The task force has published its initial report to HM Government, covering the first 30 days of its work. And a very impressive document it is too. They've totally immersed themselves in finding solutions to the withdrawal of Pfizer from east Kent and have undertaken much activity, including visiting Runcorn to look at the splendid work done there since the withdrawal of ICI; Paul Carter described this visit as "inspirational". Of course, the experience gleaned from there is invaluable best practice in retaining a cluster of Contract Research Organisations (CROs). Runcorn has more jobs on site now than it did in ICI's heyday, and they've proven that this can provide a positive basis around which further economic activity and job opportunities can be generated.
Paul Carter was deeply authoritative in laying out his full report, showing his mastery of the subject (he clearly has thought of nothing else since the news broke; I bet he doesn't sleep at night). David Willets, science minister, said a few words in support, as did the local MPs Laura Sandys (in whose constituency the site lies) and Charlie Elphicke from the neighbouring seat. Laura Sandys is pretty and energetic and looks like she could animate and enthuse any project; rather a good person to have as constituency MP for an area in total transition, I'd have thought. I was encouraged by her.
At one point, a member of the press asked what the national strategy was for retaining pharmaceutical companies in the UK; Paul Carter responded, rather amusingly, by saying that was "above his pay grade" and deferred to David Willets; Mr Willets gave a response which seemed very elegant but, to my untutored ear, a little short on specific proposals. But he's uber-smart, of course; perhaps I was just too stupid to understand what he was saying.
The very best bit in the task force's initial report is the introduction of a variant on the Enterprise Zone idea for Sandwich. The task force is calling for a RITZ: a research, innovation & technology zone. I think this is unbelievably clever; actually, I think this is totally inspired.