UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 63-77)



Q63   Chair: Our second group of witnesses is from the St Pancras and Somers Town Planning Action group. May I, first of all, invite you to introduce yourselves for the record?

Natalie Bennett: My name is Natalie Bennett. I am the chair of SPA.

Rob Inglis: My name is Rob Inglis. I am the press officer of SPA.

Frankie Biney: I am Frankie Biney and a member of SPA.

Q64   Chair: Thank you very much. You heard the earlier evidence that we have taken. No doubt that is going to help inform some of your responses. There is a group of MPs who represent a diverse set of constituencies here, including mine, which, supposedly, has the second biggest hazard site in England. We might be pressing you very hard on some issues but not without some understanding of your concerns.

In your written evidence to the Committee you acknowledge the benefits of creating a medical research centre in the UK. Is that correct?

Natalie Bennett: Very much so. We are not at all opposed to medical research. We very much respect the work that scientists do. There are, as has been referred to earlier, some opponents of the labs who have concerns about that, but that does not represent either our view or the view of the people of St Pancras and Somers Town ward. However, it is interesting that the consortium, when they first started talking to us, said the things that they were going to do were going to be great for the health of the people of St Pancras and Somers Town. Perhaps we will have a chance later to tell you a bit more about St Pancras and Somers Town, but it is a very disadvantaged community, a very low-income community, where people don't often have access to healthy food or the chance to exercise. They live in overcrowded housing. There is a lack of hope and economic opportunity. We don't need research or medical science to give us the answer to those things. In terms of the health of Somers Town, there is not a lot to offer, but we think medical science is a good thing and we are not opposed to it in any way at all.

Q65   Chair: Having a concentration of high-quality jobs on your doorstep is not a disadvantage, is it?

Natalie Bennett: Under the section 106 agreement they have made with the council, they are offering 20 building apprenticeships. Of course, that will only be during the construction period. They are talking about five lab apprenticeships a year. In a community of 13,000 people, many of whom are unemployed, five jobs a year is obviously not to be sneezed at, but we are not talking about a significant impact on the community in that sense.

Q66   Chair: Do you agree with the evidence that you have heard from the four partners that clustering scientists together will be beneficial to medical research in the UK?

Natalie Bennett: It is immediately obvious that we are not medical experts, but because we have been very interested in this project we have had a lot of calls to look into it. I come from a science background. My first degree was science, although I don't call myself a scientist. One of the things that I, personally, have been very interested in is that Sir John Savill said he produced one peer-reviewed paper which indicated that there were benefits from the sort of clustering that he was talking about. That is interesting, because I have been asking for at least the last year—I have been involved with this particularly wearing another hat—for evidence from peer-review journals that showed the evidence for this rather than just an assertion that this was the case. I am pleased that there is one peer-reviewed paper, but one peer-reviewed paper perhaps only goes so far.

  One of the things that did not come up in the discussion earlier is the idea that physical proximity is necessary for clustering in this day and age, given that we all have Skype, video-conferencing and instant messaging. I am sure that most of us in our daily lives use those and are quite close to people we may never even have met but with whom we have regular contact. Why is it the case, in this day and age, that clustering requires a physical proximity? That is a very 20th century idea in the 21st century.

  Clustering is one thing, but packing people in like sardines, which some of your questions have attested to, is another question altogether. If you look at our submission, there is a memorandum from Steven Ley from the NIMR from 2004 that your predecessors heard. He was expressing great concern about the move into central London. The expansive 47 acres at Mill Hill being crammed into 3 acres in central London was something about which he expressed great concern. That was an expression of concern from within the medical research community. There really have to be some questions about cramming people together in this tiny space.

  Finally, there is one more point I would like to make on this. Pharmaceutical companies seem to be moving away from large centralised research facilities, as we have seen recently with Pfizer at Sandwich. Is this actually the way forward or is this a 20th century dinosaur that is being left? Having raised that point, I am going to refer to Rob, who has some more to say on that.

Rob Inglis: I want to put some contrasts in scientific research. Guido Pontecorvo, the geneticist who became the head of Cancer Research UK, had previously pioneered genetics at Glasgow University, where he had made important discoveries in a very modest setting— originally a bombed-out basement, with one 15-year-old apprentice and a wastepaper basket for a filing system.

