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VILLAGE WELCOME FOR ASYLUM AXE

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 Lincolnshire Echo

January 30, 2003

Plans to convert a former agricultural college into a centre for asylum seekers were today axed by the Home Office. Caythorpe Court, near Sleaford, was earmarked as an emergency asylum centre soon after it was bought by property developer the Angel Group. But the proposal met with fierce opposition from residents of the village and their MP Douglas Hogg. “This is very good news,” said Mr Hogg. “Caythorpe Court is clearly wholly unsuitable for such a purpose and it was resolutely opposed by my constituents. “The suggestion should never have been made and I welcome the fact that the Home Office has backed down.” Earlier this week, Mr Hogg had accused the Home Office of arrogance over the issue, after ministers refused to meet him to discuss the plans.  But in a letter to the Sleaford and North Hykeham MP, Home Office minister Beverley Hughes said that Caythorpe did not meet Government requirements for an emergency asylum centre. Ms Hughes told Mr Hogg: “I explained that the National Asylum Support Service was considering using the property for a short period as emergency accommodation for asylum seekers. “We need to be able to obtain accommodation for this purpose quickly. “I made it clear that if a decision were made to use the property, we would expect the Angel Group to obtain planning permission. “This would clearly take some time to achieve and because we need this accommodation quickly, we have decided not to use Caythorpe Court.” Despite these assurances, Ms Hughes did not rule out use of the Victorian estate as an induction centre for asylum seekers in the future. Terry Norman, a spokesman for the Caythorpe Action Group, which has fought the proposals on behalf on the village community, gave today’s news a guarded welcome. He said: “Obviously, we are very happy with the decision but we still want to know what the Angel Group plan to do with the property and we intend to find out. “There are other uses that would be just as bad from a village point of view. “The Caythorpe Action Group will still be going ahead with a meeting tomorrow night to decide what questions we should ask next. We have worked very hard and we will not give up now.” Mr Hogg echoed residents’ concerns, saying that the Home Office had made no guarantee Caythorpe Court would not be used to house asylum seekers in the future. He said: “It would seem as if the Government has not entirely abandoned its thoughts of using Caythorpe as part of a national network of induction centres for asylum seekers. “This decision is welcome in so far as it goes. But local people and I will now make it wholly plain to the Home Office, the Angel Group and the local authorities that there will be resolute opposition to any plan to use Caythorpe Court for the purposes of accommodating asylum seekers or other refugees. “An induction centre would be even less acceptable.”

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Written by Concerned

January 30, 2003 at 11:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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