AN MP has vowed to fight to save more than 350 jobs under threat at Daresbury Laboratory.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is shedding 600 science jobs nationwide, with the current Daresbury staff of more than 500 being reduced to 140 by April 2009.

The cuts come after a budget review found the STFC to be £80m worse off than it had expected. Staff were e-mailed, inviting them to apply for voluntary redundancy with job losses planned across all departments.

Weaver Vale MP, Mike Hall, said: “We were expecting about 80 job losses when the Synchtron Radiation Source stops working at the end of the year, so the job losses announced on top of that are quite a shock.”

In December the laboratory received a vote of confidence from the Government when Daresbury and its sister operation in Oxfordshire, learned it was to receive £1.9billion over three years from the UK’s £4billion science budget, to fund research into a next generation light source.

The decision was welcomed by Mr Hall and Halton MP, Derek Twigg, who have been pressing for Daresbury Laboratories to be kept at the forefront of scientific research and innovation.

Mr Hall added: “In December the Government made strong commitments to the laboratories future, now the STFC has made an announcement that because of a shortfall of £80m it will be making cuts and calling for redundancies.What I’m now doing is making contact with John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and exploring with him what is actually going on. The Government is saying one thing and the STFC are doing another.

“We want absolute assurance that Daresbury has a long term future. The announcement of significant job losses was a bolt from the blue and causes real concern.”

Industry insiders fear the cuts could hamper chances of the site successfully bidding for private investment and government research contracts.