Accommodation centre plan in chaos

    The government’s plans to set up a series of asylum accommodation
    centres were plunged further into disarray last week after the
    deputy prime minister John Prescott refused to give a centre his
    approval.

    Prescott refused to agree to RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire being
    converted into an accommodation centre for asylum seekers waiting
    for their applications to be processed.

    The government announced its intention to set up a network of at
    least four accommodation centres in October 2001, but so far six
    out of seven sites considered by ministers have either been dropped
    or refused planning permission.

    The newest site to be identified, the Navy base at HMS Daedalus in
    Gosport, Hampshire, was abandoned in February. Throckmorton
    Airfield in Worcestershire has also been dropped.

    Court of Appeal judges have reserved judgment over whether a
    defence storage and distribution centre at Bicester in Oxfordshire
    will become an accommodation centre. Cherwell District Council
    appealed against a High Court ruling that backed the original
    planning approval.

    In February 2003, the Home Office announced that plans for sites at
    RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire, Sully Hospital in Glamorgan, and
    Airwest in Edinburgh had all been dismissed.

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