The United Kingdom Centre for Medical Research and Innovation

No 10 ‘interfered to push through £600m plan for virus superlab’

January 20, 2011
1 Comment
London Evening Standard
  
Mark Blunden
20 Jan 2011

Campaigners against a maximum security “superlab” in the heart of London are calling for a parliamentary inquiry claiming that there was political interference in the bidding process.

The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation, behind the British Library in St Pancras, will be capable of containing flu viruses, malaria, tuberculosis, cancer cells and HIV.

Residents living close to the centre are calling for an inquiry into the £600 million project after Cabinet Office emails, seen by the Standard, revealed that the previous government was keen to “make it happen” before the tendering process had closed.

They also claim Camden council failed to inform residents fully of the severity of the diseases to be tested at the 3.6 acre site and is stonewalling their questions.

Today, it can be revealed that in July 2007, Jeremy Heywood, a Cabinet Office civil servant, emailed officials, including the Department of Health and the Chief Scientific Officer, stating: “The PM (Gordon Brown) is very keen to make sure the government departments are properly co-ordinated on this project – and that if there is a consensus that this is indeed an exciting project, then we do what we can to make it happen.”

The email, released under the Freedom of Information Act, was sent the week before the first bids were due in and six weeks before the shortlist was finalised.

Other documents reveal that among 27 competing proposals for the site were a multi-faith centre and hundreds of affordable homes in a borough with 18,000 people on its housing waiting list. Both of these proposals complied with Camden’s brief for the site, but it is alleged the superlab initially did not.

Resident Robert Henderson, a retired civil servant, 63, said: “Camden went against their own original plan for a mixed-use development.

“There’s been political interference with the bidding process as well as the grave security issues. There should be a parliamentary inquiry because £250 million of public money is at stake.”

Read more at

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23915802-no-10-interfered-to-push-through-pound-600m-plan-for-virus-superlab.do

Letter sent to Evening Standard 21 Jan 2011
 
Sir,
 
I can expand upon Mark Blunden’s report “No 10 ‘interfered to push through £600m plan for virus superlab'” (20 Jan) .  
I am the person who obtained the evidence of Brown’s interference using the FOIA. I have a mass of documents showing that Brown was pressing for the sale to UKCMRI before the formal  bidding process had ended and afterwards before a formal decision was made. Here is an example of the documents: 

  Sent: 27 November 2007 13:09

To: HOLGATE NICHOLAS

Cc: _[40]_____________

Subject: RESTRICTED – Land to the North

 Hi Nicholas,

 Jonathan spoke to Jeremy Heywood this morning. Jeremy said he needed the bid to be agreed by next Wednesday – 5 Dec (or Thursday latest) as PM wanted to get MRC in then (or possible public announcement.

Jonathan explained that there are two issues from our point of view: .No revised formal offer has been received by DCMS .HMT are not being helpful of recycling returns – without an improved offer from HMT JS said it would he v hard to justify.

JR said he thought the offer was sent to us yesterday – have checked but nothing in JSs post or email – JH will chase. JH also said he would go back to HMT to see what  more they can do, but that ultimately PM may have to arbitrate.

 Cheers

 Private Secretary  to Jonathan StephensDepartment for (Culture, Media and Sport 2-4 Cockpur Street, London SWlY) 

  This was a public bidding process. The decision was supposed to rest with the the Minister heading the DCMS. Brown as Prime Minister should have played no role in the decision. There were 28 bidders of whom 9 were placed on the short list. It would be interesting to know how they feel about the conduct of the bid.

  

Yours sincerely,

  

Robert Henderson

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Notification of planning irregularities to Boris Johnson

January 14, 2011
4 Comments

Boris Johnson esq

Mayor of London

City Hall

14 January 2010

Dear Mr Johnson,

                        The United Kingdom Centre for Medical Research and Innovation  (UKCMRI)

You have sanctioned the building of a very large research facility on land behind the British Library (the Brill Place site). You have made this decision in ignorance of the irregularities which have taken place in the handling of both the sale of the site by the DCMS  and the handling of  the  application for planning permission by Camden Council.

The sale of the land

It is clear from documents I have received from the  Cabinet Office, the Treasury, the DCMS and Camden Council through FOIA requests that Gordon Brown when Prime Minister in interfered illicitly with the public bidding process. The decision on the sale of the land was meant to be entirely in the hands of the DCMS and decided on the criterion of “value for money”.   The documents I have received under the FOIA make clear that Brown not only made it clear that he wanted the site sold to UKCMRI,  but took steps to insure it happened. He was doing this before the official bidding process was closed.  That rendered the bidding process a sham. On the face of things, a fraud would appear to have been perpetrated against the failed bidders  and the British public.  

Camden’s handling of the application for planning permission.

I submitted a most comprehensive objection to the application. This,  contained amongst other things,  the details of Brown’s interference with the sale of the land and the level of biohazard  likely to be used on the proposed site.  The report prepared by the Camden planning officers for the planning committee  excluded any mention whatsoever of Brown’s interference with the sale of the site and omitted mention of the probable level of biohazard which would be introduced to the research centre if it is built.

UKCMRI claim that there will be no biohazard level 4 toxins on new site. However, the leading member of the  consortium, the Medical Research Council,  currently has a level 4 licence on its Mill Hill site. UKCMRI have confirmed that the site is to be sold once the new centre is built and the MRC work moved to the Brill Place site. It is not unreasonable to suppose that level  4 work will be undertaken at  the new research centre.  The Council report failed to mention this information despite it being included in my objection to the planning application.  Moreover, UKCMRI have introduced the concept of biohazard level 3+ which they say will cover some of their work. This appears to have no official standing and the suspicion must be that it is level 4 in disguise.

The failure to include these centrally important matters in the planning officer’s advice to the planning committee members is a serious irregularity and  should nullify the planning permission.

Supporting documentation

To allow you to verify what I am saying I enclose my notification of the irregularities in Camden’s handling of the planning application. These include the documents which demonstrate  Gordon Brown’s interference with the sale of the site.  

In view of these various serious  irregularities,  I ask you to remove your sanctioning of the Camden planning permission.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

 ————————————————————————-

17 December 2010

Mr Nasim Ali

Leader

Camden Council

CC all other Camden Councillors

    Neil MacDonald (Planning Officer)

    Aiden Brooks (Lawyer)

Dear Mr Ali,

Development Control Committee 16 12 2010 Town Hall 7.00 pm

Subject: The granting of planning permission to ULCMRI for a research centre on land behind the British Library. (The discussion of the planning application a ran approximately between 7.15-9.45 pm) (Application Ref: 2010/4721/P, Associated Ref: 2009/2565/NEW)

In my objection to the planning application I included the fact that Gordon Brown when Prime Minister had illicitly interfered with the bidding process for the land on which the research centre is to be built. This was not some fancy on my part,  but irrefutable fact based on civil service documents which I obtained using the Freedom of Information Act. These were included with my objection to the planning application.  A copy of the relevant section of my objection together with the necessary supporting documents is at the bottom of this email.

Despite this irrefutable proof of the contamination of the bidding process – Brown was interfering even before the formal bidding process was over – no mention is made of Brown’s interference in the Camden Officer’s report – see section 4.41 “Objections”. Nor was any mention of Brown’s interference made by the case planning officer Neil MacDonald in his summary of the case last night or by any other speaker,  whether council officer, councillor or deputation member.

The failure to bring this very important objection to the planning application invalidates the granting of the permission. Apart from nullifying the sale of the land to UKCMRI, the other bidders,  who made their bids in good faith,  would have the opportunity to seek compensation from the government and also from Camden if the building goes ahead. Camden could be liable because they have both been advised of the difficulty and have excluded that advice from the formal submission on which the Development Control Committee.

