Asylum centre plan for Ipswich

LOCAL authorities from across East Anglia could come together to open a new asylum induction centre in Ipswich.It would house up to 100 asylum seekers during their first few days in Britain before they are dispersed to hostels in towns and cities across the region.

LOCAL authorities from across East Anglia could come together to open a new asylum induction centre in Ipswich.

It would house up to 100 asylum seekers during their first few days in Britain before they are dispersed to hostels in towns and cities across the region.

But the official leading the search emphasised today that nowhere in the town had been identified for the new centre – and it is not certain it will be developed in Ipswich.

"The Home Office has asked local authorities across the country to look at setting up induction centres in their areas, and that is what we are doing in Ipswich," said Robin Renney – co-ordinator for the consortium of local authorities dealing with asylum seekers across the region.

"But it is very early days. Nowhere has been identified, and we don't even know if we will go down this road here.

"The first of these induction centres, in Leeds, has just opened and the second is due to be opened in Barnsley very soon.

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"We will evaluate how successful they've been before any decision is made," he said.

No decision is imminent and before any centre could be developed and opened, it would have to be approved by local councils.

"The centre would provide accommodation for about 100 asylum seekers at a time during their first days in this country," Mr Renney said.

"During that time they will have their initial interview with immigration authorities and be given an introduction to the country.

"They will also be assessed to decide whether they can go ahead and claim asylum – not whether they are granted asylum, just whether they have a case," he added.

Ipswich MP Chris Mole was pleased no final decision had been taken – and said a great deal of consultation would need to happen before there were any developments.

"We would not want the situation we had in Kent where the government announced it was taking over a hotel without consultation and there was an outcry among local people," he said.

"It would be necessary to talk to the local authorities and make sure they were given help to support people who came through the centre."

Accommodation for asylum seekers is a political hot potato.

Earlier this year a proposal to turn a former shop in Bramford Road into a hostel for asylum seekers was thrown out by planners after a furious reaction from local residents.

And there have been rumours about other buildings being converted into large hostels – but these have always been denied by their owners.

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