Reduced demand prompts closure of Staffordshire’s council-run laboratory
31 Jul 2017
One of the last local authority-run laboratories in England is to be closed with the loss of 16 posts.
Staffordshire County Council’s scientific services unit was estimated to be running a deficit of £108,000 per year and was last in surplus three years ago.
It was set up in 1929 to offer testing, advice and customer support to clients in both the public and private sectors.
The laboratory is accredited to UKAS Quality Standard ISO/IEC 17025 and is an Official Control Laboratory as defined by European legislation.
Its remit includes the nutritional and chemical analysis of foods, detection of contaminants in food, analysis of animal feed and fertilisers, pollution analysis and safety testing of consumer goods.
The laboratory developed a customer base by providing services for a variety of local authorities across the Midlands and elsewhere in the UK.
It also built a portfolio of commercial customers throughout the UK and internationally, enabling the laboratory to seek capital for investment in equipment and personnel.
However, a council spokesperson said that increasingly effective regulation in sectors such as food and drink had reduced the regularity of local authority demands. These now comprise just 10% of the lab’s output.
At the same time, earnings from commercial customers and other public sector bodies had not been sufficient to meet the costs of running the service.
Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire and Worcestershire are among the other English local authorities that continue to run their own scientific laboratories, together with four in Scotland.
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