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Saturday, 31 August, 2002, 04:57 GMT 05:57 UK
Protest against asylum centre
Protest in Throckmorton in May 2002
The plans have stirred opposition in Throckmorton
More than 2,000 people are expected at a protest against plans for an accommodation centre for asylum seekers at a former airbase.

The mass march and rally in Pershore, Worcestershire, on Saturday is the largest in a series of demonstrations in the area.

The action is in response to proposals to house up to 750 asylum seekers at an RAF base in nearby Throckmorton.

Government officials are considering whether to apply for permission to construct the centre.

Map of planned asylum seeker centres
Three large centres are planned by the government
Liberal Democrat county councillor Liz Tucker, who is leading the rally, said: "If the application goes in there is no doubt that local opposition will see the council reject it.

"If the government appeals, we'll see them off at a public inquiry."

Pact (Protest at the Asylum Centre at Throckmorton) bills itself as a non-political and non-racist campaign group.

Residents claim the airfield site is unsuitable for the facility because it is next to the largest landfill site in Worcestershire and a foot-and-mouth burial pit containing 130,000 carcasses.

Immigration minister Beverley Hughes
Ministers are disappointed at the reaction
The Home Office announced plans in May to house asylum seekers at centres at Throckmorton, Bicester, Oxfordshire, and Bingham, Nottinghamshire.

The councils in Bicester and Bingham have rejected the plans and are being challenged by the Home Office.

Immigration minister Beverly Hughes has said there was misunderstanding among local people about the impact of the refugees.

She said the majority of asylum seekers will still be dispersed in urban areas.

But in these cases where accommodation centres are used, key services will be provided on site, she added.

The Commission for Racial Equality and the British Red Cross have attacked the concept of centres because they claim they hinder integration and increase tensions.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Jake Lynch reports from Pershore
"This promises to be a pretty lengthy and painful protest"

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02 Aug 02 | England
15 Jul 02 | UK
14 May 02 | Breakfast
16 May 02 | Politics
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