Home > UKCMRI > Successful public meeting rejects UKCMRI plan

Successful public meeting rejects UKCMRI plan

More than 80 people, mostly local residents, packed into the Somers Town Community Centre last night for the public meeting called by SPA to inform them about the UKCMRI development.

The mood was angry and determined, and the representatives to the huge medical research facility planned for the land behind the British Library were left in no doubt about their attitude towards the development.

Cllr Sue Vincent, chair of the development control committee, was listening as representatives of SPA, and local councillor Roger Robinson, outlined the many objections to the plan: that it ignored the long-standing plan for the site that it include 50% housing; that it blocks light and air for surrounding residents and will disturb their peace; that it overshadows and detracts from the highly valued listed buildings in the area and the site-line to St Paul’s; that it raises safety fears that are a grave concern to residents; and that it rides roughshod over local, national and international plans for reductions in carbon emissions.

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Categories: UKCMRI
  1. Kathy
    October 5, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    I was there last night and there was no more than 50 people. I wanted to hear what the developer had to say but the meeting was badly managed they were not allowed to speak without being shouted at and people were rude. It didnt impress me and i will be going to find out more now at the exhibition.

  2. Rob Inglis
    October 6, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Kathy, the crowd were nearer to 80 than 50. The hall was so full that four people who turned up at 8 o’clock were turned away because thre was no room. I can get them to verify this if you wish. Considering that UKCMRI said they wouldn’t speak, and then changed their mind 6 hours before the meeting, the meeting was exceptionally well conducted. I have had a complaint that the Chair David Oxnam(who in my opinion did a first rate job) was too lax with UKCMRI and allowed their speakers to avoid answering most questions addressed to them from the floor. I can get speakers from the floor who were so ignored by UKCMRI to comment if you wish. Any restlessnss was because of UKCMRI’s avoiding answering the questions addressed to them. Rob

  3. October 6, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    The meeting was crowded. As from the conduct of the meeting, I thought it was disgraceful that the chairman allowed Cooper to avoid answering the question “How would you feel if the research centre was being built in your road? by sitting passively while the crudest of distraction techniques was put into play to rescue Cooper from the highly embarrassing examination of his own position by allowing a a consortium crony to suddenly jump up and start talking about something completely different. There was also a general lack of intervention from the chairman when questions were evaded as they often were. . This is par for the course with meetings about Brill Place involving representatives of the consortium.

    The reasons given by the consortium’s representatives were feeble in the extreme, seemingly resting on being in the centre of London rather than operating from a site 15 minutes ride by train from Kings Cross. It appeared they wanted to substitute an ego trip for a short train trip.

    Most seriously, the question of security is still not being taken seriously. I have been attempting without success to get answers about the security arrangements for the proposed research centre since 2007. I have not asked for detailed accounts of their security, merely to know such things as whether the security staff will be employed directly by the centre; whether the staff will have been raised in Britain (vetting foreigners is in practise impossible); how cleaners (normally a weak point in security because they work at night when security is minimal); how toxic materials will be transported in and out of the centre and whether the security staff would be armed, something absolutely necessary if there is a threat of terrorist attacks especially if they involved suicide bombers. All these questions remain unanswered on the spurious grounds that they would endanger security.

    The real reason why the consortium will not comment is they do not have a clue about how their security will work. John Cooper gave the game away at last night’s meeting when he said that their security arrangements would not be decided for three years. It is absurd to allow people who have not considered in detail the security issues involved before submitting a planning application, not least because the design and situation of the building should be taking these issues into account as one of the primary drivers of the design.

    The security, both bio and anti-terrorist, is also compromised by the intention of the consortium to allow scientists who are not employed by the consortium to carry out research. These people could be either from non-profit organisations or private firms. This raises two security problems: the vetting of such people and the lack of a single authority responsible for the security of the centre. This is precisely what happened at Pirbright which was split between government and private business with no one in overall control. Come the foot and mouth outbreak of 2007 no one would take responsibility with both sides blaming the other.

