Manchester City Council

Big Science

Although the Council Executive meets tomorrow, much of this week is about tying up loose ends, emptying or at least checking there's nothing badly overdue in the in-tray, and making sure advice cases are up-to-date. So yesterday morning was a little bit out of the ordinary then, a trip for an early morning meeting at the Daresbury Laboratory. Science seems to becoming very much more popular nowadays. Engineering, Chemistry, and Physics - especially Physics - courses are heavily oversubscribed, and a good thing to. Economically and environmentally, we need more and more people able to invent and to innovate with ideas that help create a low-carbon knowledge based economy.

I was at Daresbury for the first meeting of the Daresbury Science and Innovation Centre Enterprise Zone Board. The Daresbury Enterprise Zone is I think unique as it was the successful result of a joint bid by two Local Enterprise Partnerships, Manchester and Liverpool. Although very much in Cheshire, Daresbury lies just within the boundaries of Halton Borough Council which is part of the Liverpool city-region so perhaps not surprising that the Mersey side LEP supported the bid. A liittle surprising that Cheshire didn't, but you might want to ask why the Manchester LEP was such an active promoter of an economic development scheme so far out of the city-region's boundaries. The answer is Big Science. What I'm really talking about are scientific facilities that are so costly, they cannot be replicated all over the place. An obvious example, very much in the news at the moment, is the Hadron Collider at CERN, of which there is only one, and only likely to ever be one, in the world, and so attracts particle bashers from all over the world to use it. Daresbury has some facilities, not on the same scale, that do attract a wide group of users. As along with Harwell, it is one of only two sites designated as part of the National Science and Innovation centre, it has the potential to attract further investment in Big Science. That's unlikely to happen any where else in the North West or indeed the North of England, which is why Manchester is happy to be a Daresbury supporter.

There are 6 responses to “ Big Science”

  1. Dave Says:

    well said Sir Richard, everybody should support such innovative ideas and get our country back on par with the rest of the world, lets put the Great back into Great Britain, we should lead by example and let others follow, shame on you Cheshire, well done Manchester and Liverpool.

  2. Jimbo Says:

    Hi Dave, before you critcise Cheshire it might be best to find out why they didn't invest. They may have had very valid reasons for not. It's very difficult for any publically funded body to warrant such investment in the context of extensive job losses. I am suggesting there is no value in the project, I am saying that they may have conflicting priorities that don't enable them this time around. Yours Jimbo

  3. Dave Bishop Says:

    Yes, let's have more scientists and fewer bankers and other economy wrecking financial 'wizards'!

  4. anon Says:

    I do agree that it is important that we have world class scientific facilities in our region. But I'm not quite sold on the idea of supporting an Enterprise Zone which is little more than a series of tax breaks and public subsidies to drive commercial development on the back of the facilities, rather than enhance the scientific infrastructure in its own right. I understand that this is all about creating a critical mass of expertise and activity in the wider region but it would be interesting to know more about the nature of the stake Manchester has in the Daresbury Campus and how this translates into commercial and employment benefits within the city-region. There must be suitable case studies of local companies that have benefitted from research carried out there? Or companies that have moved off from the Daresbury Campus and located into the Manchester area? Or local companies that feed into the supply chain or otherwise interact with firms on the Campus? Or the proportion of people that work at Daresbury but live in the Manchester area?

  5. anontoo Says:

    Anon, don't expect Sir Richard to answer your valid and pertinent questions. He is very selective about which questions he responds to. I agree with your doubts about enterprise zones
    (a favourite of the Tories in the 80's and much more about tax breaks and cheap labour for business than sustainable growth and employment in depressed regions).
    The tactic of the using the preface 'big' is also a Tory idea.
    The use of the phrase 'it has the potential to attract further investment in Big Science' is notable and I say we should all get involved with this Big Science project and do our own experiment of watching it closely and analysing the data, as it progresses.

  6. Joe Says:

    I read recently that there is not one University left still offering a degree course in botany. What does this tell us about our green and plesant land?

 

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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