This brings me to why my objection on the grounds of Gordon Brown’s interference was omitted from the officer’s report. There are only two rational explanations. First, that the objections of private individuals were never read and the Camden officers responsible simply guessed at what the objections would be. Second, that the omission was a deliberate political act of censorship. Please write to me and tell me (1) which of these two explanations is the true one, (2) what action you will be taking against the culprits and (3) what you intend to do about the illegitimately granted planning permission.

There is a second area of concern. Section 4.46 cites UKCMRI as never going beyond level 3+ viruses.  This very dubious. Let me cite a section from my objection to the planning application:

“There is good reason to believe that toxins officially classified as more dangerous than influenza will be used. The MRC site in Mill Hill – the site Brill Place is meant to replace –  has 11 laboratories licenced for level 3 biohazards and one licensed for level 4 biohazards (see document 3).  The license for level 3 work allows the following to be used for research:

Biohazard Level 3: Bacteria and viruses that can cause severe to fatal disease in humans, but for which vaccines or other treatments exist, such as anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, SARS virus, variola virus (smallpox), tuberculosis, typhus, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Among parasites Plasmodium falciparum, which causes Malaria, and Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes trypanosomiasis, also come under this level.

The consortium is applying for level 3 licenses for the proposed medical centre. Once they have these they can work on any of the viruses and bacteria listed above regardless of what is promised now.  

Presumably whatever work the MRC has been conducting under the level 4 licence will continue. If it comes to the new centre work on these toxins would be covered:

Biohazard Level 4: Viruses and bacteria that cause severe to fatal disease in humans, and for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, H5N1(bird flu), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, hantaviruses, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and other hemorrhagic diseases. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a Hazmat suit and a self-contained oxygen supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a Level Four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, autonomous detection system, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a Biosafety Level 4 (P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.

If the level 4 work is not to come to the proposed research centre the consortium’s claim that their work has to be done at the Brill Place site is discredited. If it does come to the site then risk is raised considerably. As to whether it  will come to the site, answers given by John Davidson at a meeting held 11 10 2010 in the Ossulton TRA Hall  provide a strong pointer. Questioned by myself, he stated that the Mill Hill facility would definitely be closed if and when the centre was built and he could not rule out all the Mill Hill work being moved to the Brill Place site including the level 4 risk work.

The DCMS were certainly led to believe that the centre would deal with viruses other than influenza, viz.:

“4. MRC anticipates that some £205 m of additional investment will be secured from consortium partners for the development of the UK Centre

for Medical Research and Innovation. This is investment which would otherwise be Lost to the public purse. This additional investment in the work of the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) will support the delivery of high quality research on:

“ The origins of the AIDS epidemic, detecting tuberculosis (TB) infection, variations in the structure of the bird flu virus H5N1 all of which could Lead to more effective breakthroughs in drug development. Scientists at NIMR have also:- (With the University of Hong Kong) isolated the gene responsible for sensory development in the inner ear, which may lead to significant advances in the development of treatments for the deaf and those with severely impaired hearing; and determined the structure of the enzyme that regulates cellular energy levels which could lead to new drugs for type II diabetes, an illness that affects more than two million people in the UK. Taken together, these important results emerging from the UKCMRI could substantially improve the quality of life and allow those who benefit from the findings to continue to make their important contribution to the economy.”

It would appear that there is a very real possibility of level 4 viruses being researched at the new site. Yet both the Camden officer’s submission and verbal replies from UKCRMI representatives during the hearing of the application were dogmatic that level 4 was never going to be a possibility. Clearly it is if all the MRC work is transferred to the new  site.  Please write to me and explain why my advice of the true situation has been ignored by Camden officers.

I would appreciate a rapid answer to all my questions as this very obviously is a matter which needs to be cleared up as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson  

————————————————————————————

Relevant extract from my objection to the planning application

Gordon Brown’s interference with the bidding process

Document 25

RESTRICTED – POLICY & COMMERCIAL

To James Purnell Margaret Hodge, Jonathan Stephens,Ros Brayfield

From Nicholas Holgate

Date 18 September 2007 ____________

SALE OF LAND TO THE NORTH OF THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Issue: mainly for information but also to ask how you would wish to be involved in this transaction.

The Department owns 3.6 acres to the north of the British Library. With the completion of the new train terminal, we are able to sell it and have been conducting a competitive process so that Ministers can choose what represents best value, comprising not just the proceeds from sale but also the use to which the bidder intends to put the land.

2. We are bound to be concerned about proceeds:

a. There is an obvious obligation, on Jonathan as the department’s Accounting Officer, to secure the best return we can for the taxpayer;

b. the Government is close to breaching its fiscal rules and has set itself a demanding target for asset disposals. Your predecessor strongly rebutted the Treasury’s proposal that we should sell assets worth £150m by 2010-11 and it has not formally been debated since your arrival; but we are likely to have to raise some funds from disposals. In any case:

c. proceeds from this sale are earmarked to contribute towards the budget of the Olympic Delivery Authority for 2007-08.

3. Subject to Treasury agreement, we can nevertheless also take public value” into account. We are aware of two such bids one led by the Medical Research Council, with support from the Wellcome Foundation and others for a research facility; and one that wishes to remain confidential but which is essentially related to faith and education.

4. The facts are:

a. We have now received 28 bids in response to a prospectus. Amongst other things, the prospectus drew attention to the local planning policy guidance, which steers bidders towards a scheme that is roughly 50:50 commercial and residential development with 50% affordable housing. It is Camden Borough Council and the Mayor who will have the last word on what is in fact built on the site;

b. Our professional advisers have scored the bids on various criteria and are interviewing the top seven plus two others (the medical research bid is one of the two others) next week;

c. There is a significant financial gap between the top bids and the medical research bid.

5. Jonathan and I are meeting Jeremy Heywood (who is aware of both public value bids), Ian Watmore (Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills) and John Kingman (Treasury) tomorrow. We need to agree an orderly and appropriate process for selling the land, given the public value bidders, other Departments’ interest and the likelihood that the Prime Minister might wish to take an interest too.

6. We will report back to you then. Subject to your views and others’, one potential way forward is a. DIUS economists be invited to assess the public value of the medical research bid. We will need some such calculation if we sell at a discount. DCMS should not do this as we should display some neutrality between bidders . We decide whether we expect the medical research bid to match the best bid, improve their offer but not necessarily to match, or take a lower value on the chin. Given their backers, they can afford to match. But they may refuse to play; and/or we may not wish to be seen to be reducing their funding for good causes just to maximise proceeds;

c. We see whether there is a Government champion for the other bidder;

and

d. We then fairly characterise the two public value bidders and the best commercial bid (or bids, if they differ significantly in what they propose) to Ministers and No 10 for a decision.

Nicholas Holgate

Chief Operating Officer

————————————————————————-

Document 26

Sent: 27 November 2007 13:09

To: HOLGATE NICHOLAS

Cc: _[40]_____________

Subject: RESTRICTED – Land to the North

Hi Nicholas,

Jonathan spoke to Jeremy Heywood this morning. Jeremy said he needed the bid to be agreed by next Wednesday – 5 Dec (or Thursday latest) as PM wanted to get MRC in then (or possible public announcement.

Jonathan explained that there are two issues from our point of view: .No revised formal offer has been received by DCMS. HMT are not being helpful of recycling returns – without an improved offer from HMT JS said it would he v hard to justify.

JR said he thought the offer was sent to us yesterday – have checked but nothing in JSs post or email – JH will chase. JH also said he would go back to HMT to see what more they can do, but that ultimately PM may have to arbitrate.

