MP says: clear up Daresbury

October 6, 2000

A northwest MP has called on the government to clear the confusion over the future of the Daresbury Laboratory, saying he does not want the area to be thrown into turmoil again.

Michael Hall, MP for the Weaver Vale constituency that covers Daresbury, said: "We've not yet had a clear affirmation of the location of the synchrotron. Although there's no indication France will pull out, it's 99 per cent certain that they'll build their own. There are lots of rumours going about."

Uncertainty has again clouded the Pounds 500 million UK synchrotron project following France's announcement in September that it would build a third-generation machine of its own. The government decided in March to site the new synchrotron at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, leaving 500 Daresbury workers unsure of their futures.

Local MPs accused the government of bowing to pressure from partners the Wellcome Trust and the French.

Talks have since taken place between the French research minister and his UK counterpart Lord Sainsbury about the "possibility of the UK participating" in the French project.

But Daresbury Transport and General Workers Union spokesman Vincent Goulding said: "The French have all but in name pulled out." He approached trade minister Stephen Byers at the Labour Party conference, asking the government to honour its promise that it would review its decision if France pulled out. He said he was still waiting for a response.

Mr Hall added: "It would be farcical if both governments were contributing the same amount to each other's (synchrotron projects). We've drawn up an exciting plan to keep the laboratory open and secure jobs without the synchrotron. But it will be difficult if the whole thing is thrown into turmoil again."

Meanwhile, a review of science in the northwest, commissioned by Lord Sainsbury in the wake of the decision to build the synchrotron at the RAL, has reported back. It is expected to be published with a response in the next few weeks.

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