Villagers fight plan to use mansion
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH(LONDON)
January 20, 2003
THE first inkling people in the Lincolnshire village of Caythorpe had that Caythorpe Court might become an asylum hostel, was just before Christmas when two “foreign-looking gentlemen” sought directions in the village post office. Outsiders stand out in this close-knit rural community and their presence led locals to investigate further . Terry Norman, a retired engineer, became suspicious when the Grade II listed mansion came up for sale. “The house was due for auction in November and there was a lot of local interest from farmers and builders who reckoned it would go for around pounds 2.2 million,” said Mr Norman, who has helped to organise an action group to fight the Government’s plans. “But it was withdrawn from sale the day before the auction. We dug around a bit and found out that the Angel Group had bought it, reportedly for pounds 1.5 million. Then we found out what the Angel Group does.” The news provoked outrage among the 1,400 residents of Caythorpe, which has a reputation as a haven for the retired. “The prospect of asylum-seekers in their midst is terrifying the old folk” said Mr Norman, 72, who retired to Caythorpe six years ago with his wife Janet, 70, after working all over the world. “The police and Government talk about the fight to preserve our lifestyle and quality of life. What on earth will this do to Caythorpe? We have a church, two pubs, a doctor’s surgery and some beautiful old houses. You could not get a more typical English country village. “We know what the asylum-seekers will do – Caythorpe Court is a mile out of the village. They will walk in here, and the people will be terrified of what they have in their midst.” Caythorpe Court was built in the late 19th century. During the Second World War, it was requisitioned by the military as a base for paratroop training. After the war, it was bought by Lincolnshire county council, and was later used as an agricultural college, but has been empty for more than a year. The village action group has already protested to the local Tory MP, Douglas Hogg, and plans to launch a petition at a meeting tonight.