Cheers

Private Secretary  to Jonathan Stephens

Department for (Culture, Media and Sport 2-4 Cockpur Street, London

SWlY 5Dl1 email: [40]@culture.gsi.gov.uk tel: 0207211 fax: 020 72116259

————————————————————————-

Document 27

From: [40]

Sent: 29 November 2007 11:49

To: HOLGATE NICHOLAS

Cc: STEPHENS JONATHAN: FERRERO MARK;[40] MARTIN

LINDA

Subject: RE: British Library land

Nicholas

Thanks for this. The SoS has seen your note and is content. Grateful if you could keep us updated on whether the PM will be announcing this next week as part of his science speech.

Many thanks,

R

Private Secretary to the Rt Hon James Purnell MP

Department of Culture, Media and Sport

2-4Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5DH

Tel@ 0207 7211 [40]

———————————————————————-

Document 28

Treasury document

From – name censored

Sent: 04 December 2007 19:49

To: name(s) censored.

CC: name(s) censored)

Thanks for everyone’s help and support in making the announcement tomorrow happen. The PM is truly delighted that departments have been able to work together to secure this huge opportunity for Britain

RESTRICTED – COMMERCIAL

———————————————————————

Document 29

To James Purnell

From Nicholas Holgate

Date

4 December 2007

cc Margaret Hodge

Gerry Sutcliffe

Jonathan Stephens

Mark Ferrero

[40]

BRITISH LIBRARY LAND

Issues: the sale of this 3.6 acre site; and the recycling of the proceeds to benefit DCMS causes.

Timing: urgent, albeit for information.

As you know, we have been marketing this site. The highest commercial bid was £105 mn. But a consortium of the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London have also entered a bid to re-site the Mill Hill research laboratory on this land and thus establish a world class interdisciplinary facility in central London.

2. Their final offer was £85 m. We have accepted the assessment of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills that the public value’ in addition to the sum offered, in terms of increasing the pace of medical research and its practical application, is well worth a discount on a fully commercial sale price of £20 m.

3. The Prime Minister has taken an interest in this proposal; and is expected to announce the deal tomorrow at a breakfast seminar (8-8.45 am).

4. I attach the final press release and some questions and answers.

5. We will be able to re-cycle some of the proceeds: notably, we can meet the tax bill for the proposed acquisition of a major collection; and he deemed to have met almost all of our disposals target for the next three financial years, thus underpinning your proposed capital allocations to the NDPBs.

Nicholas Holgate

Chief Operating Officer

—————————————

Document 30

BRIEFING NOTE FROM POLICY ADVISERS DATED 12 NOVEMBER 2007 TO THE PRIME MINISTER COPIED TO No 10 OFFICIALS.

THE NOTE WAS ENTITLED: PROJECT BLISS – CREATING A WORLD-LEADING MEDICAL RESEARCH FACILITY IN LONDON

Disclosable extracts:

We are close to being ready to announce Government support for the creation of a world-leading medical research facility in London.

The key component being finalised is the sale of land, which will allow the BLISS partner organisations (the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London) to develop their detailed proposals for the creation of the centre.

We anticipate that the deal will be finalised over the next few days and we should be able to announce the outcome of the process In the next few weeks. On current plans, we would expect the sale to complete during December and preparations for development to begin straight away. The expectation is that the Institute would be up and running by 2012.

This is an important opportunity to demonstrate what the UK’s commitment to medical research really means in practice. And it fits very well with the focus of your intended health speech.

What would you be announcing?

• We would be committing Government support to the creation of a new centre for UK biomedical research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best institutions in the world.

• The BLISS consortium brings together four of the leading medical research institutions in the UK – the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.

 • The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit. The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed.

 • These four key partners, together with the expectation that other organisations would come forward to invest In the centre or to lease research space, bring a powerful combination of skills and capabilities — basic research, applied research, the capabilities to convert research and innovation for public and commercial use, and the skills and opportunities presented by access to a leading university and teaching hospital. The potential, In terms of understanding disease, and developing new drugs, treatments and cures, is huge.

How to announce?

The suggestion is that you announce this a few days before your health speech, planned for 6th December. We would suggest a visit to a high-tech medical site in the morning to get pictures, followed by a meeting at No lO with all relevant stakeholders (primarily the four partner organisations) at which you make the formal announcement and ‘launch’ the project. Let us know your thoughts on whether this is the right way to proceed with the BLISS announcement?

Background

The vision for the BLISS Centre has six themes:

Research innovation and excellence • Bring together outstanding scientists from two world-class research institutes (MRC NIMR and the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute), collaborating with UCL, to address fundamental questions of human health and disease. • Through Wellcome Trust funding, development of tools for integrative biology, with an emphasis on the development of advanced microscopy imaging and on the mathematicaland computational needs in this field.

• Increase scientific innovation through new links with the physical sciences, life sciences, mathematics, engineering and the social Sciences at UCLI

 • Develop close links between the Centre and the outstanding hospitals nearby (Including the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases at Queens Square, Great Ormond Street, Moorfields and University College Hospital) and other major hospitals in London (including Hammersmith Hospital and the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Hammersmith, and the Maudsley Hospital and the Institute of Psychiatry)1 State-of-the-art research facilities

 • Develop a multidisciplinary research complex operating in state-of-the-art facilities, with the size and diversity to be internationally competitive with the world’s top research institutes.

 • Establish a new centre for development of advanced imaging technologies and analysis. A national focus for biomedical science

 • Interact with other local centres of excellence to foster and facilitate collaboration between basic, translational and Clinical scientists1  Host national and international research meetings and conferences, facilitated by its proximity to national and International transport links and the conference facilities of the British Library. An effective interface with technology transfer and development

• Facilitate the effective development of therapeutic and diagnostic devices and drugs, by allowing the technology transfer arms of MRC and Cancer Research UK to work closely together.

• Drive innovation in developing tests and technologies through interaction between researchers and development laboratories.

Finding and developing the scientists of the future • Provide an attractive environment to secure and retain world-class scientists by providing an outstanding setting for research and collaboration. • Boost the recruitment and training of scientists and doctors of the future by providing an excellent environment for postgraduate and postdoctoral training, and for training outstanding clinical scientists committed to medical research.

Engaging with the public

• Educate the public on important issues in health and disease.

• Bring together and enhance partners’ public information and education programmes, with a particular focus on engaging younger people.

————————————————————————-

Document 31

BRIEFING NOTE FROM NO 10 POLICY ADVISER TO THE PRIME MINISTER DATED 27 NOVEMBER 2007

COPIED TO NO 10 OFFICIALS

ENTITLED “MEETING WITH PAUL NURSE ON BLISS PROJECT”

You are meeting Paul Nurse who is likely to lead the BLISS institute, along, with Mark Walport, Director of The Wellcome Trust, and Harpal Kumar, Head of Cancer Research, two partners in BLISS

We are close to being ready to announce Government support for plans to create a world-leading medical research facility in London, led by the BLISS consortium made up of the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.

We have now effectively finalised negotiations on the sale of the 35 acre site, adjacent to the British Library: a price has been agreed with DCMS, and the deal is complete subject to agreement on how much of the proceeds DCMS will retain. We are therefore ready for an announcement next week on the sale of the land – but will not be announcing full details of the project overall, as there remain various Issues to resolve, including reaching agreement on business plans and gaining planning permission. We would therefore announce the Government’s support for the vision of the new centre – rather than definitive support for the centre itself. The Project BLISS consortium brings together four leading medical research institutions in the UK and will create a new centre for UK biomedical  research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best Institutions in the world.

The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit.

The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed. The Centre will create a place for:

• collaboration, between leading scientists and clinicians, working on some of the most pressing medical problems of our time;

 • excellence, maintaining the quality of the UK’s life sciences research base;

• application, making links between research, medical practice and the pharmaceutical industry;

• innovation, translating research innovation into new treatments;

 • learning, bringing forward a new generation of scientific leaders; 

  •discovery, showcasing the challenges and potential of life sciences to a new audience.

• Using the close proximity to the British Library, the Centre will develop a public engagement and education programme.