    As for the nature of the viruses to be used, Cooper’s claim that the nothing more toxic than ‘flu viruses would be in the centre is misleading in two ways. First, ‘flu viruses can be extremely toxic, vide the 1918 ‘flu epidemic which swept Europe and caused more deaths than had occurred in military action during the Great War. Second, the consortium are seeking a level three licence which could allow other generally more dangerous viruses to be used.

    Cooper’s promise that nothing more dangerous than ‘flu viruses would be in the centre was meaningless, because, as he very grudgingly admitted, there would be legal bar to this policy being changed at some point in the future

    If this research centre is built it will be an accident waiting to happen.

    The meeting was crowded. As from the conduct of the meeting, I thought it was disgraceful that the chairman allowed Cooper to avoid answering the question “How would you feel if the research centre was being built in your road? by sitting passively while the crudest of distraction techniques was put into play to rescue Cooper from the highly embarrassing examination of his own position by allowing a a consortium crony to suddenly jump up and start talking about something completely different. There was also a general lack of intervention from the chairman when questions were evaded as they often were. . This is par for the course with meetings about Brill Place involving representatives of the consortium.

    The reasons given by the consortium’s representatives were feeble in the extreme, seemingly resting on being in the centre of London rather than operating from a site 15 minutes ride by train from Kings Cross. It appeared they wanted to substitute an ego trip for a short train trip.

    Most seriously, the question of security is still not being taken seriously. I have been attempting without success to get answers about the security arrangements for the proposed research centre since 2007. I have not asked for detailed accounts of their security, merely to know such things as whether the security staff will be employed directly by the centre; whether the staff will have been raised in Britain (vetting foreigners is in practise impossible); how cleaners (normally a weak point in security because they work at night when security is minimal); how toxic materials will be transported in and out of the centre and whether the security staff would be armed, something absolutely necessary if there is a threat of terrorist attacks especially if they involved suicide bombers. All these questions remain unanswered on the spurious grounds that they would endanger security.

    The real reason why the consortium will not comment is they do not have a clue about how their security will work. John Cooper gave the game away at last night’s meeting when he said that their security arrangements would not be decided for three years. It is absurd to allow people who have not considered in detail the security issues involved before submitting a planning application, not least because the design and situation of the building should be taking these issues into account as one of the primary drivers of the design.

    The security, both bio and anti-terrorist, is also compromised by the intention of the consortium to allow scientists who are not employed by the consortium to carry out research. These people could be either from non-profit organisations or private firms. This raises two security problems: the vetting of such people and the lack of a single authority responsible for the security of the centre. This is precisely what happened at Pirbright which was split between government and private business with no one in overall control. Come the foot and mouth outbreak of 2007 no one would take responsibility with both sides blaming the other.

    As for the nature of the viruses to be used, Cooper’s claim that the nothing more toxic than ‘flu viruses would be in the centre is misleading in two ways. First, ‘flu viruses can be extremely toxic, vide the 1918 ‘flu epidemic which swept Europe and caused more deaths than had occurred in military action during the Great War. Second, the consortium are seeking a level three licence which could allow other generally more dangerous viruses to be used.

    Cooper’s promise that nothing more dangerous than ‘flu viruses would be in the centre was meaningless, because, as he very grudgingly admitted, there would be legal bar to this policy being changed at some point in the future

    If this research centre is built it will be an accident waiting to happen.

    http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/
    olitics with the cant takenout

  4. Kathy
    October 6, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    I am afraid I disagree as I counted them I also considered that the speakers were not give the opportunity to make their case properly being shouted down or at for a lot of the time – but then this was essentially an objectors meeting – which incidentally I happen to be. So what that they changed their mind at least they came and at least the answered some of the questions presented particularly on the fact that they will not have deadly things like ebola, anthrax etc which that leaflet I was given stated – what rubbish that was. I am sure you will agree however that we must stick to the facts of the case because our letters will mean nothing if we write about things that are not truthful.

