Asylum centre plan to be snubbed

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a new induction centre housing thousands of asylum seekers every year look set to be snubbed by a Suffolk town.The Home Office has identified Ipswich as an area that could establish a new induction centre offering accommodation for 2,600 asylum seekers per year – but Town Hall chiefs are likely to reject the idea, it emerged last night .

By Danielle Nuttall

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a new induction centre housing thousands of asylum seekers every year look set to be snubbed by a Suffolk town.

The Home Office has identified Ipswich as an area that could establish a new induction centre offering accommodation for 2,600 asylum seekers per year – but Town Hall chiefs are likely to reject the idea, it emerged last night .

A report to Ipswich Borough Council's executive committee warns the proposals could increase pressure on housing in Ipswich if asylum seekers are given refugee status and decide to stay in the town.

It also claims there would be added pressure on schools and social care, and the potential for increased racial tension. It calls for other authorities in the region who are currently making no effort to assist asylum seekers to be approached by the Home Office instead.

Last night, the Home Office said it would take local views into account before deciding where to site such a centre.

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Ipswich has previously been designated as a cluster area to receive asylum seekers and presently offers about 580 places.

The Government is aiming to set up a national network of induction centres of about 100 bed spaces to speed up the asylum seeker process.

Ipswich is one of the preferred sites in the eastern region, however they are also considering Bedford and Peterborough for the centre, which would house adult refugees from countries such as Iraq, Iran, Zimbabwe and Somalia arriving at the ports of Felixstowe and Harwich.

The report states Ipswich is willing to play its part in meeting the needs of asylum seekers – but added it was not "reasonable" for the town to create induction facilities on top of the current provision it provides.

"This will lead to pressure to increase existing dispersal provision in Ipswich and for those given refugee status it is likely that they will wish to stay within the area adding to local housing pressures," the report said.

"There are currently significant pressures on the local housing market and the council is experiencing difficulties in meeting its statutory homelessness obligations and to ending the use of B & B accommodation for homeless families due to a lack of accommodation.

"It has been made clear to NASS officials that Ipswich is very willing to play its part in helping to meet the housing and support needs of asylum seekers and is currently doing so through the dispersal process.

"However, all communities have a part to play and given local pressures it is not considered reasonable for Ipswich to, in addition, accommodate induction centre facilities within the town," it added.

The report recommends that the council does not make a proposal to provide an induction centre in the town.

Last night, borough council leader Peter Gardiner said: "With the pressures we are under at the moment and the fact that we weren't getting any reassurance on aspects in the report we decided on balance we would not put Ipswich forward for an induction centre.

"While we wouldn't actively to seek to have one here it is possible if there is a shortage then they may come in and say Ipswich is best placed to have one anyway.

"We do not think we are in a position to put forward a sensible proposal. The police believe they would need additional resources as well and there are no guarantees of any funding for this.

"We will continue to play our part in the asylum seeker process as a local authority as we do at the moment."

Last nighta spokesman for the Home Office said: "Ipswich is one of the areas we are looking at about the possibility of siting an induction centre there.

"When consultation with the public and with the local agencies is undertaken, we always conduct assessments on the likely impact on each local community.

"If a report has been published which suggests the local facilities and local opinion is against the siting of an induction centre of course we will take that on board when conducting an assessment into the suitability of any location."

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