Last month’s CG (CG37) revealed that up to ten new cafés will open on campus, and that, going on previous choices, these are likely to be Costas or Starbucks. Since then, it’s emerged that the UCL Council’s Treasurer sits on the board of Whitbread PLC, who own Costa Coffee. Simon Melliss, who also chairs UCL’s Finance and Investments committees, joined the Council at the beginning of 2012. Since then, a Costa Express self-service machine has been installed on campus – in addition to the Costa cafés already housed in Bentham House and the Engineering Building.
UCL say no new Costa or Starbucks outlets have been planned yet, but they are currently in the “early stages of competitive procurement of catering providers”. Which companies emerge successful is likely to be announced by the end of this year or the beginning of next. Having been a Whitbread PLC board member for almost six years and currently chairing their Audit Committee, Melliss’ involvement in the decision making process would clearly constitute a conflict of interest. And yet, UCL have not ruled this possibility out – saying it could not confirm whether or not he will be involved.