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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 08:47 GMT
Refugees arrive from Sangatte
Immigrants leave Sangatte for Britain
The first group left France at the beginning of December
A group of about 120 immigrants from the Sangatte refugee camp in northern France have spent their first night in temporary accommodation in Luton.

The leader of the council, Bill McKenzie, welcomed them, saying they had skills to offer the UK.

However, the council said it was "surprised and dismayed" that it had not been consulted by the Home Office about the decision to place the immigrants in local hotels.

And in Northamptonshire, an application by a Daventry hotel to house almost 300 people from the camp has also raised concerns.

Work permits

The immigrants - Iraqis and Afghans - are some of 1,200 due in the UK under a deal to close the camp at the end of the month.

They have been granted visas and work permits for up to four years to allow them to find legal employment.

They will be given temporary accommodation for their first three months in the UK, the costs of which will be met by central government rather than local authorities.

An application by the Landmark Hotel on the outskirts of Daventry to house some of the immigrants has not been officially rejected, although the Home Office says it is unlikely to succeed.

Chris Millar, the leader of Daventry District Council, said the hotel had been considered because the Home Office was "desperate".

"The problem is that the numbers arriving in Sangatte are exceeding the amount of suitable accommodation in the UK," he said.

But in Luton, Mr McKenzie said: "They are people who are seeking work, who have a range of skills that we need in the UK, who have an opportunity to get employment and who have an opportunity therefore to contribute to the economy."


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29 Nov 02 | Politics
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