The most significant news for the constituency in the last week was the announcement that a decision on the future of HPA Porton is to be delayed for another year.
At one level the continued uncertainty for those employed at the HPA is unwelcome.
However, the fact that, after 30 months of deliberation over the Outline Business Case (OBC), the Department of Health was not able to back an “in principle” decision to move the facilities to a proposed new site at Harlow must be seen as encouraging news.
More work will now be undertaken to review the long-term future and examine the science arguments for relocation vs reinvestment at Porton.
For me, the key issue is will the future public health outcomes be enhanced by a move? If the answer is equivocal then the conclusion must be that the Porton brand should not be dismantled.
The reality is that many of the scientists at Porton are renowned across the globe for the prescience of their research and, as a consequence, they routinely secure lucrative contracts with US government agencies and others.
You cannot just pick up the people and place them in Harlow and expect to avoid significant loss of expertise, disruption to ongoing work, significant additional costs as well as great risks to the cohesiveness and confidence of partners in the work of the teams who make up HPA Porton.
I will remain proactive in lobbying those responsible for reviewing the decision and will seek to ask questions on the numbers involved.
Of course there is sometimes a case to move facilities – but it seems to me a decision of this size should only take place when Porton’s true contribution and potential is fully examined as part of the OBC.
Parliament resumes next Monday but it has been a great pleasure to attend numerous events across the constituency in recent weeks – from an extended time washing up at a Downton coffee morning last week to a visit to Mencap’s Special Olympics on Wednesday, there are always new faces to meet and new issues to get on top of.