SALISBURY MP John Glen has called for the Public Health England (PHE) to keep its state of the art medical facility at Porton Down instead of moving it to Harlow.
During a debate in Parliament he called for the Salisbury site to form a science corridor with the University of Southampton and Oxford to help continue leading the way in scientific research.
He said: “Imagine if the ambition of the universities of Oxford and Southampton to create a second corridor of excellence to rival Cambridge and London could be fostered.
“The project is not some blue-sky ambition proposed at the last moment, either. “There are signed expressions of interest from two multinational pharmaceutical companies and SMEs across the region.
“It is not a new project but one that has developed from existing working relationships.
“The University of Southampton, for example, is involved in more than 30 projects with PHE Porton, such as the one awarded $1.4 million by the US National Institute of Health last month to continue its groundbreaking work on tuberculosis treatments.”
It is feared that PHE will move the facility to Harlow due to its close links with both Cambridge and London.
Mr Glen also pointed out that many of the highly qualified scientists at Porton would be unwilling to move to a new location in Essex.
He added: “PHE Porton has some 3,750 years of scientific acumen relating to infectious disease in its ranks.
“Almost half of those individuals are operating above PhD level. PHE argues that new staff can easily be moved or recruited to Harlow and that it is a desirable place to work, but the fact remains that, when the staff at Porton were last surveyed, just 7 per cent, or one in 14, were inclined and prepared to move.”
Jane Ellison MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, responded by saying that the facilities at Porton Down need upgrading if they are to remain a centre on scientific research in the UK.
She said: “Scientists have been doing invaluable work at Porton Down since the 1950s, but its buildings are more than 60 years old and, based on independent surveys of the estate, they are increasingly unfit for purpose.
“We need to find a solution to that problem to ensure that this vital work is able to continue in top quality facilities.”