Min­is­ter asked about asy­lum seeker cen­tres

Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News - - Front Page - BY JOHN MCDOUGALL john.mcdougall@trin­i­tymir­ror.com @JMacD1988

HAL­TON’S MP has sought de­tails over what plans there are to open asy­lum seeker hos­tels within the next six months as a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for a fa­cil­ity in Widnes is due to be de­cided next year.

Derek Twigg has re­ceived writ­ten an­swers from the Home Of­fice.

Mr Twigg ad­dressed ques­tions ini­tally to Home Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd ask­ing her which lo­cal author­ity ar­eas and par­lia­men­tary con­stituen­cies are due to have hos­tels for asy­lum seek­ers open­ing within the first half of 2017.

A re­sponse re­ceived from Im­mi­gra­tion Min­ster Robert Good­will said that there are seven ‘ per­ma­nent ini­tial ac­com­mo­da­tion’ cen­tres cur­rently in the UK in­clud­ing in Liver­pool, Cardiff, Birm­ing­ham, Lon­don, Wake­field and Glas­gow.

Mr Good­will said: ● “How­ever, we can­not com­ment on the in­di­vid­ual lo­ca­tions of the cen­tres for the safety of the asy­lum seek­ers housed there.”

A plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion was lodged with Hal­ton Bor­ough Coun­cil in Au­gust con­cern­ing the for­mer Li­ly­cross Care Cen­tre on Wilmere Lane.

The fa­cil­ity was blasted as ‘in­ad­e­quate’ by health sector watch­dog the Care Qual­ity Com­mis­sion in 2015 be­fore clos­ing and of­fered ac­co­mo­da­tion for 60 peo­ple.

The plans en­vis­age con­vert­ing the ex-care home into a hos­tel of­fer­ing tem­po­rary ac­co­mo­da­tion for up to 120 asy­lum seek­ers.

It would be run by Serco on be­half of the Home Of­fice.

Thou­sands have signed an on­line pe­ti­tion on Change.org call­ing for the pro­pos­als to be re­jected.

Mr Good­will added in his re­sponse to the Hal­ton MP that providers of Com­mer­cial And Oper­a­tional Man­agers Procur­ing Asy­lum Sup­port Ser­vices (COM­PASS) are ‘cur­rently ex­plor­ing’ the fea­si­bil­ity of ad­di­tional ini­tial ac­com­mo­da­tion cen­tres to tem­po­rar­ily ac­com­mo­date asy­lum seek­ers.

The process is be­ing un­der­taken with sup­port from UK Visas And Im­mi­gra­tion.

Mr Good­will added: “How­ever, no new sites have been con­firmed and any that are pro­posed will be sub­ject to con­sul­ta­tion with the rel­e­vant lo­cal author­ity.” ●

Health Sec­re­tary Jeremy Hunt

Above, Derek Twigg and Robert Good­will and be­low, Li­ly­cross Care Cen­tre

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