  5. Kate
    October 6, 2010 at 10:13 pm

    I thought one of the most interesting points of the evening – that the Director of the MRC facility at Mill Hill said he”didn’t know” why the facility could not be built on the existing site, which is ten times the size of the Brill Place site – should have been pushed further. He also ventured that “it might have something to do with the Green belt” but was totally unclear as to this option; none of his colleagues picked up the slack on that one. This indicates strongly that the project has not even considered siting this facility elsewhere – after all, if they can request that Camden allow them to depart from their planning brief, they can surely request the same of another planning designation, in a site potentially far more suited to this particular development?

    I did feel that some members of the meeting were unnecessarily hostile to the UKCMRI representatives, and think their behaviour did not reflect the spirit in which the meeting was held, for an open and non-personal debate.

  6. joe
    October 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    I attended the meeting. When it comes to rudeness I think John Cooper takes the biscuit, the man could even look at the audience when he spoke from the front of the room , mumbled, avoided questions and had three others with him to talk spuriously about how this was their last remaining site available for this work, despite having 30+acres in Mill Hill. As for his ludicrous attack on a leaflet he described as scare mongering, why he even had to eventually admit that all the pathogebns listed on the leaflet can be worked on in a level 3=+ bio containment facility.

    If any one is manipulating anyone it is the UKCMRI who in 3 seperate glossy magazines about the proposed lab fail to state that it will be a Level 3 + Bio containment facility!!! I have been to the open day and NO WHERE in their PR display do they mention bio containment or working on deadly air born viruses!! They are the ones being economical with the truth and they are the ones that are making no attempt at real consultation with residents public and indeed the infastructure around the site.

    British transport police were only informed of the plans some weeks ago, whilst no one has informed the NUR whose members are having their jobs slashed at the same time they will be expected to carry out safety duties in 2 of the biggest train stations in Europe right next door to this proposed building.

    Green belt issues MAY be the reason Mill Hill is being ignored as a possible site BUT remember Mill Hill is an affluent area without a disparate ignored population. Many residents of Somers Town speak limited English whilst those who are articulate in English have on the whole been totally ignored and never consulted.

    Who will be in over all charge of the building and its security? Who will be responsible for transporting deadly pathogens to and from the lab? Why will this building be secure when so many other BCF’s across the globe have had security breeches and leaks into the community of deadly pathogens.

    Why did Mr Cooper or his buddy Boris not answer how they would feel if it was built in their community? Simple, they could not give us an honest answer and lets face it such a proposition will never take place. This dangerous entity is perfect for a council estate, thats al the working class deserve in the minds of government.

    Mr Cooper stated they would only work on avian and swine flu. Both deadly. However he CANNOT STATE THEY WILL ONLY WORK ON THESES SUBSTANCES BECAUSE ONCE THE BUILDING HAS +s BCF CLASSIFICATION IT CAN UNDERTAKE WORK ON ALL SUBSTANCES LICENCED FOR WORK UNDER +3 CLASSIFICATION. At any point in the future the lab could work on a whole array of other deadly air borne viruses.

    Further more once again it is the working class who will have to live beside this proposed lab where having paid millions of pounds to build it after a corrupt land deal, the scientists will work on the deadly strains of influenza. Meanwhile no one even mentions the millions spent on a useless swine flu vaccination bought in their droves by the last government. Or the £116,000 annual income from Glaxo Smith Kline to Sir Roy Anderson who it just so happens sat on the SAGE committee ( Scientific Advisory Group For Emergencies) which recommended the previous government bulk buy what is now seen to have been a useless vaccination!!! But of course Glaxo Smith Kline still made billions out of it. You can bet you last pound that Mr Cooper and all the rest of these wealthy gentlemen will NEVER have to worry about any airborne disease reaching the nurseries of their children. Thats only for you and I.

