Ellesmere Port & Neston MP, Justin Madders has raised the closure of the Fab Lab in Ellesmere Port in a letter to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid MP.
The Fab Lab closed its doors on Saturday (5th March), after confirming that funding could not be secured from the Manufacturing Institute, the charity which founded the centre. Justin immediately raised the matter with the Manufacturing Institute, before asking the Leader of the House of Commons for a debate on the issue in Parliament on Thursday:
Justin Madders (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab): I was disappointed to learn of the closure of the Fab Lab in Ellesmere Port, which provides advice and opportunities for entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and represents an important part of the future of manufacturing, as well as contributing to the regeneration of the high street. If the Government are really serious about the northern powerhouse, why are they allowing this excellent facility to close? May we please have a debate so that we can ask when Ministers will start putting their words into action?
Justin has now written to the Secretary of State, asking him to intervene and find funding to secure the future of the site.
Commenting, Justin said:
“I am extremely dissapointed by the closure of the Fab Lab, which inspired hundreds of young people to become more interested in science, technology and engineering, as well as adding much needed vibrancy to the high-street.”
“I’m asking the Secretary of State to step-in and help to secure funding to give the facility a future. If Ministers are serious about their Northern Powerhouse agenda, we need to see them put their money where their mouth is.”
The text of Justin's letter is below:
4 March 2016
Re: The Fab Lab, Whitby Road, Ellesmere Port
I was extremely disappointed to learn at very short notice that the Fab Lab in Ellesmere Port is to close tomorrow, less than three years after it was opened by your predecessor, Sir Vince Cable.
As I am sure you are aware, the Fab Lab was designed to allow budding entrepreneurs, small businesses, young people and community groups to design and make everything from electronics and 3D scale models to games, gifts and artwork. In the short time that it has been open, it has been extremely successful in encouraging young people to develop their interests in Science,
Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), which has been a shared objecting of successive governments.
The decision to close the Fab Lab came after a notice was provided by the Manufacturing Institute that it was no longer able continue providing grant support. I understand that this was linked to funding issues experienced by the Institute nationally. A number of other funding bids have also unfortunately been unsuccessful.
Given the government's policy of seeking to increase the uptake of STEM subjects, as well the Northern Powerhouse agenda, the closure of this popular and successful facility is a retrograde step. Against that background, I would ask that you urgently intervene and ensure that funding is provided to safeguard the future of the Fab Lab in Ellesmere Port.
I look forward to your early response.