Lab to be economic powerhouse

January 12, 2001

The future of the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire could be secured through closer links with local industry and an independent management team, according to a report being studied by ministers.

The report, which has been handed to trade and industry secretary Stephen Byers, is also thought to recommend the establishment of a council to look after the science base in the Northwest.

The report was produced by the Northwest Science and Daresbury Development Group, created by Mr Byers last June to look at the role Daresbury could play in boosting the Northwest's economy.

The move came in response to criticism of the government's decision to build a next generation synchrotron x-ray source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire instead of at Daresbury, putting more than 500 jobs at risk.

Dave Watts, MP for St Helens North and a member of the NWSDDG, confirmed that the report recommended closer links with local businesses such as biomedical, pharmaceutical and chemical companies. The laboratory is currently run by the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils, but the report is thought to recommend that it become independent.

Graham Bushnell-Wye, the Institution of Professionals, Managers and Specialists union spokesman at Daresbury, said that he would welcome any recommendation that secured jobs and guaranteed the future.

"The Office of Science and Technology has written us off. Anything from the DTI will be welcomed by the majority, even if it involves significant changes."

The government is expected to issue a response to the report in the next few weeks.

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