  7. joe
    October 7, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Kathy,
    Lets make it abundantly clear. The leaflet of which you speak is NOT rubbish. Just because Mr Cooper says they will “only” work on avian and swine flu does not mean it is true. He is the head of a conglomerate that has patently failed to mention anything about bio containment in all their literature about the proposed lab. If it is built and has Level 3 + bio containment licensing then at any time they CAN work on any substance that falls within this classification. This includes ebola, SARS and a plethora of very nasty deadly diseases.

    The leaflet which you refer to brings up the question of security. Are you aware that of the 5 USA citizens killed and the 22 injured in the 2010 anthrax attacks in America, all the anthrax used had been stolen from a bio containment facility, Level 3 ? Are you asware that the World Health Organisation’s report into BCF’s suggests that they are a hazard to public health if not sited away from population centres? Are you aware of the regular leaks from small BCF’s across the world? Why would this super lab be any different? On at least 4 occasions in the last 5 years anthrax has been released into the atmosphere whilst in transit to BCF’s in the USA. If you think this is scare mongering do your own research. Here is a direct quote from the ~Innovation Universities and skills committee meeting in the House of commons 17.12.2007 :

    “Q69 Dr Iddon: Could I look at the other more important bio-security issue and that is category 3 or category 4 containment. My understanding is that the original plans for the Temperance site put in place a category 3 facility which was capable, I think, of handling avian flu, but in terms of this being one of the leading medical research centres in the world, would it not be better to gear yourselves up for the worst eventuality of handling category 4?

    Sir Leszek Borysiewicz: I am sorry, but I would defer that actually very much to Sir Paul Nurse’s committee because that is precisely the kind of question that he is going to have to address in the context of what is going to be undertaken on this site, so it would be wrong for me to actually prejudice the judgment that his group are likely to make in this regard. They will be proffering us advice on that area and we will be considering that advice very carefully.

    Q70 Dr Iddon: There is still room to put a category 4 facility in there.

    Sir Leszek Borysiewicz: It would have to be one of the considerations; I do not want to lock off that as a possibility from the advice that they may actually be able to give us, but having received that advice, as I have said before, we would certainly need to look at the security issues and the necessity for the build that would actually be required to deliver that safely and effectively at this location.

    Q71 Dr Iddon: Can we control extremely dangerous pathogens in a major city?

    Sir Leszek Borysiewicz: Yes, I believe we can. There are other locations, both within London and other major cities, that have major pathogens that are being very effectively monitored and controlled in this regard.”
    So they might even put a level4 BCF classification on it which is the highest level there is, and allows them to work on basically anything! They are not telling you ANY of this nor are they telling you that Leszek Borysiewicz belief that extremely dangerous pathogens can be worked on safely in a city environment is disproved by the very records and prosecutions of BCF’s across the world for a plethora of leaks and security breeches.
    The only rubbish spoken of this lab is by those who are trying to shoe horn it into a small site on a council estate between two train stations, and they are the EXPERTS!!!!!!

  8. October 8, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Emailed comment from Bootan:

    I arrived at the hall at 8 o’clock with three friends but the security told me: “The hall’s full. We can’t let you in”.
    I had worked late at the Cromer Café, where I manage and do the cooking. I wanted to read two excerpts to the meeting from my poem about the ‘superlab’. Here they are:

    ‘When trying out new recipes
    a cook knows pans may OVERFLOW’

    and

    ‘If better health is what you’re after
    Why run the risk of a DISASTER?

  9. October 10, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    Comment received by email:

    I disagree I think the UKCMRI were given plenty of time, he just hadn’t prepared properly, and was mumbling talking to the floor.

    P.S. The planning dept told me last night ,when I went in, that all the UKCRI plans were unlocatable, as were the York way skyscraper ones.

    Jenny G.

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