05/09/2011

Plans to close Defra Veterinary Laboratory in Aberystwyth

More public sector jobs are under threat in Aberystwyth following the recent revelation that the Defra Veterinary Laboratory on the Buarth has been earmarked for closure.

The Prospect trade union has revealed that the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) has submitted proposals to the Westminster Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman MP, which would see both Aberystwyth and Carmarthen laboratories closed by April 2013.

Ceredigion's Assembly Member Elin Jones AM said:

“I’ve long suspected that a move to close the vet lab at Aberystwyth was on the cards but those closure plans have been resisted until now. Losing good science-based jobs will be a big blow to Ceredigion.

“In Aberystwyth there is a longstanding expertise in agriculture and land-based jobs with the University and IBERS, but this would be eroded by the closure of the vet lab.

“Closing both the labs at Aberystwyth and Carmarthen will leave Wales without any such facilities. Given the high livestock numbers in Wales, the work carried out in these Defra centres is essential in the fight to eradicate animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth, Bovine TB and Bluetongue”.

The closure would mean people having to go to Shrewsbury for the service in future. There's been no local consultation on the proposals and seemingly no consideration of how the closure might affect the local area. Aberystwyth can't afford to lose another key public sector facility with the knock-on effects for the wider local economy.

2 comments:

  1. 35 years ago there were 4 such laboratories in Wales - Cardiff, Bangor, Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. Cardiff went first. Bangor went about 15 years ago. Now they propose to have none.
    Wales used to have the highest density of sheep of any country in the world.

    These laboratories did not have a primary role in F&M or Bluetongue control but did examine a lot of badgers for TB. They had an important surveillance role for new and emerging diseases, for poisoning of farm livestock and wildlife and for zoonoses such as salmonella and E.coli O157.
    Aberystwyth was a parasitology reference laboratory.

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  2. Thanks David. To illustrate your point, when I called in at the Aberystwyth lab recently to offer support, a worker there gave me an example of how a farmer had, the previous week, called in unannounced at the Carmarthen lab with a diseased sheep. The lab was able to diagnose and address the problem immediately. That kind of service will no longer be available anywhere in Wales and presumably many problems will not be nipped in the bud so quickly. Amazing.

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