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banner Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 05:26 GMT 06:26 UK
Housing the asylum seekers
Yarl's Wood detention centre on fire
Some people fear a repeat of the Yarl's Wood fire

The Home Office will reveal later today, where it plans to build its new accommodation centres for asylum seekers.

It's thought there'll be at least three sites on government land - in Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, and Nottinghamshire.

But there are already local protests, against the plans.

Breakfast was live at Throckmorton, in Worcestershire, where a former airfield looks set to be one of the accommodation centres for asylum seekers.

We talked to the former Conservative Home Office Minister, Ann Widdecombe. She said:

"I think large scale detention centres are good, providing they are secure."
I'm only half pleased, these reception centres need to be secure, otherwise we will see the asylum seekers disappear, the Government hands are not tied, other countries do it, I condemn the Government's then policy of housing asylum seekers in prison, but in secure centres, that's a different matter...if they are not secure they will disappear if their appeal is dismissed...I think large scale detention is good, but they need to be secure, otherwise we will continue to be a soft touch, if we are proud not to have ID cards, and employer checks, we must make sure we tighten security.

We also spoke to the Parish Council leader Steve Mitchell in Throckmorton. He said:

"The airfield was used in the foot and mouth episode, the local community has already done enough."
The Government hasn't put any details forward. We are concerned, it is not a right place to put the asylum seekers, it is in the middle of no where, with no support networks. The airfield was used in the foot and mouth episode, the local community has already done enough. The right solution is smaller communities, in areas where they can integrate and get the right ethnic support.

(Click on the video icon on the top right hand corner of this page to watch the above interviews)

Proposed sites

  • MOD Pershore, Worcestershire
  • Sully Hospital, Cardiff, Wales
  • Hooton Park, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
  • Air West (formerly RAF Turnhouse), Edinburgh
  • MOD land, Bicester, Oxfordshire
  • RAF Newton, Nottinghamshire
  • Killinghome Power Station, Grimsby, Lincolnshire
  • RAF Hemswell, Gainsborough, Lincs

One of the three expected sites is Throckmorton airfield in Worcestershire, where more than 100,000 animal carcasses were buried at the height of the foot-and-mouth crisis.

The other two sites, which are due to open next year, are expected to be Ministry of Defence land near Bicester in Oxfordshire and RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire.

Residents would be free to come and go except at night, when they would be expected to be on site.

Some local people are anxious about plans to house large numbers of asylum seekers near them, particularly following the riot and fire which destroyed the 100m Yarl's Wood centre.

More than 3,000 villagers in Throckmorton have signed a petition objecting to a development in their area.

They claim property prices have already fallen after the land was used as a foot-and-mouth burial site.


Proposals to educate children inside the camps have drawn fierce criticism from refugee groups, who advocate small centres in cities, so children could go to local schools.

Keith Best, director of the Immigration Advisory Service, has already told one newspaper the centres would become "ghetto camps" where refugees were excluded from society.

He said: "This shows a contempt for asylum-seekers and that this government is not even prepared to view asylum-seekers as second-class citizens but as barely human."

Ann Widdecombe
"I'm only half pleased, providing the asylum centres are secure."
Steve Mitchell
"We are concerned, the area is isolated, and with no support network."
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See also:

03 Apr 02 | England
Insurers' 97m Yarl's Wood claim
01 Apr 02 | England
Yarl's Wood shut down
23 Feb 02 | England
Police resist 'riot' damages claim
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