Let us leap forward to the present, where scientists at Mill Hill on 47 acres have achieved Nobel awards and have developed translational science in collaboration with Cancer Research UK, UCL and hospitals, clinics and universities throughout London, Britain and overseas.

Now we envisage a superlab on 3.6 acres at St Pancras to speed up the time it takes to develop new treatments from bench to bedside because the cathedral for science will be within walking distance of the partners—Wellcome, UCL and Cancer Research. If speed is so important, why within walking distance? Why not sprinting distance? And St Pancras would be convenient for visiting scientists. It would also be a short distance for any infectious escape from the lab, but that was not considered.

Q67   Graham Stringer: This project has funding permission; it is funded. What are your objectives now?

Natalie Bennett: In short, we are relying on you. You are, realistically, our last hope. Perhaps there is a faint hope that there might be a Government reconsideration given the fact that we are talking about £220 million of Government money. I am sure that all of you in your individual constituencies can think of a lot of things that you could do with £220 million. What has happened with this project all along is that it has been rushed along with some very influential people going, "It's great, it's great, it's great." It's a high prestige, high profile project.

We are the people of Somers Town. People have been opposed to this, but for many of the people who have been opposed to this, like Steven Ley, about whom I was speaking earlier, it is very difficult to oppose from within the scientific community. As I am sure you are all aware, the scientific community is quite close-knit. If you are involved in medical research, you know who will be peer reviewing your research papers and who will be considering your application for research funding. It is a very close-knit community. It is very difficult.

For us to directly answer your question, there are two things. We can hope that the Government look at that £220 million and think that there are many other important things they could do with it, or, secondly, having looked at this project critically—and I was very impressed by the questions this morning that you clearly are looking at it critically—you could say, "This is a really bad idea and we are the people who are going to say that this is a bad idea and you should stop." That is what I would very much hope for.

Rob Inglis: Could I add to that that the financial situation in Britain is degenerating rapidly? It is going to take four years, so UKCMRI say, to build this and four years to bring people from one place and all the instruments in. But what if something happens as happened with the construction of the British Library, which was delayed for 15 years because of various things, including flooding and the water table, into which they had to drive piles as deep as the engineer knew anywhere in London. The same sort of things will have to happen with UKCMRI. Who knows what unforeseen delays there may be? How many years will it be before this vast construction is completed and before it begins to deliver science?

We ask that you consider the tremendous cost of the building, the time involved and that during that time money is not being spent directly on scientific research. So far as cancer goes, we heard one of the councillors who was on our side, in the hearing in Camden, saying that she had collected money for cancer charities. She said, "How will cancer charities feel if they think their money is going into this massive building when it ought to be going more directly to help with research?"

Q68   Graham Stringer: Can you tell me what your main safety and security problems are? You have heard the evidence of previous witnesses.

Rob Inglis: Yes.

Q69   Graham Stringer: There is nothing unusual about having this level of hazard within urban areas. The people involved have very good safety records. Why don't you believe them? What are your concerns?

Rob Inglis: First of all, Mill Hill has a level 4 allowance. Why spend all this amount of money shifting to 3.6 acres at St Pancras if you are going to have a lower level? Level 3 was quoted a lot today. Level 3+ has been quoted via Camden Council and at a public meeting with John Cooper, a representative of UKCMRI on 4 October, he said, in response to a question, "Well, the levels may change over time." That is one thing.

  The next thing is, though there may well be places in London that could be considered a biohazard in case of an escape, is there anything so dense in such a sensitive place as what is being mooted here? I accept that British scientists have an exemplary safety record. This is what I have been told by UKCMRI, but they do not have a perfect safety record. We published a long list of fines issued against British labs for spillages over recent years. It is a big list, and I am sure your Committee could get a much vaster one than we were able to get. These spillages could occur so near to St Pancras station and the Northern Line. In the basement of the British Library I am told they can hear the Northern Line going through, and it is very near to the water table. It is a big consideration if there is any spillage in a densely domestically populated area. To me, it is terribly important if there is any spillage that seeps through in innumerable ways into St Pancras station. What are the repercussions and who is responsible for that?

We felt so strongly about this that we have sent letters to senior Cabinet Ministers and to the Prime Minister asking them whether they acknowledge a duty of care. Nobody has replied in regard to the safety of Londoners and visitors to London via St Pancras. Nobody has said that this is a stupid question, nobody has said that they acknowledge this duty of care and nobody has said that they don't acknowledge it. They have all passed their letter on to somebody else, but nobody will answer this question: who can take responsibility for anything, unlikely as it may be, unforeseen, in the next 50 years? Those are our feelings about the scheme.

