Protestors lose ID card centre fight

PROTESTERS have failed to block the conversion of offices in Ipswich into an interview centre that they believe is central to the Government's plans to introduce identity cards.

By Danielle Nuttall

PROTESTERS have failed to block the conversion of offices in Ipswich into an interview centre that they believe is central to the Government's plans to introduce identity cards.

Ipswich Borough Council yesterday approved an application to turn offices at Crown House, next to the town's main swimming pool, into an interview and administration centre for new passports which are being introduced from next spring.

Officers and councillors agreed that while they may have reservations about the Government's identity card policy, there were no planning grounds to oppose the application by Mapeley Abi Provider who would own and manage the centre on behalf of the Home Office.


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Campaigners from the pressure group No2ID protested outside the borough's Grafton House offices in Russell Road before and during the meeting as Geoff Brace put the case against the centre.

He said the Government estimates that it would handle 16 people a day were a serious under-estimate. He thought the number would be nearer 50 to 70 a day - and could be as high as 300.

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This could cause traffic problems for people trying to reach the centre.

However, Labour councillor Sandy Martin said the building was ideally placed to handle visitors, being between the town's largest multi-storey car park and the main bus station.

Last night protestor Andrew Watson said he was disappointed with the decision but vowed to keep up the pressure on the Government to reconsider its view on ID cards.

“We understand we have a long fight on our hands here. People with objections to this scheme have been trying to communicate them for three years not but the Government is determined not to listen,” he said.

“What the Government wants to do is build a database and put a log of our personal information on it. It would immediately become a target for terrorists or identity thieves. If you want to disrupt British infrastructure then you target that database.

“This will be the largest computer project on the planet. They are going to spend vast sums of money building this. They're talking about £6billion - that would build 30 large hospitals the size of Addenbrooke's. What would you prefer to have?”

A spokesman for the Home Office said that from next spring all adults applying for their first passport would be interviewed to ensure they were not assuming someone else's identity.

He said: “These centres will not replace existing passport offices or the role of post offices in applying for passports.

“Adults who apply for their first passport will be invited to attend a centre for a short interview, taking about 10 minutes, to establish that they are who they claim they are.”

He said that if identity cards were introduced then the centres could also be used for interviews for those cards.

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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