Tag Archives: construction


What with recruitment freezes (sorry, vacancy management controls!), Brexit and a departing VC, you’d think the university would be trying its hardest at the moment not to create any new enemies, but apparently not. We learn that Lancaster has recently managed to seriously upset Chris Packham and a gaggle of other bird fans, by allowing its contractors BAM to instal bird netting around the Health Innovation Campus site. As local ecologist David Morris noted on 23 April, via his Twitter account @JFDIecologist, ‘a month since 1st contact, @LancasterUni & its contractors @BAMConstructUK haven’t removed its bird nets despite repeated advice. Net management goes against the planning permission & hedge tonight has Blackbird & Wren within it. This is utterly poor practice. #NetsDownForNature’

Naming and shaming via social media has quickly prompted the university into action, with Morris reporting a week later that the nets would finally be removed. Unfortunately it seems that large sections of hedge have gone with them! Readers wanting to know why nets are so bad for wildlife are encouraged to read the recent RSPB article by Gemma Hogg at:



How difficult is it to lay some paving stones? Some members of the subtext collective have some domestic experience in this sort of activity. Patios have been laid without too many problems. So if this is actually your job of work, laying some paving stones as a professional contractor should be a ‘walk in the park’ or a perambulation along the spine. You would think. However, news has reached subtext that down the south end of campus, staff have witnessed the exact same set of paving stones being dug up and re-laid three times. Not quite comparable but the thought of delivering the same lecture three times until you got it ‘right’ would incur some disciplinary action – or perhaps not!


We’ve become so accustomed to the building work that perhaps we no longer see the effect of closing the roads and byways through the campus on those who aren’t so used to it. In particular, we greet closures of the access points to the University as normal. They aren’t. Memo to anyone who might be involved: the drive up to the University is a big selling point for the University, as anyone who has ever run an Open Day will tell you. Which is why we’re totally screwed when we close the road on Open Days. Maybe do it on one of the other three hundred and fifty-odd days available?

While the TV screen in Alexandra Square isn’t a vanity project to rank with the BorisBridge, it nevertheless ticks many of the same boxes. It has little utility and even less point, but it is large, striking and expensive. Leaving aside the fact that its position means that you can only see it from about 25% of the Square, what function does it serve, beyond giving visitors on Open Days something to remember us by? Meanwhile, there appears to be a screen that is almost as big but on wheels just sitting on the ground floor of the FASS building, with an even bigger box next to it. Is this part of the new ‘Resigned to the Spine’ plan, intended to be trundled up and down bearing well-meaning, inspirational messages like ‘THE SPINE HAS ALWAYS BEEN UNDER CONSTRUCTION’?

We note that one of the signs puffing the Spine renovation (no missus, it’ll be worth it, really, hang in there, sunlit uplands, only two more years of this to go, free pies for all, truly, it’ll be great, honest) promises the provision of ‘cutting edge space’. As opposed, we assume, to open space, deep space, hyperspace, safe space… What is this phrase supposed to evoke? We suspect that most people would settle for a space that was flat underfoot and had something overhead to keep the rain off, with maybe a nice picture on the wall. We also suspect that someone sold the University the idea of the giant TV by promising that it would make the Square ‘cutting edge’.

We’ve said our two penn’orth over the last months about the Spine renovation, so we thought we’d wait until it was finished before discussing it properly. (Oh, all right then, just one thought… is it perhaps just a tiny bit… big? Attached to the side of a Russian naval dockyard it’d be just grand, but… Ok, let’s wait and see.) But, there’s no harm in revisiting the question of what the County College folk have done to deserve a fifty yard run through the rain. Wheelchair users now have to cover the best part of 100 yards. Someone will sue.


Given the frequent cessation of construction on campus, with staff and students alike occasionally pausing outside fenced off areas with no workmen in them and thinking ‘why aren’t they DOING anything?!’ readers may not have noticed that construction work taking place around the Management School has been at a complete standstill since December 2017. According to a memo, sent out by Management School Dean Angus Laing, the pause in activity was to allow for ‘an examination of the programme’s objectives and costs.’ We have run this quotation through the subtext jargon translator, which produced the following: ‘turns out the project costs more than quoted and will take longer than estimated.’

Perhaps we oughtn’t to be cynical, but friends of the collective who work in the industry tell us that this sort of vacillating is part of its business model. Contractors woo businesses with a quick turnaround and a low price, pause in the middle of it after ‘realising’ that they need more time and money, and negotiate another pay bonanza. Is Facilities aware of this? We would hope so, although you would think that if they were, they would have the savvy not to distribute initial timescales and costs through internal communications. It isn’t helping Facilities’ reputation for appalling punctuality and financial imprudence.

The building work around the Management School will recommence in January 2019(?!), and the over-under on its completion date is currently late 2020.

subtext 176 – ‘for the avoidance of subtext’

Fortnightly during term time.

Letters, contributions, & comments: subtext-editors@lancaster.ac.uk

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In this issue: editorial, fash, more fash, gender pay gap, UA92 (in four parts), bad governance, more governance, assistant deans, appeal for more assistant deans, bomb shelter update, grad ball, alternative grad ball, lu text lost and found, email, lusu agm, look at what you could have won, letters.



We’ve had a relaxing vacation spent spring-cleaning the subtext warehouse and enjoying the beer garden experience far more times than is good for us. So much so, that the subtext collective is a little disappointed with what it’s had to return to.

Sure, it’s summer term, and that means flowers, fun events and fluffy ducks chirping away on the University’s bucolic parkland campus. But this year, we also have to contend with high-decibel jackhammering, widespread dust and destruction, discord over where students should hold their balls, continued chipping away at our democratic governance structures, and – oh yes – more fascism on campus. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, you all have to put up with subtext going on about it all every two weeks!

All that aside, welcome to summer term 2018 – we wish you a very happy one!


The construction work on campus continues to be a logistical and auditory nightmare for staff and students alike. Many tutors have complained about the ‘bomb shelter experience’, but while most of us can find ways to get away from the noise, let us spare a thought for the poor souls who have slunk off to do some transcribing, only to find that they can barely hear their interviews over the sound of machinery on their dictaphones.