Natalie Bennett: I think that Frankie might like to make a point.

Frankie Biney: Yes. I have lived in Somers Town for the past 20 years and been involved in numerous projects like bicycle projects. We had a community centre by a local pub, which is where we had our bicycles fixed, the parents knew each other and so on. When they came to build St Pancras station, we were all promised, "Oh, it's all good for your community", blah, blah, blah, blah. That went up. Most of the community broke up. The pub was taken out. We couldn't have our bicycle projects where we wanted them to be. We have got that big building. We have got the Unison building. If you live in St Pancras and you see all these things going up, then you wonder, "What are they doing for us and the community?" We are not getting anything out of it.

To the best of my knowledge, that plot, when it was sold, was supposed to be 50% housing for the community, whereby we will have a community facility where we can socialise, and that's for the people who live in Somers Town. All we are seeing is buildings coming up. The university has put a big building up there somewhere. They are just taking over. Basically, there are a whole lot of people leaving the community. We are just a handful left. So what advantage is all this? Yes, we want some science, but why use the little plot that we have? It is the last plot in Somers Town. Why should they have that? Why can't we use it as something for the community?

Natalie Bennett: I am so sorry. We did get a little away from your question. To sum up, we have a site that is almost literally within spitting distance from the Eurostar Terminal, where you can get to Paris within two hours and you will soon be able to get to Berlin in four hours or something. If you stood at the entrance gate and you've got really good lungs, you, literally, could spit into St Pancras station. If you are going to employ a precautionary principle of, "Does it really make sense to put this major facility with health risks there?", of course it is true that there are many labs broadly in the area that do some of this work already, but that is a historical accident. Some of those historical science buildings have been there for, literally, a century or more when that was the outskirts of London. Just because things have happened in the past and have historically developed, it does not mean that we have to continue them.

Finally, I think it is worth pointing out that often the consortium has been saying, "Oh, we are only dealing with flu." That is what they often say to the community. Now, that would be the virus that killed between 50 million and 100 million people in 1918 that has caused widespread panic with H5N1 and swine flu over the past couple of years. While I would agree that there have been some exaggerated tales going around, I believe that the security and safety concerns of the community are very strong, well-founded and perfectly reasonable.

Q70   David Morris: Much of my question has been answered by yourselves. It is a fact that the UK is a world leader in biomedical research and this is an area where we have to build on our success. It has been explained through Mr Stringer's question about the strategic importance of the rail links and the networks. We have also heard an explanation about the larger site at Mill Hill and how that does have expansion properties. However, as to the St Pancras site, Professor Malcolm Grant, in the previous panel, said that there is no room to expand. Overall, why should we disregard the initiative of the four leading organisations to have this facility placed in St Pancras?

Rob Inglis: We think this wondrous vision seemed to have come into existence before Sir Paul Nurse was involved to give it vision. It seemed to be an exciting cluster to accelerate the pace of translational science, convenient to the partners and a good place for scientists dropping off. The actual vision, about which you asked questions, seemed to come later, and it still seems to be uncertain. Speakers for UKCMRI said, "That will become clearer as time goes on."

Could I quote Sir Paul Nurse from the American magazine Science dated 23 July 2010? When asked to describe his vision for UKCMRI, Sir Paul Nurse said: "Size is important for multidisciplinary approach. Because it's large, it doesn't have to have a particular focus. It won't be divided into academic departments. Individuals can belong to several groups and can withdraw from one to join another." When asked about the push for more translational medicine research, Sir Paul said: "I'm beginning to think that this is something that nobody has got on top of properly. We have scientists, clinicians, the pharmaceutical industry. I'm not certain we've worked hard enough on the sociology of that, to get that to work well." It seems to me as though Sir Paul's very important contribution came later in the day after the original convenience—I say it is a cosy convenience—of this site for the partners that had caused them to come together.

Q71   David Morris: So you believe that the Mill Hill site should be developed because of its size and it can be expanded?

Rob Inglis: Absolutely. We have submitted a paper, an amendment, which came from six or eight workers at Mill Hill some years ago saying that animals are housed in four or five different buildings some distance from the main building and if there is a biochemical breakdown, it can't spread rapidly. It can be controlled. They also feel that the use of animals will be much more economical there; there won't have to be so many used and put to death. Moving those facilities into London is much more difficult.

