Coltishall decision 'still weeks away'

A final decision on whether an immigration detention centre will be built at RAF Coltishall is still several weeks away, it was confirmed today.

A final decision on whether an immigration detention centre will be built at RAF Coltishall is still several weeks away, it was confirmed today.

Two Norfolk MPs met separately with senior government officials this morning to try and work through some of the confusion which has surrounded the future of the airbase in recent weeks.

North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb held a formal meeting with prisons minister Gerry Sutcliffe and a senior official from the Immigration and Nationality Directorate at 10am, while Mid Norfolk MP Keith Simpson met with Mr Sutcliffe over breakfast in Westminster.

Both said the meetings had helped clarify the muddled situation.

The final decision looks set to be made by April or May, while an optimistic deadline may be March 23, when the Coltishall taskforce next meets at Norfolk County Council's headquarters in Norwich.

Confusion over the status of Home Office proposals to build a detention centre for 500 immigrants on the former airbase has been fuelled by misleading statements from John Reid's department in the last few days.

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Both MPs said they were pleased that one of their main concerns - the potential “mothballing” of the site - had been addressed and certain pledges made about sticking to relatively tight timetables.

But they also said it was now key to keep the pressure on the Home Office to stick to those timetables.