On Thursday the GSK Taskforce met to discuss where we have got to since the announcement in February that GSK would be pulling out of Ulverston and selling its business to Sandoz. At the outset, we had three main aims:
* Getting a good deal for current employees – ensuring transparency and protection in relation to training and retention.
* A public recommitment by GSK to its previous undertakings to the community – namely a donation of £2m to the Ulverston Leisure Centre, and the gifting of land to South Lakeland District Council to be used for economic development.
* Support from GSK to Lakes BioScience to provide the best possible opportunity to establish a viable business on the vacated site, and enabling them not just to retain the specialist skillsets developed locally over so many years but also to expand on them.
Securing those agreements involved a huge amount of effort. Among other things, my team and I lobbied the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Business, and the Health Secretary. It also involved a corresponding effort by GSK who have worked really constructively with Government and with me to get to this positive point.
The next step will be the trickiest, namely to define what a good legacy from GSK will look like. I’m grateful to everyone who has shared their thoughts with me on this (ranging from the very reasonable and achievable to those less so).
Our next Task Force meeting will involve examining those ideas and starting our negotiations towards achieving the best outcome for the community and the area.
On Tuesday I chaired the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Cyber Security where we discussed the Online Harms Bill and how to strengthen it. The Bill is designed to stop the internet and social media being used to share hate, abuse and other illegal and unacceptable behaviours, and to improve online safety.
We heard presentations by experts from academia and business, as well as from organisations directly affected. One was the End Violence Against Women Coalition who spoke movingly about how seriously online harm caused by stalking and harassment affects people and explained why the Bill as proposed needs to…