Pe­ti­tion to halt asy­lum hos­tels

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

APETITION calling for large build­ings not to be used for ‘ super’ asy­lum seeker hos­tels in­clud­ing one due to op­er­ate in Widnes has been sent to the Home Sec­re­tary.

More than 1,500 peo­ple signed the on­line doc­u­ment on change. org which cites the con­ver­sion of Li­ly­cross Care Cen­tre on Wilmere Lane.

The green light to change the for­mer care home – which was closed down in 2015 af­ter be­ing branded ‘in­ad­e­quate’ by the Care Qual­ity Com­mis­sion – into a hos­tel of­fer­ing tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion for a max­i­mum of 28 days for up to 120 asy­lum seek­ers was given in Jan­uary by Hal­ton Bor­ough Coun­cil’s de­vel­op­ment con­trol com­mit­tee.

It pre­vi­ously of­fered care for up to 60 peo­ple and the new hos­tel will be run by Serco on be­half of the Home Of­fice.

The pe­ti­tion asks why ‘many hun­dreds of thou­sands of pounds of tax­pay­ers money’ could be ‘wasted’ on con­vert­ing Li­ly­cross af­ter claim­ing both the Home Af­fairs Se­lect Com­mit­tee and the Refugee Coun­cil have ad­vised against forced room shar­ing.

It adds ‘large scale’ hos­tels are to be phased out within six ● months.

The pe­ti­tion also claims that Serco and the Home Of­fice in­tend to use Li­ly­cross for 10 years and a min­i­mum of 20,000 asy­lum seek­ers could pass through the location over the decade.

It said: “We feel that we can­not con­done such large asy­lum seeker hos­tels in the UK and that the Govern­ment should lis­ten to the ad­vice of the ex­perts, so please sign and share this peti- tion if you think these super asy­lum seeker hos­tels should be scrapped.”

It has now been sent to Am­ber Rudd.

Karen Forde be­gan a cam­paign on Face­book op­pos­ing the con­ver­sion when the plans to con­vert Li­ly­cross were an­nounced and also started this pe­ti­tion.

She said: “We’re des­per­ate for care homes in this bor­ough.

“There’s peo­ple des­per­ate for places to go in the bor­ough so we need ev­ery care home we can get.

“It’s only when you come to putting loved ones in a care home that you re­alise the real is­sues fac­ing this bor­ough.”

She added: “We tried to get them to lis­ten to save the care home so it can still be used as a care home go­ing for­ward, but they didn’t lis­ten.

“Just be­cause it was empty at the time didn’t make it any less of a care home.”

Li­ly­cross Care Cen­tre on Wilmere Lane, Widnes

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