Email from David Chandler

Email from Dave Chandler

----- Original Message -----
From: "Chandler, David"
Sent: Thursday, April 01, 2010 7:54 PM
Subject: RE: Stop the Closure of Wellesbourne

i spoke at length yesterday with lord taylor of holbeach and john beddington in london, also with steve visscher of bbsrc, and we had jeremy wright (MP kenilworth, HRI comes within the new constituency of southam and kenilworth that he is contesting)visit hri this morning. This afternoon i spent an hour on the phone with a warwick labour party person who is seeing James Plakett tonight and he will discuss HRI with him.

It is fair to sy that all these people are v concerned about HRI. I pressed beddington to speak with Benn and to get Benn to pull forward his scheduled meeting with Nigel Thrift (which is currently scheduled for early May ...). There is an issue with timetables in that the House is going to be suspended for the election on tuesday. Hilary Benn obviously remains in post as minister but Beddington says that as from tuesday he will be wrapped up with the election and won't therefore be in a position to respond to anything from beddington. The message from Taylor and Wright is to keep campaigning about HRI but that serious discussions with politicians won't start till may 7th. However Wright will schedule a meeting now with Thrift for after may 6th (based on the assumption that he gets reelected which is likely). In the meantime Lord taylor has invited the 2 people from warwick who are working on the business plan for a Crop Research Centre to see him at the Lords next week.

This timetable and the election of course makes things very hard indeed for HRI staff because the "at risk" notices to the academics go out from the 19th april with confirmation at the end of may.

So my feeling is that for the moment we generate as much publicity as we can about the threat to HRI and its implications for the UK science base and ag / horticulture, including of course the brilliant stuff you guys have written about the drivers forcing universities to concentrate on high impact factor journal papers at the expense of useful, practical real world science etc. This means getting in the newspapers, TV, radio, a letter to Nature etc. Then as from May 7th serious lobbying of MPs has to start, bearing in mind there will be only 3 weeks till final redundancy notices go out from warwick. Staff at HRI will do as much lobbying as we can but if you guys can influence too that will be incredibly helpful. I think the list of arguments that you are all developing for retaining HRI is of vital importance, i would like to see it written up as a briefing document for politicians, beddington and the media. It is of course of much wider relevance that just HRI. I'm sure you are as aware as I am that the UK agri-food-environment research base is on its last legs, with the threatened closure of HRI, the redundancies at IBERS and the likelihood of redundancies at Rothamsted this year, not to mention problems at Ryton.

Charlie I have some useful information I will send you tonight or tomorrow (I wrote a briefing document for Jeremy Wright which has information on the rationale for the merger with Bio Sci and the consequences, which i will send you). I mailed my cousin last night who's the deputy news editor for the Sunday Telegraph trying to get him to run a piece, i'll keep at him (he owes me for all the times i had to baby sit him). I am away next week but hope to have email access.

finally, i want to emphasise that it is not too late to save HRI. We are still alive and kicking and bringing in research income and doing excellent science. We can retain the science and the scientists, it just requires people like us to put the arguments to the right people and influence the key decision makers. And i am 100% convinced that we can acheive this.


dave chandler