Sir Paul Nurse

Sir Paul Nurse is President of Rockerfeller University, formerly Joint Director General of Cancer Research UK and winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Medicine. His appointment has not yet been publicly announced,but he is set to lead the project as chair the Scientific Planning Committee.

Briefing note from Bliss


Boris Johnson gives the go-ahead to UKCMRI laboratory

January 14, 2011
1 Comment

The heading from the mayoral website – “World class medical research centre given go-ahead in London ” – says it all, namely, Johnson was behind the project from the word go. In fact, we know this from earlier reports such as this:

“London must lead the way in  research and development to advance medical science, and it is fantastic news that the capital will now be the home of the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI),” says Johnson. “It’s quite clear that linking research to delivery in the NHS will significantly advance our fight against major diseases and improve health care.”  April 18, 2008 http://blogs.nature.com/london/2008/04/18/city-hall-and-science-boris-johnson

The planning application was referred to him because although Camden Council had granted permission, the building is of a height  which requires the mayor to also give his approval. I would be most interested to know  how Johnson could make an impartial decision on the particular application . Robert Henderson

Extract from press release on the mayoral website

World class medical research centre given go-ahead in London

14 JANUARY 2011

Plans to build Europe’s largest biomedical research centre in Camden have today been approved by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

The pioneering laboratory and research institution, located in Brill Place, will become a world class facility for cancer research, securing 1,500 jobs, strengthening the capital’s reputation as centre for excellence for medical science and helping maintain its competitiveness in health education.

Plans for the 90,000 square foot environmentally sustainable centre were submitted by the UKCMRI Consortium, consisting of Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council (MRC) and University College London (UCL). Once completed, its staff will develop life-changing new treatments for illnesses including cancers, heart disease, strokes and flu.

Read more at:

 http://www.london.gov.uk/media/press_releases_mayoral/world-class-medical-research-centre-given-go-ahead-london


My submission to the Science and Technology Committee has been accepted

January 14, 2011
Leave a Comment

The Science and Technology Committee have at last accepted my submission which I sent first on 13 October last year.

 My submission concentrates solely on the security aspects, by terrorist and biohazard, because  that is the only part of my objection to the planning application which falls within the committee’s remit. Robert Henderson

 ———————————————————————

— On Thu, 13/1/11, BOYD, Andrew wrote:

From: BOYD, Andrew

Subject: Science & Technology Committee – Acknowledgement of written evidence

To: “Science & Technology Committee” <scitechcom@parliament.uk>

Date: Thursday, 13 January, 2011, 15:01

Dear submitter of written evidence,

Thank you for sending your submission to the Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation. The submission has been made available to members of the Committee.

The Committee may make use of your evidence for the purpose of carrying out its inquiry, including-if it wishes-printing and publishing your evidence, or making it available for public inspection in the Parliamentary Archives. The Committee will not publish or otherwise disclose personal postal or e-mail addresses or telephone numbers. Once submitted, no public use should be made of your submission unless you have first obtained permission from the Clerk of the Committee.

If, on further consideration, there is information in your submission which you believe to be sensitive, you should contact the Clerk to explain what harm you believe would result from its disclosure. The Committee will take this into account when deciding whether to publish the evidence.

Details of the programme for the inquiry will appear in press notices and will be published on the Science and Technology Committee website at

http://www.parliament.uk/science/<BLOCKED::http://www.parliament.uk/science/&gt;

Regards,

Andy Boyd,

They forbid public  use of the submission once it has been received by them , unless permission can be obtained from the Committee Clerk. This strikes me as a blatant attempt to gag campaigners,  and it is certainly a breach o copyright if it applies to any publication, but until I get a reply to my enquiry about what constitutes public use I have taken the submission down from the ULCMRI blog.  However, I leave up my covering letter sent with  the submission, viz:

 11  January 2011

 To:

Science and Technology Committee

House of Commons

Dear Sirs,

 I enclose a submission relating to the security dangers, both from terrorists and biohazards, which will arise if the UKCRMI laboratory is built on the Brill Place site .This comes within the scope of the committee’s remit, viz:

 “1. What are the risk assessment arrangements to ensure the safety of the site? ”

 I am willing to give evidence to the committee in person.

 If the committee want to get a proper idea of how astonishingly close the site is to residential property, the Eurostar terminal and the British Library,  they need to visit the site. I live in the street which runs down one side of the site which begins approximately 60 feet from my front window.

 If the committee want a  guide around the site, I should be happy to perform  the role.

 Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

—————————————

email; sent 14 January 2011

Dear Mr Boyd,

I note that no public use of the submission should be made without the Committee Clerk’s permission. I have the following questions:

1. How long does this general  veto on public use last?

2. What constitutes public use?  Blogs, websites, the press, broadcasters? Many groups are involved in the campaign against this laboratory. In the nature of things, this means they need to let people know what they are doing.  

3. What are the criteria you use to decided whether to lift the veto?

 Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson


Posted in Parliament
Tags:

Camden’s response to my notification of planning permission irregularities

January 7, 2011
3 Comments
 on   Friday, 7 January, 2011, 14:29 (Councillor) <Nasim.Ali@camden.gov.uk> wrote 
 
Dear Mr. Henderson
Thank you for your emails dated the 17th and 19th December regarding your concerns with the procedures surrounding the UKCMRI planning application which was heard at the Development Control Committee on 16th December 2010. I have looked into this matter and now am in a position to respond to the issues you raise.

Inclusion of Objections in the Committee Report

The committee report summarises all the issues raised by yourself and 36 other neighbouring occupiers at the site at paragraph 4.41, you can access the report at: http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=1282 .

You should find that all your comments are covered by the points listed albeit condensed into bullet form and generically with other peoples’ comments. The individual identity of those objecting or supporting the application was not given in the report; only groups and organisations were named.

Recording of individual votes of Councillors

It is not a requirement at committee meetings to record the individual votes of Councillors unless immediately after the vote is taken,  any two voting members request the vote to be officially recorded in the committee minutes. I can confirm that a recorded vote was not requested at the meeting of the Development Control Committee on 16th December and therefore information on who voted for, against or abstained was not officially noted in the Committee minutes. The relevant extract of the Council’s Constitution relating to this can be found in Part 4, section D.15 (page of 161) and I have attached a copy for your reference.

I understand that you have also written to the members of the planning committee asking them to confirm how they voted. As set out above they are not compelled to reveal how they voted although I believe some have responded. 

Challenging the Planning Decision

If you wish to challenge any planning decision on the grounds of Irregularity, you should follow the correct Judicial Review procedure. For this, a claim form must be filed promptly with the courts and in any event not later than 3 months after the grounds to make the claim first arose. This 3 month time limit for lodging a judicial review application will therefore run from the date of the grant of planning permission. This does not rule out the bringing of a challenge at an earlier stage if the court in its discretion considers that a useful purpose would be served by such a challenge. As the application has been referred to the Mayor of London for a final decision the 3 month time limit will run from the Mayor’s decision and not the committee resolution. However, as stated above, this may not preclude you from filing an application at an earlier stage as the court may still entertain it.

If you would like further advice on these legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact Camden ’s Principal Planning Lawyer, Aidan Brookes, by post at:

Legal Services

Camden Town Hall

Judd Street

London

WC1H 9JE

Thank you again for raising your concerns and hopefully I have provided further clarification to you on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Nasim Ali OBE

Leader of Camden Council

  Cc: to all Camden Councillors

 ——————————————-

 Cllr Nasim Ali OBE

Leader of Camden Council

CC To all Camden Councillors

7 January 2011

Dear Mr Ali,

Challenge to the UKCMRI planning permission

Thank for your email which I received today. I have looked at the report at http://democracy.camden.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=1282 . It contains  the same information as given in the Public Document Pack for the Development Control  Committee Meeting of 16 December – this  was the document upon which  I based my challenge to the planning permission..  