Beyond that, if we take this claim seriously of building an institution which is a challenge to the world, an example to the world in science, then, surely, we want to do it not by an accident of this being convenient for these partners, and then Sir Paul Nurse being asked to join. Surely it needs to be better planned over a long-range period. We are convinced that Mill Hill is a much better research site.

Natalie Bennett: There are lots of practical things, too, in terms of construction costs. I am sure you are all well aware, in terms of central London, that construction costs are much higher and the potential for interference in construction costs is much greater. Because of the small size of the site—I have seen varying figures—they are going either four or five storeys down. I can't tell you precisely the cost per square foot of excavating five storeys down into a water table, into a site with which the British Library had huge problems. Clearly, there are massive extra costs involved. Just think of all the trucks, in a site of more than 3 acres, carrying five storeys' worth of spoil out of the site besides St Pancras station, on to the Euston Road and all those sorts of things. There is a cost factor in that.

Also, is this really a suitable site? John Mason, who is here today, did some figures on this, and of this whole construction, 57.5% of the floor area is plant—so nearly 60% of it is plant—41% is lab space and 6% is public area. This is really an industrial building in central London. That is basically what they are putting in, at a far higher cost than it would be if it was at Mill Hill.

Q72   David Morris: To be devil's advocate, do you think all of these new construction jobs coming into the area would be beneficial to the local economy and to its general development? Do you think it would be a good thing for the local economy?

Rob Inglis: The history of such things—the CTRL, all the work on the railways to the rejuvenated St Pancras station, and so far the 67 acres at King's Cross Central—shows that they have resulted in very little local employment. We are very sceptical about that.

Natalie Bennett: I think it would be useful, perhaps, to paint a picture of what this community is. Maybe you think of central London and this isn't what you think of. St Pancras and Somers Town has a large, white, traditional working class community. It also has large Bangladeshi and Somali communities and lots of other minority communities. More than 30% of the people are 19 or under. 20% of them have life limiting long-term illnesses, despite the fact that only 14% of them are 60 and over. Only 66% of people describe their health as good. Nearly 10% describe themselves as permanently sick or disabled. 50% of them rent from the council and 20% from social housing landlords. Nearly 50% of them have a household income below £25,000—this, of course, is in central London—and 33% have no qualifications. Also, many of them live in hugely overcrowded houses. I was talking to a lady outside the school recently and she has four children and two adults in a two-bedroom flat, and that is a small two-bedroom flat.

As Frankie alluded to, if you think about community use of this land, the planning brief was for 50% housing and 50% social housing. If you think about what would happen to that, some of that, no doubt, would be sheltered housing, which would be caring jobs. There would be lots of jobs. You would generate at least as many construction jobs in the work. So the alternative uses for the land would be considerably—hugely—more beneficial for the community, as was recognised by the planning brief that said that this is what was necessary.

If you think about Somers Town, it is a community that grew up to support the railways. People traditionally worked on the railways and in associated industries. What has happened is that the land has been carved away from the community. The British Library was built. Very few members of the St Pancras and Somers Town community have a job in the British Library. St Pancras station ditto. What you are talking about are, basically, minimum wage retail jobs that are extremely difficult to live on long-term and build a life on. These things simply haven't catered to the pre-existing community that is there or helped them at all. We think this is the last piece of land left.

The UKCMRI could go anywhere. We think that staying at Mill Hill would be sensible, but for the people of St Pancras and Somers Town this is the last space we have left. If the building is constructed, then we are, literally, hemmed in, crammed in and squashed in upon. We will have had our last opportunity taken away from us.

David Morris: Thank you for a very informed answer.

Q73   Stephen Metcalfe: Can you tell me what sort of level of engagement you have had between yourselves, the council and UKCMRI? What are the lines of communication between all the organisations involved?

Natalie Bennett: You could, basically, say that we have been very disappointed by this. The community is, broadly, very uninformed. It is a community, as I alluded to, that needs things in different languages. It needs lots of access and lots of time. They have tended to open things during working hours. The display centre on the site has mostly been opened during working hours and one Saturday a month. When letters went out, even about the development control hearing meeting, they went to some 700 households. We can count in the estates, along the two sides, that there are 1,200 households in the immediate vicinity to the site. We think that the engagement of the community in terms of information has been very poor. It is interesting to note, as you will see in the UKCMRI's own submission, that the largest public meeting was the meeting that we called and held just before the building application went in.

