Asylum centre plans to be dropped

PROPOSALS to develop an induction centre for asylum seekers in Ipswich are expected to be dropped next week, The Evening Star can reveal today.Ipswich council is set to tell the Home Office that the town would be unable to support a new induction centre, which could handle up to 2,600 asylum seekers a year.

PROPOSALS to develop an induction centre for asylum seekers in Ipswich are expected to be dropped next week, The Evening Star can reveal today.

Ipswich council is set to tell the Home Office that the town would be unable to support a new induction centre, which could handle up to 2,600 asylum seekers a year.

However it is set to re-affirm its determination to help find accommodation for asylum seekers under the government's dispersal programme.

This sees asylum seekers sent out across the country once they have first arrived in Britain - there are three dispersal centres in East Anglia: Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough.

The Home Office has decided that each of these dispersal centres should find accommodation for a set number of asylum seekers dependent on the size of the town or city. Ipswich's quota is 580 asylum seekers.

At present there is space for just over 200 asylum seekers in the town, and a private company funded by the Home Office is looking to develop more spaces.

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However the number of people entering the UK and seeking asylum is reducing significantly.

An induction centre for Ipswich would have 100 beds and would be expected to turn around asylum seekers in two weeks - allowing it to process a total of 2,600 a year.

At the end of that period, many would be dispersed to other parts of the country - but borough council officers fear many will want to stay in the area and that could put an intolerable strain on local services.

And they fear the Home Office will not be able provide enough financial help to help pay for extra services the centre will need - like extra policing, social services staff, and housing costs.

A spokeswoman for the Refugee Council - which looks after the rights of asylum seekers - was surprised to hear about the borough's opposition to the proposed induction centre.

"Anyone going through the centre would be dispersed to other parts of the country," she said.

But the borough's deputy leader David Ellesmere said the council had been given no assurances about that by Home Office agencies.

"We were told the asylum seekers would be dispersed after their time in the induction centre, but they were unable to give any assurance they would not be dispersed in this area," he said.

"We support the principle of induction centres - but if one was to be opened in Ipswich the town should no longer be a dispersal centre. It can be one or the other, but not both."

Mr Ellesmere felt that the reduction in numbers of asylum seekers entering the UK would reduce the pressure for new induction centres.

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