Ministers urged not to appeal 'inhumane' Stafford asylum seekers plan

Ministers have been urged not to appeal a decision to scrap plans for a former university building to become a centre for asylum seekers.

The site on Weston Road had been earmarked for asylum seeker accommodation
The site on Weston Road had been earmarked for asylum seeker accommodation

Councillors have thrown out a controversial scheme that would see nearly 500 asylum seekers housed in a former halls of residence on Weston Road, Stafford.

Hundreds of people had opposed the scheme, with some saying they feared for the safety of their children should it go ahead.

Now concerns have been raised that the Home Office will appeal to the Planning Inspectorate in a bid to get the decision overturned.

Stafford MP Theo Clarke said she was seeking an urgent meeting with Immigration Minister Kevin Foster to call on him to "heed the decision" of the committee.

She said she was "pleased and grateful" that Stafford Borough Council's planning committee had turned down the application.

"This is not about being against asylum seekers coming to our area, in fact, I am proud of the part our communities have played in welcoming vulnerable people to our country," Ms Clarke said.

"However, this is about the wrong location, both for local residents and services and for the asylum seekers themselves.

"I am now seeking an urgent meeting with the Immigration Minister to again make clear to him my opposition and ask him to heed the decision of the committee, not to appeal this planning decision and look elsewhere for this facility."

The scheme – which would have included rooms for hundreds of single males – was submitted by Serco, which runs asylum seeker accommodation for the Home Office.

It drew 300 objections, with concerns raised over crime, children's safety and the strain on local services.

The application was recommended for approval by council planning officers, but was voted down at a meeting on Wednesday, July 27 after seven of ten councillors on the planning committee opposed it.

One of them, Councillor Jill Hood, said housing asylum seekers at the site would be "inhumane".

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