As I told you in my previous emails, there is NO  mention at all in the  report of  my complaint that Gordon Brown  illicitly interfered with the bidding process for the site  or of the facts that (1)  the MRC have a level 4 licence for their Mill Hill site; (2) that  the Mill Hill site will be sold  when the Bill Place laboratory is built and (3) UKCMRI have confirmed that the Mill Hill work will be transferred to the Brill Place Laboratory. If you read paras   4.1 to 4.49 of the report you referred me to  you will find that this is the case.  Nor was any mention made orally to the two issues  during the Development Control Committee meeting.

I can only presume that neither you nor your staff has  bothered to  read either the relevant parts of my objection to the planning application or Camden’s own information.  You rather give the game away when you  write “You should find that all your comments are covered by the points listed albeit condensed into bullet form and generically with other peoples’ comments.”  You do not write “should” when you know something can be found for certain.

If you still want to maintain that my complaints about Gordon Brown and biohazard levels are covered by the report, send me the paragraph references in the report which you say mention those complaints.  If you are unable to do this,  please write to me and (1)  admit that the information was withheld from the Development Control Committee; (2) explain why it was withheld and  (3)  explain  what action you have taken or will take against those who  censored the information.  

If you cannot demonstrate that the information is in the report, the granting of  the planning permission is clearly irregular.  It is even conceivable that a criminal offence has been committed by excluding objections  which would be very  politically embarrassing. There would be  a crying  need for the planning application to be heard again. To suggest that a judicial review is the way forward is disingenuous,  because  you must be aware that a council tenant is not going to have the funds to mount such an action which could easily swallow up £40,000 per day in court in costs to both sides. What is required is action at the council level to re-hear the planning application.

I find the failure to routinely record individual councillors votes profoundly anti-democratic. Please explain to me how electors can hold councillors to account if such votes are not recorded,.

Yours sincerely,

 

 

Robert Henderson 

  

From: McGuinness, Andy
Subject: RE: UKCMRI – challenge to the granting of planning permission continued
To: anywhere156@yahoo.co.uk
Date: Monday, 10 January, 2011, 17:19

Dear Mr Henderson,

 
Cllr Ali has asked me to thank you again for your email to him and to say that he will be responding to the three points that you raise in your email in due course.
 
Kind regards
 
 
Andy McGuinness
PA to Leader & Deputy Leader of the Council

Telephone: 020 7974 5707

 ——————————————-

11.January 2011  

Andy McGuinness
PA to Leader & Deputy Leader of the Council

Telephone: 020 7974 5707

  
CC all Camden councillors
 
Dear Mr McGuinness,
  
Thank you for your email. Please ensure that I do not get another nonsense reply. 
  
The question of whether the issues of Gordon Brown’s illicit interference in the bidding process and the information relating to the biohazard levels contained in my objection to the planning application are or are not in the report prepared for the Development Control Committee is not a matter of opinion but a matter of fact.  Neither is in the report.   All you need to confirm this is read paras 4.1-4.49.  I suggest you do this and then report their absence to Cllr Ali.
  
Cllr Ali should be able to send a reply very rapidly because little  effort is required to discover the truth. It is shameful that my previous  emails did not cause anyone within the Council to actually read the report to see that what I was saying was the simple truth.
  
Yours sincerely.
  
  
Robert Henderson
  
 ——————————————-

  

Dear Mr Henderson,

Thank you for your email of the 7th January which was in response to my emailed reply to your earlier enquiries (17th and 19th December) regarding your concerns about the Council’s consideration of the UKCMRI planning application.

As I understand it the points that you raise fall into 2 principle parts and that you are concerned that there was no mention in the committee report or at the Development Control Committee meeting of these which are as follows:

1)       that Gordon Brown had illicitly interfered in the government’s bidding process for the Brill Place site to the UKCMRI’s advantage

2)       that the MRC will carry on their current level 4 licensed activities at Brill Place once they have sold their site and the UKCMRI laboratory is built.

In my previous email response to you, I had explained that your comments had been summarised generically in the planning report with the comments received from other objectors being condensed into bullet form. On enquiring with the planning case officer for the application, I understand that you had gone to the trouble of setting your comments out at some length and he assures me that your comments were indeed fully read. However, I am assured that the points you made were still substantially the same as those made by several others who had written in and could thus be satisfactorily summarised in a generic fashion. Indeed to have given special attention to your comments in the manner of the named groups and organisations listed in the report, would have been unfair to the 140 or so other individual objectors like yourself.

Accordingly your points have been covered under paragraph 4.41 of the report. Your concerns under part (1) above would fall under the subheading ‘use of public funds’ namely –“unfair bidding procedure/sale of site –giving preference to the UKCMRI”; and your concerns under part (2) under the ‘use related’ subheading being to do with the risk of outbreaks/leakage of viruses or other pathogens to the area that might arise from the types of research being carried out. These are clearly stated under paragraph 4.41.

 Whilst the summary of the objections does not expressly include your point about the existing level 4 license at the MRC’s Mill Hill site, paragraph 4.46 of the report responds in detail to concerns from objectors generally about biohazard containment issues. This conveys the applicant’s stated intention that the work to be dealt with at the Brill Place site would be categorised within Groups 1-3 out of the 4 standard biological hazard levels. There is no suggestion in the application that all the work currently undertaken at Mill Hill will go on to be undertaken by the UKCMRI and in any case as explained under paragraph 4.46 the containment categories are strictly controlled by the Government which would never be likely to allow any higher (level 4) category research at Brill Place.

With regard to the bidding process for the site and any involvement by Gordon Brown personally, there is no further mention in the report as this is in no way relevant to the planning issues to be considered by the Development Control Committee. However the mention in para 4.41 makes the Committee sufficiently aware of the concerns aired in this respect so that it could have enquired further about these if they wished.

Finally, I note your dissatisfaction with the absence of a recorded vote in this matter, however as already explained in my previous email to you the procedure taken at the Committee was fully in accordance with the Council’s Constitution. This is the document which sets out in full how the Council and its constituent Members are accountable to its electorate.

 I trust that the above now provides sufficient clarity as to how the consideration of the application has taken account of your concerns. I thank you again for raising these issues with me.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Nasim Ali OBE

Leader of Camden Council

 ——————————————-

24 1 2011

Cllr Nasim Ali OBE

Leader of Camden Council

Cc All Camden Councillors

Dear Mr Ali,

I note that unlike your previous email to me you have not copied it to councillors. That suggests to me you are somewhat embarrassed  by your response this time around. 

Do you honestly wish to claim that  a meaningful judgement on the fairness or otherwise of the bidding process could be made by the Development Control Committee  on the basis of this: “ Unfair bidding procedure/sale of site –giving preference to UKCMRI”?   The only way that councillors could make a meaningful judgement is to have the facts of Brown’s involvement put before them.

As for your claim that Gordon Brown’s involvement  was not a concern of the committee,  this is contradicted by the inclusion of “Unfair bidding procedure/sale of site –giving preference to UKCMRI” in the report. .  If it was not relevant why did was the objection included in the list of objections?  If it is relevant then how can Gordon Brown’s prejudicial involvement not be relevant?  If you wish to maintain his involvement was not prejudicial please explain to me how it could not be.  

If there is a question mark over the legality of the sale,  and there is prima facie evidence there is because of Brown’s involvement,  ownership of the site is not decided and consequently planning permission cannot not be legally granted because no valid planning application has been submitted for consideration.  If building was to go ahead and a challenge to the legality of the sale was successfully made, Camden could find itself being sued for very substantial damages for granting planning permission for which there is no legal basis.

