Glasgow & West Scotland

Plan for immigration removal centre at Glasgow Airport rejected

Removal centre Image copyright Grove Developments
Image caption The plans would have seen the construction of a 51-bed short-term holding facility at Glasgow Airport

Plans for an immigration removal centre next to Glasgow Airport have been unanimously rejected by councillors.

The UK Home Office wants to build a 51-bed "short-term holding facility" on Abbotsinch Road to house those awaiting removal from the country.

It follows the announcement in September that the controversial Dungavel removal centre in Lanarkshire is to close in 2017.

The plans for the new centre were rejected by Renfrewshire Council.

Councillors said the new building, which was planned for construction on the site of a former British Airways social club, would be "detrimental to the economic development of the Glasgow Airport Investment Area".

The holding centre was to feature 20 bedrooms and ancillary accommodation over two floors.

The plans said the building would have to be "robust in order to hold and safeguard individuals detained by Home Office Immigration enforcement".

The Home Office said the "vast majority" of stays there would be for less than a week.

The decision to reject the holding centre was made by Renfrewshire Council's planning and property policy board.

The council's planning officers had recommended the application be granted with conditions.

Councillor Terry Kelly, convener of the planning board, said: "Members were unanimously of the view that the proposed facility would be contrary to the Adopted Renfrewshire Local Development Plan.

"There was clear concern it would be detrimental to the economic development of the Glasgow Airport Investment Area - one of the key economic drivers for the city region.

"Members agreed that there was no established identifiable functional link between the proposal and Glasgow Airport's operations.

"The proposed facility's location in a commercial and industrial area would also introduce an inappropriate use through the attendant noise, activity and disturbance."

Image caption Dungavel detention centre is due to close next year

Dungavel, which opened near Strathaven in 2001, has been the subject of numerous protests, which branded the site "racist and inhumane"

Much of the criticism concentrated on the detention of children at the facility, before the practice was ended in 2010.

More recently it has focused on the length of time detainees were held at the facility and the conditions inside.

Last year, the BBC revealed that dozens of failed asylum seekers had been held at Dungavel for months and in some cases more than a year.

SNP MP Gavin Newlands said Renfrewshire Council should be "congratulated for rejecting" the new immigration detention centre near Glasgow Airport.

He said: "It was clear that the local community didn't want any part in the UK government's inhumane and ineffective approach towards immigration detention.

"The prime minister should take note of this decision and rethink her government's approach towards immigration detention - a system which detains pregnant women and allows the indefinite detention of some of the most vulnerable people in our society."

Green MSP Ross Greer, who was at a demonstration outside Renfrewshire Council's headquarters before the vote, said: "This must be an opportunity for Westminster to begin treating these vulnerable people with some dignity and respect.

"We're not holding our breath however, given that this is the same Home Office which paid for disgusting billboards telling refugees and immigrants to 'go home' and which regularly deports people back to situations where they are in clear danger."

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