Rob Inglis: On 4 October.

Natalie Bennett: The UKCMRI declined to come to that meeting until 12 o'clock on the day of the meeting, when they decided that they were going to come to the meeting after all, which created some difficulties for us.

On the broader question of engagement, there is, of course, a section 106 agreement with the council, which contains some useful things in terms of contributions to combined heat and power, to decent homes and those sorts of things, but they are not giving the community what it really needs, which is land, space and housing. What is happening is that the consortium is saying, "Because we are a charity we don't have to meet many of the normal requirements of these things", which is where, of course, the terms of the pharmaceutical industry's involvement starts to become of interest and a question for the community. If the pharmaceutical industry is heavily involved in this, where is the contribution?

The UKCMRI used to call it a "Healthy Living Centre", but they are now calling it a "Living Centre", which is, basically, a little room tacked on to the back end of the actual lab. It is, basically, a room. They say, "We are going to do things like have yoga classes" and that sort of thing. St Pancras and Somers Town, I am sure, is an area similar to what many of your constituencies have. We have the Hillwood Age Concern Centre, which is expected to close. We have two community centres that are both gravely concerned about their future in terms of funding of the programmes coming in. There is Plot 10, which is the play centre which has been in existence for 30 years, that is hugely valued by the community, and pupils from four schools walk in little crocodiles each afternoon to go to this play centre. All of those things are threatened and all of those things are buildings and structures that are in place. A couple of years back, when they were talking about this, they might have said, "Oh, it would be nice to have another community centre where we can have some more space and do some more things", but that is really no longer the issue. The issue now is who is going to find the funding to run programmes? We are not short of rooms but we need the programmes, the services and funding for those things.

In terms of the views of the community, huge numbers of letters did not go in on the planning application. If you went into the council office and saw the folders and folders of the planning application, and if you tried to download the PDF off the council website, which has thousands and thousands of pages, it was very difficult for this community to engage in this process, but the consortium has not made it easy.

Frankie Biney: It is so disheartening. When you try to gather people to come down and say, "Look, we've got to go to a meeting and go and fight about this laboratory", they say, "No, forget about it. It's going to be built anyway." From past experience, everything that we have fought for, we have never got anything. So people are just disheartened.

Rob Inglis: Whether it has been propaganda or whatever, from one of our MPs all the way down, there has been the statement, "It's a done deal." That is because of the commitment of Prime Minister Brown, previously, and seemingly of this Government, particularly bearing in mind the policies which Vince Cable might pursue. People have felt powerless before this. That is why there has not been the degree of response and protest that we would have liked. At Camden Council, just in response to 700 letters, there was a spokesman representing 456 households in one of the densest areas and there were half a dozen local groups that were represented.

Q74   Stephen Metcalfe: How many attended the public meeting that you held with UKCMRI?

Natalie Bennett: It was about 80 people.

Q75   Stephen Metcalfe: Do you feel that they have taken any of your views into account? Were there not some proposals to the change of the design of the building that were incorporated?

Natalie Bennett: They did change, basically, the roof line of the building. In a way that was a reaction to the fact that the first design was even more bluntly and obviously an industrial building. It looked like a building that belonged on an industrial estate that you would find on the outskirts of Luton or some such—I am sorry, at many other places and industrial estates on the outskirts of towns. They changed that design because there was an outcry, but that was an outcry about appearance. Whether it looks more attractive now you can argue about. Perhaps it does. It was more glass mirrored walls before. They have now put in some fake stone. So it is less like that.

If you look at the submission that came into the council from the conservation area committee, because it is on the edge of a conservation area, that committee was strongly opposed to the plan on appearance grounds. This is right besides St Pancras station, which is grade 1 listed. It is one of the most valued architectural buildings in the country. It is right beside the British Library, which, although it may not be old enough to be listed yet, I am sure will be one day. It is also right beside Chamberlain House and Levita House, which are grade 2 listed examples of very valuable early social housing. What it looks like, really, is an alien spaceship that has come down and been plonked right in the middle of these valued historic buildings. It now might be a slightly more attractive spaceship than it was originally, but that is basically the extent of the change that has occurred in response to lots of community complaints.

