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.