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Bob Walker. The Debate Over Asylum Centres.

by Bob Walker

The government has backed down over accommodation camps for asylum seekers in the face of opposition in the House of Lords.

It was going to build three big ones. Now it's dropped plans for the one at Throckmorton in Worcestershire - residents there are celebrating. But the others - in Nottinghamshire and Oxfordshire - are still due to go ahead.

Where originally the government had planned to build three large centres to house asylum seekers, the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill now includes plans for smaller accommodation in urban areas together with two larger centres in Nottinghamshire and Oxfordshire centres. Refugees will stay at the centres for a maximum of nine months.

The concessions have been made to secure an easier passage for the bill , although the children of asylum seekers will still be educated away outside local schools.

An announcement earlier this year that the Home Office was looking at three sites, each housing up to 750 asylum seekers, caused predictable anger in local communities.

The leader of Wychavon District Council, which had opposed the plans, said residents in the Throckmorton area were delighted at the news that their centre at the former RAF Pershore had been scapped.

Councillor Malcolm Meikle said: "Despite the civil servants' views that an application would be submitted shortly, it was our perception that the problems associated with this site were becoming more and more difficult to resolve. No doubt the residents in the surrounding areas will be delighted with this news and hopefully be able to relax a little more as the festive season approaches."

But campaigners fighting the proposed centre at the former RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire described the developments at Throckmorton as a setback. Halina Geary, leader of the Newton Action Group, said she feared the proposed site near Bingham would now be forced to take more asylum seekers if it went ahead. She said the Government's climbdown on Throckmorton did not signal a change in policy on rural asylum centres. "It is a smokescreen, we have never thought that Throckmorton would go ahead anyway," she said.


The former RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire - still in the running as a base for 750 asylum seekers.
The former RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire - still in the running as a base for 750 asylum seekers
Listen - Bob Walker's report in full. (06/11/02)
Nottinghamshire campaigner Haline Geary and her son who live on the site of the former RAF Newton base
Nottinghamshire campaigner Haline Geary and her son who live on the site of the former RAF Newton base
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