Residents warn of asylum refuge plans
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.