Barton Stacey asylum seeker cabin site 'would be open prison'

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Image source, Test Valley Borough Council
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Asylum seekers would be housed on Ministry of Defence land near the A303, the council said

Plans to accommodate up to 500 asylum seekers in cabins near a village have been condemned by both the local MP and council leader.

Test Valley Borough Council leader Phil North said the "substandard" homes near Barton Stacey, Hampshire, would be like an "open prison".

Fellow Conservative Caroline Nokes MP said the site would infringe rules on development.

The Home Office said any accommodation would be "of the required standard".

'Criminality increase'

Mr North said the site, on Ministry of Defence land near the A303, would mainly house asylum seekers who had come to the UK in boats.

He said: "Putting these individuals up in substandard temporary buildings akin to an open prison is the wrong accommodation in the wrong location.

"An influx of 500 young men in a village with an existing population of just 1,000 would have an overwhelmingly detrimental impact."

He said the site, which would have a 22:00 curfew, might lead to "an increase in anti-social behaviour and criminality".

Image source, Ian Knight
Image caption,
Development in the Solent area is restricted due to nitrate pollution

Ms Nokes, the MP for Romsey and Southampton North, said the development, which might not require planning permission, would "ride roughshod" over development restrictions due to nitrate pollution in the Solent region.

She said: "Quite apart from whether it is the right thing to do to house asylum seekers in this sort of accommodation or location, there cannot be one rule for families who want to build a new home in this area and another one for the Home Office."

The Home Office said the suggestion that the cabins would be substandard was "entirely incorrect".

It said the Ministry of Defence had offered temporary use of the site because of "pressure on the system in these unprecedented times".

A spokesperson said: "We have worked tirelessly with local authorities and other partners to provide asylum seekers, who would otherwise be destitute, with suitable accommodation - as we are required to do by law."

Test Valley Borough Council said the government was expected to make a decision in the next few weeks.

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