Fears over asylum centre
ANXIOUS residents in a small Essex village have voiced their fears over a possible influx of asylum seekers in the area.Homeowners in Takeley, near Stansted Airport, which was mentioned in the1086 Domesday Book, say the possible siting of a nearby immigration removal centre would be one of the most significant events in their 1,000-year history.
ANXIOUS residents in a small Essex village have voiced their fears over a possible influx of asylum seekers in the area.
Homeowners in Takeley, near Stansted Airport, which was mentioned in the1086 Domesday Book, say the possible siting of a nearby immigration removal centre would be one of the most significant events in their 1,000-year history.
Their fears come after a meeting between Uttlesford District Council and Home Office officials at which the Government sought more details about the Thremall Priory site in historic Takeley.
The unoccupied listed building is one of three sites earmarked by the Government for a "removals centre for asylum seekers" near Stansted Airport.
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The old terminal building at the airport and Smith's Farm – also unoccupied - at Great Dunmow are also possibilities to house in secure accommodation up to 300 people.
But Takeley residents have expressed "great concern" that their village could be the front-runner in a race none of them wants.
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Chairman of Takeley Parish Council Trevor Allen, yesterday called on the Home Office to "come clean" about its plans.
He said: "This is the wrong place for an asylum seekers. The centre will be like a prison.
"We always seem to be fighting against something here – first it was the airport, now it's this.
"We've had enough of this 'dump it here attitude' - why can't the Government just tell us what's happening?"
Speaking after Government figures showed asylum applications dropping by nearly a third in the first quarter of this year compared to the end of last year, leader of Uttlesford District Council Alan Dean said if a centre had to be built in the area, he would prefer to be within the airport boundary.
He said: "Had the airport not been there, we would not be facing this problem. If they build it outside the perimeter, it will be against our policy of ensuring the airport remains an airport in the countryside.
"We also have concern for the people who will be housed in the centre if it's built in Takeley. They'll be dangerously close to the new A120 and right under the flight path.
"This is not a case of being NIMBY (not in my back yard) – we just want what's best for everyone," he added.
A Home Office spokesman reaffirmed the Government's commitment to an immigration removal centre in the Stansted area, but denied it favoured any of the three potential sites above the others.
He was also unable to give a timeframe for any Government decision on the matter.