You claim that all the objections  I made were submitted by others. I would doubt this very much,  because I am the person who obtained the FOIA material on Gordon Brown’s involvement  and it is improbable that  anyone else has obtained this material. I also doubt whether anyone has attacked the security matter to  the depth  I attacked it, including extracting a string of embarrassingly evasive replies from UKCMRI (these were in the appendix to my objection).  I want you to prove that my complaints against Brown  and security were made by other people.

As for the specific question of level 4 viruses, you admit this was not dealt with. Para 4.46  deals with something described as  “containment level 3+”.  I have been unable to track down any official reference to this term.  The suspicion must be that this is Level 4 material in disguise. Moreover, as the MRC site at Mill Hill has a level 4 licence and all their work is to be transferred to Brill Place if the centre is built,  it is a stretch too far to assume they will not transfer level 4 work there unless there is a legal bar to them doing so. There is no  such bar.

It is clear you have not read my objection yourself. I suggest you do so. That will show you how much has been missed.  

I await your reply with interest.

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson


A list of the bidders for the Brill Place site

January 6, 2011
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The information below was extracted from data released under the FOIA by the DCMS. Unfortunately, they provided this on sheets of A3 with the data spread across the longer side of the paper. Hence, it was impossible to scan it into a computer document in any useful form. Consequently, I have copy-typed the details of the names of the bidders, their compliance with the Camden  planning brief and the type of development proposed. I have left the DCMS wording intact. Please note that the documents the DCMS supplied are a shoddy piece of work with  gaps in the information provided, an inconsistency of  treatment and some unexplained abbreviations. In addition, the words “No details beyond the area of the plan” are my addition to clarify the position.

The list is of all the bidders who expressed an initial interest.  This  was whittled down to a short list of 9 from which UKMRI were selected. The DCMS has refused to release the names of those on the short list.

There were 27 bidders. With regard to the planning brief the breakdown was:

12 comply with the Camden planning brief 

1 appears to comply with planning brief

7  do not comply with planning brief

4 failed to provide enough information to make a judgement

2  resulted in no opinion stated

1 indeterminate comment (Thornsett Group)

Those meeting the planning brief  included obvious serious players such as Redrow, Barratt Homes and  Wimpey.  Therefore, the DCMS cannot claim that there was no realistic chance of selling to a bidder who met the planning brief.

The bidders, their proposed developments  and whether these met the planning brief

Securities Plc  and Granger Plc (JV)

No details beyond the area of plan  – 713,374 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? No

2. Oracle Group                       

No details beyond the area of the plan 450,000 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

3.Minerva                             

No details beyond the area of the plan – 750,000 gross

Complied with planning guidance? No

4 .Tudorvale properties               

Not stated (scheme does assume development of  720 flats and 650 studios for students)

Complied with planning guidance? Not stated

5. City Lofts Group                    

No details beyond the area of the plan – 434,466 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

6. Thornsett Group plc/CIT Group plc

                                          2 Schemes

                                        Bridge Scheme

                                        Residential – 206k sq ft

                                        Office/Hotel – 190k sq ft

                                        Retail – 57 k sq ft

                                        Community – 15k sq ft

                                        Tower Scheme

                                        Residential – 320k sq ft

                                        Office/Hotel – 204k  sq ft

                                        Retail – 55k sq ft

                                        Office/Leisure – 51k sq ft

                                        Community – 29k sq ft

                                        Total 667k sq ft

                                        ‘Outreach facility ‘ for the British Library

Complied with planning guidance? Not stated

7. Terrace Hill Group plc            

Office – 286k sq ft            

Student – 108k sq ft

Residential (social) – 83k sq ft

Residential (private) – 77k sq ft

                                Total –  536k sq ft

Larger 677,000 sq ft potential scheme illustrated

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

8. The Partnership/ Cancer Research UK/Medical Research Council/The Wellcome Trust

No details beyond area of  plan –720,761 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? No

9. Henderson Global Investors  (With First Base/ Notting Hill Housing Association).

No details beyond area of  plan –720,761 sq ft

Complied with planning guidiance? No

10. First Regeneration Homes/ Princeton Investments Ltd/ Tiger Developments Ltd

No details beyond area of  plan –972,946 sq ft (gross external)

Complied with planning guidance? No

11. Splendid Hotel Group               

837, 014 sq ft

50% Hotel/Offices

25% private housing

25% social housing

Complied with planning guidance? Not stated

12. Pantherlee Ltd                            

No details beyond area of  plan – 650,000 sq ft gross

Complied with planning guidance? No

13. Barratt Homes                            

No details beyond area of  plan –352,903  sq ft (NIA)

Complied with planning guidiance? Yes

14. The Merchant Property Group/Capital and Counties    

Not stated

Complied with planning guidance? Cannot tell from info provided

15. Redrow Regeneration    Commercial partner –  Commercial Estates Group

452,438 sq ft   50% residential, 46% offices ,4% mixed use

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

16. Bee Bee Developments Ltd         

No details beyond area of  plan – 330,00 net sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

17. Leander                                             

Commercial – 180k sq ft

Residential  –   180 sq ft (50:50 private/affordable)

Total 360k sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

18. City  & Docklands/Scarborough Development Group (JV)

Scheme not stated

Complied with planning guidance? Cannot confirm from info provided

19. Taylor Wimpey Development    London Region. Partnered by  Bride Hall Developments           

Residential (affordable) – 83k sq ft

Residential (private) – 97k sq ft

Student – 21k sq ft

Retail 41k sq ft

Office – 50k sq ft

Hotel – 55k sq ft

 Total 347k sq ft

 Enhanced scheme 415,000 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

20. Criterion Capital Ltd              

3 x hotel towers  (21 storeys  ) 676 rooms                                                             

2 x residential blocks – 592k sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? No

21. Places for People (RSL)         

Up to 40 storeys

550 dwellings (350-400 per hectare)

50% affordable homes,

70% of which would be “affordable rent”   (should  be social rent)

 160,000 sq ft of commercial space

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

22. Landmark Developers with  Ability Group  `    

628,180 (GIA) sq ft

10 storeys

50%  Residential

50% retail/office/hotel

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

23. Marcol Group/Nicholas James Group Ltd            

No details beyond area of  plan – 486,800 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? appears to

24. Community Housing   Association

Scheme unknown

Complied with planning guidance? Cannot tell from info provided

25. Coexist Foundation                 

No details beyond area of  plan – 440,893 (GEA) sq ft

Intending to create a world class centre for Judaism  Christianity and Islam

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

26. St James Group (Berkley Group)                                                                  

Area of plan 508,351 sq ft

54% Residential/46% Commercial (hotels/offices)

Gymnasium/swimming pool/public open spaces

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

 27. London and Regional  Holdings Ltd

No details beyond area of  plan – 568,200 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Cannot tell from info provided


Letter submitted to the Camden New Journal 2 January 2011

January 2, 2011
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Update: The CNJ failed to publish the letter in whole or part in their 6 January issue. RH

Note to CNJ editor –  I enclose below the letter several of the civil service documents which clearly demonstrate Gordon Brown’s interference in the bidding process for the land. There is consequently no risk of you being sued. Robert  Henderson

 Letter for publication

2 January  2011

 Sir,

Councillor Peter Brayshaw (letters CNJ 30 December) claims that there is little opposition to the proposed UKCMRI laboratory directly behind the British Library . He bases this claim on the fact that only 33 formal objections were made by local residents despite 700 odd notifications of the application being sent to local residents.  

Such a response is far from being negligible. Many  people do not have the confidence to make such written objections. It is also likely that many of the 700 (and many more of those not so immediately affected) do not speak English at all or have it  as a first language.  Some of these  people will have been excluded because the council did not provide information in their language.  It is also true that many Camden residents come from countries where the state is feared, a fear which they carry with them to Britain.

To these considerations can be added the fact that it was difficult going on impossible view all material put out by Camden and UKCMRI without going on the Internet, something many Camden residents will have not been able to do through lack of familiarity with computers.

