Express & Star

Home Secretary told to 'step in' and block Stafford migrants plan

The Home Secretary has been urged to "step in" and block plans to house hundreds of male migrants at a former student halls in Stafford.

Across Staffordshire and the Black Country more than 1,000 migrants are currently being put up in hotels.

Theo Clarke MP said Beaconside was a "wholly inappropriate" site to use as temporary accommodation for 500 asylum seekers.

The Stafford MP expressed her concerns in a meeting with Suella Braverman, where she urged the Home Secretary to intervene on the issue.

Plans to house migrants at the site were thrown out by council chiefs last year following mass opposition from local residents.

But Serco, which runs the asylum seeker accommodation scheme has on behalf of the Home Office, has appealed the decision.

Mrs Clarke said: "I met with the Home Secretary to express my concerns, the concerns of the council and most importantly local residents’ concerns this site is wholly inappropriate.

"I told her Beaconside is right next to a primary and secondary school, the health faculty of Staffordshire University’s Stafford campus and opposite Staffordshire Police HQ and a large housing estate.

"There is a lack of facilities and services and really anything for anyone to do and the numbers envisaged are totally out of proportion for a small market town like ours."

The meeting came after Mrs Clarke raised the issue with Rishi Sunak in the Commons, asking the PM to urgently "reconsider" the proposals.

Last summer Stafford Borough Council's planning committee refused to grant permission for Serco to use the site. Councillors cited concerns around the sheer volume of people being housed in such a concentrated area, a shortage of support services and the additional pressure on already stretched services including health and education.

A planning inquiry is set to be held in May to determine whether the scheme can go ahead.

It comes after Mr Sunak announced plans for new laws aimed at stopping illegal immigration, including a move aimed at blocking people from entering the country on small boats from claiming asylum.

More than 45,000 migrants came in on small boats last year, prompting a scramble to find suitable temporary accommodation.

Across Staffordshire and the Black Country more than 1,000 migrants are currently being put up in hotels.

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