‘Emergency powers’ threat to allow hostel
THE JOURNAL (Newcastle, UK)
March 28, 2002,
People living in a remote Northumberland village are furious that Home Secretary David Blunkett could use emergency powers to allow an asylum seekers’ hostel to be set up on their doorstep. Otterburn residents learnt on Monday the Otterburn Hall hotel has been sold by owners the YMCA to The Angel Group, which already runs refugee centres all over the country. The residents say there are not enough facilties in their village to cope with a large influx of people. Yesterday Mr Blunkett spoke of his willingness to use emergency powers to speed up planning permissions for new centres. Although Otterburn Hall has not been named by the Home Office as one of its eight potential sites for such centres, residents are still worried after hearing from fellow campaigners in a Shropshire village. The Angel Group has bought a large property at High Ercall, Shropshire, and has told the local council of its plans to house 750 asylum seekers there. Bryce Watson, spokesman for the protesters, said villagers were appalled by the Government’s apparent willingness to speed through the planning process. A Home Office spokeswoman said the Government would still be obliged to consult on its plans for asylum seeker centres. Nobody from the Angel Group was available to comment yesterday.