As for the objections which were sent in by Camden residents, I can say  from my own experience that the Camden Officers’ report  to the Development Control Committee excluded certain important matters.  I submitted a most detailed objection,  which included incontrovertible evidence in the form of civil service documents obtained using the Freedom of Information Act that Gordon Brown when Prime Minister had illegitimately interfered with the bidding process to ensure that UKCMRI  were sold the land.  This meant that the sale was  illicit because the other bidders were in effect bidding when unbeknown to them  the decision had already (illegitimately)  been made.  My objection appeared nowhere in the Camden Officers’ report.

The second major failure of the Camden Officers’ report  was the misrepresentation of the biohazard level of the material with which the  laboratory could be working .  One of the consortium members, the Medical Research Council (MRC),  currently has licences for level 3 and level 4 biohazard material  for its Mill Hill site,. UKCMRI have said that this site will be sold and the work transferred to the proposed London laboratory. Yet UKCMRI are claiming that no level 4 material will be used on this site.

 Level 4 is the most dangerous biohazard  level covering such toxins as  the Ebola virus, the Lassa virus, and any agent with unknown risks of pathogenicity and transmission.  UKCMRI’s assurances that only ‘flu viruses and toxins of similar hazard will be worked upon is scarcely reassuring because (1) these assurances have no legal force and (2) it is worth remembering that the worst pandemic of the twentieth century was the influenza strain of 1918/19.  I made all of this clear in my objection yet it was completely absent from the Camden Officers’ report.

What UKCMRI have done is  introduce the concept of Biohazard level 3 plus, a regulatory beast which does not appear to exist outside of their imagination. The suspicion must be that this is level 4 in disguise

The granting of planning applications may be challenged at the level of the Council if it can be shown there has been irregularity in making the decision. That there has been an irregularity here can be clearly seen with the failure to place  the objections outlined above before the Committee. Consequently, I have already lodged a formal objection on those grounds with the Council.

Let me end with what I think most people will consider an extraordinary  thing. The council kept no record of the individual votes cast at the Development Control Committee which heard the planning application. I have been informed by the Council that this is standard practice.  How electors are to hold councillors readily to account for their votes is a mystery. However, with a good deal of diligent research I have managed to identify the way votes were cast. Readers may find it telling that of the eight who voted for,  only one (Andrew Marshall) was willing to identify  himself to me as having voted for.  For the record the vote was:

Those voting  for : Milena Nuti, Labour (Bloomsbury),Sue Vincent, Labour (Holborn and Covent Garden),Sarah Hayward, Labour (King’s Cross),Roger Freeman, Conservative (Swiss Cottage),Heather Johnson, Labour (Regent’s Park),Andrew Marshall, Conservative (Swiss Cottage),Gillian Risso-Gill, Liberal Democrat (West Hampstead),Jenny Headlam-Wells, Labour (Kentish Town).

Those voting against: Claire-Louise Leyland, Conservative (Belsize),Paul Braithwaite, Liberal Democrat (Cantelowes),Sean Birch, Labour (Gospel Oak), Matt Sanders, Liberal Democrat (Haverstock).

Those abstaining: Flick Rea, Liberal Democrat (Fortune Green)

Those present but failing to register any vote (including failing to abstain): Thomas Neuwark,  Labour (Camden Town with Primrose Hill)

Absent: Georgia Gould, Labour (Kentish Town)

Yours sincerely

 

