Archive for December 2002
December 27, 2002
The support group responsible for housing of asylum seekers has been warned over plans to use a country manor as accommodation. North Hykeham and Sleaford MP Douglas Hogg has written demanding answers over the plans for Caythorpe Court near Sleaford. The house has been bought by the Angel Group plc which has been approached by the National Asylum Seekers’ Support Service seeking accommodation. Mr Hogg has warned the NASSS that any application for the housing of asylum seekers will be “vigorously opposed by the local community”. He recommended that the service find a “more appropriate” site. He is now waiting for a response to a list of questions he has sent to the NASSS. Among his inquiries are a request for details on the number of asylum seekers that would be based at Caythorpe Court, their origins and how long they would stay for. Mr Hogg’s letter follows a heated public meeting of more than 200 residents in which an action group was formed to fight the plans.
December 20, 2002
Residents have vowed to fight plans to convert a country estate into an asylum centre. At a public meeting in the village of Caythorpe, near Sleaford, the parish council told residents of plans to build a facility for around 300 asylum seekers. The Angel Group has proposed the development at Caythorpe Court, the former Lincolnshire School of Agriculture, which they bought last month. But the mood among the 250 villagers that attended the meeting was unanimous – they were overwhelming against the plans. Terry Norman (72), of South Parade, Caythorpe, is the self-appointed leader of the action group. He said: “I have already had half a dozen people committed to the cause and willing to volunteer their time. “We will seek to find out exact information and use this to work and react against the proposals. “We just hope we are not too late.” Mr Norman said the action group would meet for the first time in early January. He said: “We will try and target as much of the media as possible including the national press. “And the more people we can get involved and the more attention we get the harder it will be for developers to continue in their efforts.” In a letter to the Caythorpe Parish Council the Angel Group said it was still awaiting the results of a feasibility survey but their long term view for the 31-acre site is to establish a residential estate sold to owner occupiers. Parish Council chairman Andy Roberts said: “We had a meeting with the Angel Group on December 10 and expressed the concerns of the village on security, the local infrastructure and the effect it would have on property prices. “We asked what interaction the asylum population would have with the local people and what effect they would have on the Caythorpe way of life. “They assured us they would work closely with the parish council and the local police to minimise any problems and misunderstandings.” Colin Wotherspoon, district councillor and parish council chairman for Hemswell Cliff, in West Lindsey also attended the meeting. Mr Wotherspoon was part of an action group that fought successfully against plans to build a similar centre at an former RAF base in their village. He offered advice to the new action group. “It is in everyone’s interests that as many people in the village work together to fight the proposals,” he said. “Your arguments should be based around the accommodation centre and not racism or nimbyism (not in my back yard). Page 106 Villagers voice asylum concerns Lincolnshire Echo December 20, 2002 “To argue it would be unfair on human grounds to move these people here, not just for your community but for the asylum seekers themselves would be better.” The village of Caythorpe has a resident population of around 2000, with 500 houses, two pubs, a convenience store and a post office. The Venerable Brian Lucas from Caythorpe said: “We have to be clear that we clearly identify what we mean by asylum seekers. “Somebody who flees for his life is an asylum seeker but there are people who are economic migrants. “If they are genuine we should welcome them, but I am not sure we have adequate resources in the local community.” What do you think? e-mail email@example.com
December 16, 2002
It was once home to one of the country’s top farming schools and has a strong association with one of the Second World War’s fiercest battles. But today the people of Caythorpe, near Sleaford, are not discussing crops or the bravery of veterans. They are talking about plans which could see up to 300 asylum seekers housed at Caythorpe Court – the former Lincolnshire School of Agriculture – as early as next month. With only 500 houses, Caythorpe has always been a close-knit community with just two pubs, a convenience store and a post office. It was the base for the 1st Airborne Division which joined the huge air assault Operation Market Garden into Arnhem in Holland in September 1944 – an event still commemorated in the village every year. The focus of the asylum seeker residence plan – the former Lincolnshire School of Agriculture complex – was once home to a thriving educational facility where many farmers learned their trade. Village chip shop owner Richard Turner is worried about the plan. He said: “We are a very close village here. “Even the new housing developments we have here