending members' money on it.

10. An0n   
Aug 07 2007 13:33

@ Cat

Remember there is a VERY important difference between "College" and the "Union". You obviously missed my point about it not being placed in the way of other people, i would much rather have the smokers in an avoidable out-of-the-way area, than scattered about the Quad filling the entire place up with clingy smoke. Anyone who has tried to get into the Evelyn Gardens Office at House 44, which is also the entrance to Bernard Sunley Hall, will know the joys of navigating second hand smoke from those lighting up in the covered arch, and i have no doubt the phenomena is repeated arounc campus.

It is not unlikely that the government itself will extend the "ban" to areas including entrances/exits to public buildings or workplaces (already in place in many other countries, though i cant see it in our current legislation), backing up the College regs, so to place an expensive shelter for smokers in a place where it might conflict with this would be rather stupid indeed.

@ Engineer

If the extra profit from trading gets put back into student activities such as clubs & socs, then in the end does it matter WHERE the money comes from if it is going to be spent anyway..... the ?4.5k trading doesnt spend will end up back in the big pot as extra profit.

I think you will find trading (bars in particular) are pretty profitable, last year (06-07) a ?170k increase in trading profit income was posted, and posted a net profit of a little over ?122k, which went straight back into the Union, the figures are online if you want to look. Equaly importantly is the over ?500k in staffing costs, a substantial amount of which must have gone into the pockets of students struggling to get by on their student loan (i used to be one of them).

Aug 07 2007 13:40

The net profit doesn't go back into the union. It goes into the trading reserve which gets spent on improving the bars, or on redundancy pay when we get rid of all the bar staff (although I suspect part of that ?500k was redundancy pay).

I've heard it said many times that there is great opposition from trading to the students raiding their profits for student activities. The exec reserve is designed essentially the exec contingency fund, to run unbudgeted activities (such as the NUS referendum) and as a bail out in case of trouble.

If there was a ?122k profit, how can anyone justify raiding the "student" reserves for a "trading" activity? The money doesn't automatically become availble for students.

Aug 07 2007 16:33

as cat has already pointed out, the is irresponsible and, quite frankly a joke! i can't believe the union is, albeit not directly, endorsing smoking!

surely i, as a non-smoker, can now demand an equal amount of money to be spent on ventilation systems surrounding these areas so that, when i walk past, i dont have to stink like a mofo.

perhaps the sabbs have a habit which they couldnt be bothered to take a few steps further?

WASTED MONEY and the first FARCICAL decision by this year's sabbs. and so early on. oh dear.

13. Tris   
Aug 07 2007 17:13

It should be noted that, though I'm not entirely behind the decision, it is part of the masterplan and so is only an acceleration of what is already budgeted for.

In essence the only decision which we made was to _lower_ the amount spent on something which has already been decided on.

Aug 07 2007 20:52

Tris, an awning was part of the Masterplan but not yet. That is, however, a very good point; why, oh why, are we now spending members' money from subvention on a commercial part of the masterplan (especially when certain individuals in College, albeit not the College Sectretary (outgoing), have stated that no subvention money may be spent on commercial aspects of the redevelopment)? From the earliest inception of the masterplan it was always understood that the commercial aspects of the redevelopment would be paid for from commercial profits (I was there), why change now?

The decision made was not only to lower the amount spent but also to change where the money came from. To use a pot of money that is diminishing every year and is topped up by an ever smaller amount (thanks to clubs spending their money more efficiently) is irresponsible. Perhaps someone should consider appealing this decision to Council when it convenes in October, the way the last debate on smoking went it may be an interesting discussion (cue Court involvement and then the Trustee Board).

Aug 07 2007 21:57

So what if the college DO ban smoking throughout the entire campus?

Will this be a total waste of money?

Aug 07 2007 23:00

Why does everything have to be about smoking?? Have any of you been at the quad on Wednesday lunch time waiting for transport to go to the sports ground. Now that there is something over our heads, the sports teams don't have to gather in the bars or get wet outside. Is this not money well spent for clubs and socs?

Aug 07 2007 23:37

Because the awnings were pitched to the committee as being a way to attract smokers from all around the area, with a covered area in the quad being a "unique selling point". That is the point of spending the money.

Providing somewhere try for sports teams to meet is a good thing, but you'll probably turn up to your matches smelling of smoke with all the smokers in South Kensington there with you.

Would you prefer an extra ?4,500 spent on your activities, or the ability to congregate outside in the dry rather than inside in the dry?

Aug 08 2007 08:50

I am pleased with this decision. Firstly the awning will give our commercial services an extra selling point (at present ICU is one of the few bars in SW7 with the space for socialising outside AND with a dedicated smoking area) meaning that we will be reaping the financial benefits for years to come. Furthermore, it will give the hard working students at IC the chance to relax at the end of a hard days work with a well earned blend of the finest, smoothest, richest tobacco in a comfortable social environment. Nothing says that it is the end of a hard day more than a refreshing beer and a strong, comforting cigarette. And remember, there has been no statistically significant evidence that short term exposure to second hand smoke causes an significantly increased chance of lung cancer.

Aug 08 2007 12:02

yeh but a short term exposure to your mum has eben shown to cause a significantly increased chance of obesity!

Aug 08 2007 15:33

I do not feel that there was the need to bring my mother into this.

Can I remind you that this is a free country, and that smoking is a pleasure enjoyed by many of the population? This awning will please many of IC's smokers, and make it more attractive to nonstudents living/visiting the area, as it can be used as shade on a hot summers day whilst still having the pleasure of sitting outside.

Aug 09 2007 11:31

Whenever I hear people venting off about "smokers's rights" I always end up y-awning.

Aug 09 2007 20:24

I have a dream that one day smoking people and non-smoking people can drink together under a single awning of brotherhood.

23. Cat   
Aug 10 2007 16:47

@ Martin Luther Smoking

Not going to happen while non-smokers value their health!

Aug 10 2007 18:04

Though I strongly believe in bringing the public into the Union building to enhance our earnings, this seems a really strange thing for us to do.

Who cares where the money comes from (and Exec money is NOT club money), previously the Union has shown its stance on smoking by bringing in a smoking ban early. I personally was against that idea, but I HATE it when decisions made are inconsistent. How is designating an important social space of our students Union to smoking consistent with an early smoking ban?

Add onto that the unfortunate brown colour the awning would turn after not very long, plus the fact that, to be honest, unless the awning was huge smoke would end up getting back into the bars.

Its just a bad idea, even though it is costing an negligible ammount (and yes, for an exec spend this is small).

Aug 10 2007 19:56

The exec reserve is funded by unspent club money at the end of each year. It is meant to be used to further the activity of the union. It is not directly clubs money but is funded from clubs money and clubs money alone, this has always been taken to mean that this money should be restricted to use for student activity rather than commercial activity (which is funded from its own profits).

Aug 13 2007 13:26

Its ok, they'll design it to be mounted off a wall in a corner and after several poor redesigns it'll result in being classed as an enclosed space under the legislation and illegal to smoke in anyway.

Aug 13 2007 13:36

[email protected], for it to be a substantially enclosed space under the legislation it would need to have three walls and a roof. Whilst the awning will have a roof it will not be affixed to three walls, or even one for that matter, it is a floor standing design, see

Aug 13 2007 16:48

Actually it only needs to have more than 50% of the wall area enclosed, this is substantially less than three walls and a roof.

[ Fairly sure in Scottish legislation if any surrounding walls, hedges or fences are within 1.5m of the roofs edges they must be included when calculating the wall area of any enclosure, not sure if this is same in UK legislation]

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