Students’ Union announces £11,000 loss days after controversial dismissal of longest serving staff members

This was originally posted, along with my Scott Trust Bursary application (for MA Broadcast Journalism at City University, London) as an original article within a 200-word limit on 28th February 2011. Wish me luck!

SURHUL’s Commercial Services Department has declared a deficit of £11,000 in just six weeks of trading. Details of the dramatic loss, which were sent in an email marked as confidential to all student staff members, have been released less than a week after two permanent staff members were controversially made redundant.

An e-mail from the Commercial Development Manager, Sarah Stuckey, was sent on Friday afternoon. The email outlines the deficit to be “equivalent to a loss of approximately £300 per day” following a stock take on 14th February 2011. A further alarming comparison is made by Ms Stuckey when she says that “it is equivalent to giving away free of charge every drink, ticket and piece of food served last Friday, day and night, at all [three] venues.”

Including wastage of £1750 and a staff drinks allocation of £2269, the £11,000 in unaccounted stock totals a gross loss of over £15,019. Ms Stuckey resolves to tighten supervision and suspend complimentary end-of-shift drinks for staff. Managers will be performing random line checks on the bar, and till checks on all venues whilst reviewing CCTV footage.

Ms Stuckey assures staff that management “have spent time investigating reports to ensure this is not a data entry error in accounting, re-counting stock to ensure accuracy, and reviewing CCTV to identify…any large scale thefts from stock areas” but admits that there were “no significant findings”.

This follows the forced redundancy of two of the longest serving and most senior members of SURHUL’s management team last week, in a ‘restructuring’ exercise. Matt Breed, Bars & Venues Manager, and Mark Austin, Entertainments Manager, lost their jobs after an investigation into the staff management structure resulted in ‘no alternative’.

Sean O’Donnell, SURHUL’s General Manager wrote an email to staff proposing the new structure on 11th January 2011, stating that “the student sector within licensed trade has witnessed further changes in the market as a result of changing student demographics” and that the restructure leaves SURHUL “positioned to react to these changes in a timely fashion to best provide for our membership”.

However, in a later email, it was announced that the SURHUL is advertising to hire four new members of managing staff, with a cumulative salary of over £90,000, along with plans to hire a fifth manager once the initial four are in place.

EDIT (31 March 2011): In this article, it could be inferred that the dismissal of Mark Austen and Matt Breed were either consequences of, or that Mr. Austen and Mr. Breed were identified as responsible for, the £11,000 missing stock.  This is incorrect.  The restructuring of SURHUL’s Commercial Services is also unconnected to the loss of stock, and should not be taken as a result of SURHUL’s recent findings.