Q76   Gavin Barwell: I would like to pick up on one of Stephen's previous questions and then we will give you a general wrap-up question at the end. One of the things that struck me when you were replying to Stephen is that this building is very constrained in terms of floor space compared with the provision at Mill Hill. It does seem to be strange that they are giving you, albeit you say a room, this Living Centre, that you don't actually want, and what you would rather have is some kind of contribution to keep the existing centres going that you have in your community. Have you made that point directly to the consortium?

Natalie Bennett: This is an issue that has only just arisen. As you are all well aware, the rate of funding cutbacks has shocked everyone in the past few months. That isn't a discussion we have had with them. We have had a long discussion about the issue of housing. As was alluded to earlier, in an earlier incantation they were going to move on to the National Temperance Hospital site, which, although it is not actually in St Pancras and Somers Town ward, is basically just on the other side of the railway line. One of the things that we have talked to them a great deal about, or certain people have, is the potential of that going for housing instead as a contribution to the fact that they are not providing the housing that the planning brief provided for on the site.

This morning with us is Councillor Roger Robinson, who is a long-time representative of this area. He will often refer to the fact that Camden Council has a waiting list of 17,000 households. The consortium owns, on the National Temperance Hospital site, a site that would have the potential to do at least something. We would still much rather have this land but that land would be something else. They are still intending to sell that at commercial rates on a commercial basis.

Q77   Gavin Barwell: You have put on the record very clearly what you would consider to be a better community contribution if this plan has to go ahead. You have heard the answer that they gave in the earlier session in relation to whether the project will be delivered in budget and on time. I wanted to give you a chance at the end to make any comments that any of you would like to make about that as a final wrap-up question.

Natalie Bennett: I will start on that. I was taken by a quote. I didn't write down who said it. One of the witnesses said that very careful thought was given to the site. When you think about that, it is astonishing. First, this is a project that started with two partners and they bought the National Temperance Hospital site, and then they decided it was too small. Your predecessors on a previous Science and Technology Committee were pretty scathing about the way they had rushed into that particular purchase. Then they rushed over here and basically tried to whack the largest possible thing they could get away with on to this site.

One of the other speakers said, "This will come in on time and on budget." Quite reasonably, a member of the Committee had some doubts about that. If you look at the history of the site, it would be astonishing if this project, on a site in central London with all the problems, came in on time and on budget. They don't really know what they are going to do with this site. They are creating a big fancy thing and hoping it will fill up, work out and turn out to be wonderful. They are spending a lot of public money and charity money in the process.

Rob Inglis: We feel that, whatever they aim to do and state to do here, it could be done much more safely and in a much more building-for-the-future way at Mill Hill. We noted from one of the previous statements from Steven Ley to one of your previous committees that the decision to leave Mill Hill was irregularly arrived at. The vote was via telephone and email, it was 5 to 4, and the casting vote was the chairman's. We feel that that clearly was influenced by the lure of moving to central London as though Mill Hill were an impossible journey. It is not. It is about 10 to 15 minutes on the train. The fact is that the National Temperance Hospital was bought and then there is sudden realisation it is not big enough. Then the partners get together and say, "Ah, how great. There is this site right besides St Pancras Station." I believe it is a matter of convenience and novelty. All those things come together in a whirlwind. Then Sir Paul Nurse is brought in to introduce a vision. We believe that the whole thing has hurtled along in an imprecise and ill-thought-out way.

Frankie Biney: Since it is our last bit of space, Somers Town needs something for the community. We have got everything around us but what about us?

Rob Inglis: If I could just add, John Mason, who is here, has made the point that what is this current plan for UKCMRI but Mill Hill transposed to a smaller space plus one public hall, and a fairly small one at that? What's the difference? We query how much more effective and faster the furnishing of new medical developments will be because of the location vis-à-vis Mill Hill.

Natalie Bennett: If I could take one minute on that point, 60% of this is plant. Here you are in central London basically putting a factory there. The officer for the council said: "…assurances were given to Members that chemical fumes emitted from the building would be dispersed. They may give rise to smells in the short term, but would cause no harm." Just imagine if President Sarkozy hops off the Eurostar, sniffs and says, "Gosh, why did they put a factory in central London right beside the Eurostar Terminal?

Chair: You can't have all the factories in other constituencies. Your group has made yourself very clear. You regard it as a carbuncle, although not necessarily a monstrous one. It is in the wrong place and it is the wrong project for the location. You have been extremely clear to us and we thank you very much for your helpful evidence today. Thank you.

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