Villagers told ‘there will be no asylum seekers
March 30, 2002, Saturday Edition 1
By The Journal
Protesting villagers in Northumberland say they have been told that their community will not play host to hundreds of asylum seekers. The Angel Group, which runs refugee centres elsewhere in the country, bought Otterburn Hall last week from the YMCA, and local people feared up to 500 asylum seekers could be housed there. The firm’s chief executive Julia Davey yesterday met Ian Mackie, a member of the Otterburn and District Action Group, who says she pledged to continue to use the building as a hotel, conference and training centre. Mr Mackie said: “She said the hall would be retained as a hotel, conference and training centre, and they would be investing in the building and grounds. She also said it was the Angel Group’s intention to work with the community ‘so both parties prospered’.” Mr Mackie said Ms Davey had admitted the group had considered the possibility of using the hall as an accommodation centre for asylum seekers but realised it was not a practical idea. Action Group chairman Bryce Watson, said: “I want to see what happens at the end of 12 months. I still fear we will end up with asylum seekers. ” Hexham MP Peter Atkinson said: “It’s good we are getting some clarity at long last, but it would help if the Angel Group would just come out and tell everybody positively what is planned, to allay their fears.” No one from the Angel Group was available for comment last night.