Robert Henderson 

   
Gordon Brown’s interference with the bidding process
Document 25
RESTRICTED – POLICY & COMMERCIAL
To James Purnell Margaret Hodge, Jonathan Stephens,Ros Brayfield
From Nicholas Holgate
Date 18 September 2007 ____________
SALE OF LAND TO THE NORTH OF THE BRITISH LIBRARY
Issue: mainly for information but also to ask how you would wish to be involved in this transaction.
The Department owns 3.6 acres to the north of the British Library. With the completion of the new train terminal, we are able to sell it and have been conducting a competitive process so that Ministers can choose what represents best value, comprising not just the proceeds from sale but also the use to which the bidder intends to put the land.
2. We are bound to be concerned about proceeds:
a. There is an obvious obligation, on Jonathan as the department’s Accounting Officer, to secure the best return we can for the taxpayer;
b. the Government is close to breaching its fiscal rules and has set itself a demanding target for asset disposals. Your predecessor strongly rebutted the Treasury’s proposal that we should sell assets worth £150m by 2010-11 and it has not formally been debated since your arrival; but we are likely to have to raise some funds from disposals. In any case:
c. proceeds from this sale are earmarked to contribute towards the budget of the Olympic Delivery Authority for 2007-08.
3. Subject to Treasury agreement, we can nevertheless also take public value” into account. We are aware of two such bids one led by the Medical Research Council, with support from the Wellcome Foundation and others for a research facility; and one that wishes to remain confidential but which is essentially related to faith and education.
4. The facts are:
a. We have now received 28 bids in response to a prospectus. Amongst other things, the prospectus drew attention to the local planning policy guidance, which steers bidders towards a scheme that is roughly 50:50 commercial and residential development with 50% affordable housing. It is Camden Borough Council and the Mayor who will have the last word on what is in fact built on the site;
b. Our professional advisers have scored the bids on various criteria and are interviewing the top seven plus two others (the medical research bid is one of the two others) next week;
c. There is a significant financial gap between the top bids and the medical research bid.
5. Jonathan and I are meeting Jeremy Heywood (who is aware of both public value bids), Ian Watmore (Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills) and John Kingman (Treasury) tomorrow. We need to agree an orderly and appropriate process for selling the land, given the public value bidders, other Departments’ interest and the likelihood that the Prime Minister might wish to take an interest too.
6. We will report back to you then. Subject to your views and others’, one potential way forward is a. DIUS economists be invited to assess the public value of the medical research bid. We will need some such calculation if we sell at a discount. DCMS should not do this as we should display some neutrality between bidders . We decide whether we expect the medical research bid to match the best bid, improve their offer but not necessarily to match, or take a lower value on the chin. Given their backers, they can afford to match. But they may refuse to play; and/or we may not wish to be seen to be reducing their funding for good causes just to maximise proceeds;
c. We see whether there is a Government champion for the other bidder;
and
d. We then fairly characterise the two public value bidders and the best commercial bid (or bids, if they differ significantly in what they propose) to Ministers and No 10 for a decision.
Nicholas Holgate
Chief Operating Officer
————————————————————————-
Document 26
Sent: 27 November 2007 13:09
To: HOLGATE NICHOLAS
Cc: _[40]_____________
Subject: RESTRICTED – Land to the North
Hi Nicholas,
Jonathan spoke to Jeremy Heywood this morning. Jeremy said he needed the bid to be agreed by next Wednesday – 5 Dec (or Thursday latest) as PM wanted to get MRC in then (or possible public announcement.
Jonathan explained that there are two issues from our point of view: .No revised formal offer has been received by DCMS. HMT are not being helpful of recycling returns – without an improved offer from HMT JS said it would he v hard to justify.
JR said he thought the offer was sent to us yesterday – have checked but nothing in JSs post or email – JH will chase. JH also said he would go back to HMT to see what more they can do, but that ultimately PM may have to arbitrate.
Cheers
Private Secretary  to Jonathan Stephens
Department for (Culture, Media and Sport 2-4 Cockpur Street, London
SWlY 5Dl1 email: [40]@culture.gsi.gov.uk tel: 0207211 fax: 020 72116259
————————————————————————-
Document 27
From: [40]
Sent: 29 November 2007 11:49
To: HOLGATE NICHOLAS
Cc: STEPHENS JONATHAN: FERRERO MARK;[40] MARTIN
LINDA
Subject: RE: British Library land
Nicholas
Thanks for this. The SoS has seen your note and is content. Grateful if you could keep us updated on whether the PM will be announcing this next week as part of his science speech.
Many thanks,
R
Private Secretary to the Rt Hon James Purnell MP
Department of Culture, Media and Sport
2-4Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5DH
Tel@ 0207 7211 [40]
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Document 28
Treasury document
From – name censored
Sent: 04 December 2007 19:49
To: name(s) censored.
CC: name(s) censored)
Thanks for everyone’s help and support in making the announcement tomorrow happen. The PM is truly delighted that departments have been able to work together to secure this huge opportunity for Britain
RESTRICTED – COMMERCIAL
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Document 29
To James Purnell
From Nicholas Holgate
Date
4 December 2007
cc Margaret Hodge
Gerry Sutcliffe
Jonathan Stephens
Mark Ferrero
[40]
BRITISH LIBRARY LAND
Issues: the sale of this 3.6 acre site; and the recycling of the proceeds to benefit DCMS causes.
Timing: urgent, albeit for information.
As you know, we have been marketing this site. The highest commercial bid was £105 mn. But a consortium of the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London have also entered a bid to re-site the Mill Hill research laboratory on this land and thus establish a world class interdisciplinary facility in central London.
2. Their final offer was £85 m. We have accepted the assessment of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills that the public value’ in addition to the sum offered, in terms of increasing the pace of medical research and its practical application, is well worth a discount on a fully commercial sale price of £20 m.
3. The Prime Minister has taken an interest in this proposal; and is expected to announce the deal tomorrow at a breakfast seminar (8-8.45 am).
4. I attach the final press release and some questions and answers.
5. We will be able to re-cycle some of the proceeds: notably, we can meet the tax bill for the proposed acquisition of a major collection; and he deemed to have met almost all of our disposals target for the next three financial years, thus underpinning your proposed capital allocations to the NDPBs.
Nicholas Holgate
Chief Operating Officer
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Document 30
BRIEFING NOTE FROM POLICY ADVISERS DATED 12 NOVEMBER 2007 TO THE PRIME MINISTER COPIED TO No 10 OFFICIALS.
THE NOTE WAS ENTITLED: PROJECT BLISS – CREATING A WORLD-LEADING MEDICAL RESEARCH FACILITY IN LONDON
Disclosable extracts:
We are close to being ready to announce Government support for the creation of a world-leading medical research facility in London.
The key component being finalised is the sale of land, which will allow the BLISS partner organisations (the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London) to develop their detailed proposals for the creation of the centre.
We anticipate that the deal will be finalised over the next few days and we should be able to announce the outcome of the process In the next few weeks. On current plans, we would expect the sale to complete during December and preparations for development to begin straight away. The expectation is that the Institute would be up and running by 2012.
This is an important opportunity to demonstrate what the UK’s commitment to medical research really means in practice. And it fits very well with the focus of your intended health speech.
What would you be announcing?
• We would be committing Government support to the creation of a new centre for UK biomedical research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best institutions in the world.
• The BLISS consortium brings together four of the leading medical research institutions in the UK – the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.
 • The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit. The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed.
 • These four key partners, together with the expectation that other organisations would come forward to invest In the centre or to lease research space, bring a powerful combination of skills and capabilities — basic research, applied research, the capabilities to convert research and innovation for public and commercial use, and the skills and opportunities presented by access to a leading university and teaching hospital. The potential, In terms of understanding disease, and developing new drugs, treatments and cures, is huge.
How to announce?
The suggestion is that you announce this a few days before your health speech, planned for 6th December. We would suggest a visit to a high-tech medical site in the morning to get pictures, followed by a meeting at No lO with all relevant stakeholders (primarily the four partner organisations) at which you make the formal announcement and ‘launch’ the project. Let us know your thoughts on whether this is the right way to proceed with the BLISS announcement?
Background
The vision for the BLISS Centre has six themes:
Research innovation and excellence • Bring together outstanding scientists from two world-class research institutes (MRC NIMR and the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute), collaborating with UCL, to address fundamental questions of human health and disease. • Through Wellcome Trust funding, development of tools for integrative biology, with an emphasis on the development of advanced microscopy imaging and on the mathematicaland computational needs in this field.
• Increase scientific innovation through new links with the physical sciences, life sciences, mathematics, engineering and the social Sciences at UCLI
 • Develop close links between the Centre and the outstanding hospitals nearby (Including the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases at Queens Square, Great Ormond Street, Moorfields and University College Hospital) and other major hospitals in London (including Hammersmith Hospital and the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Hammersmith, and the Maudsley Hospital and the Institute of Psychiatry)1 State-of-the-art research facilities
 • Develop a multidisciplinary research complex operating in state-of-the-art facilities, with the size and diversity to be internationally competitive with the world’s top research institutes.
 • Establish a new centre for development of advanced imaging technologies and analysis. A national focus for biomedical science
 • Interact with other local centres of excellence to foster and facilitate collaboration between basic, translational and Clinical scientists1  Host national and international research meetings and conferences, facilitated by its proximity to national and International transport links and the conference facilities of the British Library. An effective interface with technology transfer and development
• Facilitate the effective development of therapeutic and diagnostic devices and drugs, by allowing the technology transfer arms of MRC and Cancer Research UK to work closely together.
• Drive innovation in developing tests and technologies through interaction between researchers and development laboratories.
Finding and developing the scientists of the future • Provide an attractive environment to secure and retain world-class scientists by providing an outstanding setting for research and collaboration. • Boost the recruitment and training of scientists and doctors of the future by providing an excellent environment for postgraduate and postdoctoral training, and for training outstanding clinical scientists committed to medical research.
Engaging with the public
• Educate the public on important issues in health and disease.
• Bring together and enhance partners’ public information and education programmes, with a particular focus on engaging younger people.
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Document 31
BRIEFING NOTE FROM NO 10 POLICY ADVISER TO THE PRIME MINISTER DATED 27 NOVEMBER 2007
COPIED TO NO 10 OFFICIALS
ENTITLED “MEETING WITH PAUL NURSE ON BLISS PROJECT”
You are meeting Paul Nurse who is likely to lead the BLISS institute, along, with Mark Walport, Director of The Wellcome Trust, and Harpal Kumar, Head of Cancer Research, two partners in BLISS
We are close to being ready to announce Government support for plans to create a world-leading medical research facility in London, led by the BLISS consortium made up of the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.
We have now effectively finalised negotiations on the sale of the 35 acre site, adjacent to the British Library: a price has been agreed with DCMS, and the deal is complete subject to agreement on how much of the proceeds DCMS will retain. We are therefore ready for an announcement next week on the sale of the land – but will not be announcing full details of the project overall, as there remain various Issues to resolve, including reaching agreement on business plans and gaining planning permission. We would therefore announce the Government’s support for the vision of the new centre – rather than definitive support for the centre itself. The Project BLISS consortium brings together four leading medical research institutions in the UK and will create a new centre for UK biomedical  research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best Institutions in the world.
The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit.
The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed. The Centre will create a place for:
• collaboration, between leading scientists and clinicians, working on some of the most pressing medical problems of our time;
 • excellence, maintaining the quality of the UK’s life sciences research base;
• application, making links between research, medical practice and the pharmaceutical industry;
• innovation, translating research innovation into new treatments;
 • learning, bringing forward a new generation of scientific leaders; 
  •discovery, showcasing the challenges and potential of life sciences to a new audience.
• Using the close proximity to the British Library, the Centre will develop a public engagement and education programme.
Sir Paul Nurse
Sir Paul Nurse is President of Rockerfeller University, formerly Joint Director General of Cancer Research UK and winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Medicine. His appointment has not yet been publicly announced,but he is set to lead the project as chair the Scientific Planning Committee.
Briefing note from Bliss


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