are done on a small scale. “I am not a racist but everyone just wants to protect the kind of quiet rural life we have.” Developers the Angel Group acquired Caythorpe Court last month with a view to converting the former school into flats. But as the Echo reported on Friday, the group has announced plans to use the 31-acre site as a temporary refuge for asylum seekers. Adam Miller (20), a cold store worker from the village, said: “Without a doubt we will see trouble in the village if the plans go ahead and I bet they won’t all stay up at the college. “Caythorpe is a great place to live. It’s got everything you want. Football teams, cricket teams, pubs and a really good social life.” The residents have organised a public meeting on Thursday to look at ways they can protest against the plans. Jenny Lowis (63), who lives in High Street, Caythorpe, said: “When we moved to Caythorpe 37 years ago, it was a lot smaller. “It is a really desirable place to live as it is nice and quiet with a good bus service. “We are very worried about a change in house prices if the plans go ahead.” The Angel Group is yet to issue final plans for the site as they are currently awaiting Home Office approval. A spokesman for the Angel Group said: “No decision or options for the future use of Caythorpe Court has been made. “Angel Group representatives recently met members of Caythorpe Parish Council to hear their concerns and discuss the options. “The Angel Group assured parish councillors that once the company was in a position to make a decision it would consult the public.” Barman Robert Binns (50), who is a member of the parish council, attended the private meeting on Tuesday. “It all appears very underhand and we weren’t even told about the sale,” he said. “It is a sleepy little rural community and always has been. I just don’t think the village could cope with it all.”
December 16, 2002
A COMMONS debate was taking place today over a controversial plan to house 200 asylum seekers opposite Wakefields maximum security prison. Wakefield MP David Hinchliffe wants to stop the Angel Group from placing 200 asylum seekers in the former prison service college on Love Lane. He has called the plans ludicrous and believes the company has secretly been given the go ahead from the Home Office despite bitter opposition from local people and Wakefield Council. Earlier this month a Home Office planning inspector overruled a decision by Wakefield Councils planning board, which refused planning permission last November. Before the appeal was heard, Angel Group spent £1.2m refurbishing the building as a dispersal centre for asylum seekers. Mr Hinchliffe and Wakefield Council leader Peter Box have serious concerns about asylum seekers living in the shadow of rapists and murderers. Assurance Mr Hinchliffe said he would quiz Beverly Hughes, the minister with responsibility for asylum issues, in the debate: I have been given clear assurances in the past that there was no intention to use this establishment without the agreement of the local authority. I think that behind the scenes within the Home Office there has certainly been indications from government departments which has encouraged them to go ahead with this project. He added: I expected the debate might have been after Christmas, but I[#39]m very pleased I have got it so soon because there are issues that need to be aired. What I want to know from the Home Office is exactly what is going on with this hostel? Wakefield Council deputy leader, Coun Phil Dobson, said: We we do not believe this building in this location is the right environment for housing asylum seekers in this district. A spokesman from the Angel Group declined to comment.
Yorkshire Evening Post
December 10, 2002 Yorkshire Post
Wakefield MP David Hinchliffe will use a Commons debate to force Home Office Ministers to come clean about controversial plans for asylum seekers to be given accommodation opposite Wakefield Prison. Even though the London-based Angel Group has now got planning permission to house the asylum seekers in a former Prison Service college in Love Lane, the Home Office has told Mr Hinchliffe that there are no current plans to use the site. But, as the Angel Group is reported to have spent [#163]1.2m refurbishing the premises as a dispersal centre, the Wakefield MP will today demand an answer once and for all over a proposal fiercely opposed by local councillors and condemned as a security nightmare by two retired prison officers. Mr Hinchliffe told the Yorkshire Post: I am bringing this to a head to find out who is telling the truth in this matter. The planning proposal was rejected by local councillors but overturned on appeal by the Angel Group. And Mr Hinchliffe reflected local fears by insisting that it was not a good idea to house asylum seekers so close to a prison containing sex offenders, rapists and murderers. It was also next to the Westgate pub and club area, added the MP. Mr Hinchliffe also voiced concerns that bringing asylum seekers to the area could prompt racist incidents. He said: I genuinely fear some racial difficulties. Despite the Home Office[#39]s denials, Mr Hinchliffe has previously suggested that the Angel Group has got a clear steer from somebody on the inside. Last month the Home Office signalled that use of the site had not been ruled out.