Thursday, February 28, 2008

[uk funding] on all but important projects

Here is British "powers-that-be" mindlessness at its worst:

Gemini South and Gemini North [astronomical facilities] are only now reaching their full potential after 15 years of development.

Is the UK in there as a major world player, now ready to reap the benefit from the facilities? Yes, yes they were. The word is "were":

Having invested something like £70m in their development, the UK currently puts about £4m into the consortium each year to maintain these remarkable telescopes.

Researchers were therefore aghast when the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which looks after UK astronomy funding, announced its intention to negotiate a withdrawal from the Gemini consortium.

Its Gemini partners (which include the US, Canada, Chile, Australia, Brazil and Argentina)) were also upset by the decision and moved swiftly to throw the UK out. They even removed UK flags from observatory buildings and the UK's name from the consortium's website.

Stating the obvious but they were already investing heavily, the STFC and they decide to pull out? We can't even begin to scratch the surface of what this says about the UK mindset, the way things are funded in our country and so on.

Immediate links for now:

Universe Today

Wiki on the STFC

STFC Funding Crisis: Astronomy.

All right - looking at funding crises generally in the UK:

* University physics departments are facing the worst funding crisis in more than 20 years following government budget cuts, academics warn today.

* In the ombudsman's annual report 2002-2003 (HC 760) published in June, she said that she had completed three further investigations into long term care since her special report in February 2003. These have “highlighted serious deficiencies in eligibility criteria and assessments, which had resulted in severe financial hardship in some cases and had widespread implications for other people in a similar position”.

* Then the bomb drops when you get further down the ACE website and read: "Here is a list of the 65 confirmed new regularly funded organisations for 2008-2011." It then continues: "A further 16 new investments are planned, details of these will be added to this page as they are confirmed. Here is a list of the organisations we are no longer funding." And that is the bombshell - over 200 [arts] organisations have been removed from the funding.

* Ministers are being forced to abandon a scheme designed to improve teaching standards and discipline in schools as a result of this year's education funding crisis. One of the aims of the £59m programme was to give newly qualified teachers tips on classroom control and how to deal with unruly behaviour.

And so it goes on - rape crisis centres, youth work and so on. Ian Parker reports:

DK writes today of how the public sector debt is just continuing to rise, as it has done from the day that Gordon Brown took the reigns of the economy. How fortunate ... that Burning Our Money is prepared to take the time to work it out.

My goodness - the UK is bankrupt, it seems. There's really no money left in Britain? Well there is, if you are a new region funded by the EU, especially through CP. See The Common Purpose across Europe. If you're a region, you realize how hopeless UK funding is and how "gravy train" EU funding is, along with all the attached strings:

Most British regions would prefer to be funded from Brussels than from the Treasury. "You are given funding as a result of objective criteria, and you have the certainty of being given it for a six-year period so you can plan," one UK regional official said. "But if it comes direct from Whitehall it all depends on politics, and it could all be taken away at any moment to be spent on health or education."

Yep, as John Trenchard shows, there's plenty of funding ... of the "right kind" in EU terms:

Yet more EU funding from another regional authority - the London Development Agency.

Even more funding , via the EU, courtesy of EMDA.

Yet more funding from the EU

So, in this happy EU frame of mind, they'll also fund solutions to real local crises, won't they? Er ... no:

Merseyside and South Yorkshire are to lose their "Objective One" status funds, given to regenerate poor areas.

To recapitulate - anything involving regenerating poor areas, local crisis management and genuine needs - the EU won't fund. But they will fund well-being projects, Arndale type centres and Anfield. Neither the EU nor the UK will fund national prestige projects, e.g. the Gemini observatories.



jams o donnell said...

This cut is utterly ridiculous especially given the money that was put up to develop Gemini

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Sigh - yes. The whole damned funding biz - and yet the regions are being flooded with EU money.

Wolfie said...

Oh but Physicists tend to be so hideously white and positively lacking in the qualities that nu-labour love to promote. Science is so yesterday.

Wolfie said...

This is what they are looking for (see page banner).


Maybe we should cut back on funding P.M's.


Richard Branson will save us!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

And I thought such fiascos only happened in Italy!