I noted recently how local Green Party councillor Andrew Cooper posted a response on his blog to a letter, published by the Huddersfield Examiner, from a Dr David Hill. Dr Hill intends to stand as an independent candidate for the Golcar ward of Kirklees Council at the local election in May. I therefore decided I would do a little research to learn about more him.
It seems that Dr Hill splits his time between running his planning and building regulations design consultancy in Huddersfield and travelling the world as Executive Director of the World Innovation Foundation (WIF) which is registered in Bern, Switzerland but based in Huddersfield.
It isn’t clear however what the WIF actually do. The principle activity seems to be to bolster its notability by offering prominent individuals fellowships which in many cases they will politely accept.
Those “members” include current MPs Gary Streeter, Brian Donohoe, Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan, and Minister of State for the Armed Forces Nick Harvey. There are also former MPs including Angela Browning, John Heppell, Nick Hawkins, David Jamieson, and Bill Olner. Lord Browne, who chaired the higher education review, is apparently a member, as is Nobel Prize recipient Desmond Tutu.
“This is in response to your e-mail titled ‘Honorary President of the World Innovation Foundation’. I would be pleased to serve as Honorary President of the World Innovation Foundation. Thank you for thinking of me in filling this very important role.”
According to The Yorkshire Post (“Whatever happened to British inventiveness?”, 29 May 2003), the WIF was formed by David Hill sometime around when he took a Masters degree in construction engineering at Leeds University after his construction company went bust. The WIF was originally known as the Institute of National Economic Enrichment and Development (INEED).
One of the WIF’s
plans fantasies is the construction of an “Open Research Establishment”, basically a glorified science and technology park. The Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph reported (“50-BILLION SCIENCE FICTION?”, 5 May 2005) that the WIF had identified a possible site in North Lincolnshire for its £50bn and 2,500 acre development.
The Telegraph reports that the “WIF was founded as the Institute of National Economic Enrichment and Development in 1992 by the late Dr Glenn Seaborg”. However, it is clear from Seaborg’s comments above that this perhaps isn’t the most accurate description of the organisation’s formation.
The very next day, the Telegraph published another article relating to the WIF (“50bn science ‘city’ scheme is questioned”, 6 May 2005). The article reports how the Telegraph spoke to the University of Hull who told them that vice-chancellor David Drury had “joined the organisation as an honorary member in November 2004 and has had limited correspondence, but he knows nothing about this project”.
It also said that former Chief Inspector of Schools Chris Woodhead, who was listed as a WIF member on the organisation’s website, was not involved with the organisation and knew nothing about the project. A spokesman for investment firm Goldman Sachs said he was not aware of their involvement with the WIF. It isn’t clear but presumably the Telegraph had been given the impression by Hill that Goldman Sachs were involved in some way. The Telegraph had apparently not been unable to get back in touch with Dr Hill after their research.
A little more about Dr Hill himself again. Letters from Hill frequently appear in the Huddersfield Examiner and he seems to make comments on a huge variety of websites across the internet, sometimes under the name “bettysenior”. He was an independent candidate for Golcar at the local elections last year and managed to get 289 votes (3.3%). Someone named David Hill stood as a Green Party candidate for Crosland Moor in the local elections in 2002, 2003, and 2004, and so I wonder whether this was the same person.
As an aspiring councillor, I think there are a few questions which Dr Hill might like to answer. The most fundamental is whether, as chief executive of an organisation apparently planning the construction of a £50bn “Open Research Establishment”, does he really have enough spare time he could dedicate to being a member of Kirklees Council? It would also be helpful to learn a bit more about how he came to become Dr Hill. He was apparently awarded an honorary higher doctorate from the Academy of Sciences of Kyrgystan in 2004. What has he achieved that merited this award?
This all seems a bit, well strange.
On an unrelated note, I wonder if I started a credible sounding organisation and found a famous scientist to accept an invitation to be honorary president, how difficult would it then be to find other famous scientists and engineers to willing accept a fellowship?