United action takes up Whitehall slack

With just four weeks to go before the Technology Strategy Board opens its call for crop protection research projects, and a major public holiday in between, it seems unthinkable that discussions are still going on within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on whether grower cash gathered through the Horticultural Development Company levy can legally be used to match fund R&D monies put up by the board for competitive bid.

What makes the situation even more unforgivable is that the classification of levy funds as public money was raised by industry representatives directly with the environment secretary more than a year ago. How could the board not know?

Tiring of this latest dose of Whitehall sclerosis, bodies across the ornamentals sector — which faces the double whammy of losing its last direct source of R&D funding in the shape of HortLINK — are taking a united stand, pursuing plans for an arm's-length vehicle that can get round the constraints.

Their action is a great example of the kind of "unity of purpose" that Professor Geoff Dixon notes will be required by the bucket load if horticulture is to secure a better year across all its diverse sectors in 2010.

In the green space sector too, the urgent need for interest groups to present a united front has been recognised by members of the Green Link partnership in advance of what will be a tough year in public sector circles. Here's to the success of such initiatives — and more examples of united industry action in 2010.

 

 


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