Immigration officials to start work in village where asylum seekers arrived
- Credit: Archant
Volunteers, NHS workers and immigration officials will be arriving in a village next week where almost 100 asylum seekers were placed without warning.
The Home Office is using the old Officers’ Mess in Badersfield to house asylum seekers during the coronavirus crisis.
But neighbours, police and local councils all say they were given little or no notice by the Home Office about the move.
The new arrivals led to 30 complaints to Broadland Council, a handful of calls to police, as well as donations and gifts.
Residents have now been told in an update from police that from early next week volunteers will be recruited to patrol the estate. Extra police patrols are already in place.
It comes after one man was arrested, cautioned and moved to another immigration centre for licking a woman’s hand.
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From next Tuesday NHS staff will also be working from the site, now known as the Jaguar Buildings, residents were told in the update.
Immigration officials will also arrive next week to start processing people’s asylum claims.
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Parish councillor Nigel Fielding, who has been raising some of the complaints, said: “I certainly feel more positive about the situation now.
“A lot has been achieved in the last week.”
Abdus Saleh, from Cromwood Group which manages the Jaguar Buildings, said: “We very much appreciate the support and understanding that the local community is giving during these challenging times.”
Separately, Broadland Council contracted the same building to house up to 20 homeless people, but it says it was not told by Cromwood that the Home Office was also using the site.
Cromwood claimed it told the council in a phone call with a senior manager on March 30.
Broadland Council denied any conversation took place and said it was only told the day before, in mid-April, about the asylum seekers’ arrival.
The Home Office also said it had a “consultation” with Norfolk County Council in “recent weeks”. However a letter sent to all councils by the Home Office, casts doubt on that claim.
The letter, sent at the end of March, does not mention using Badersfield as an immigration centre and is instead a generic one about the need to house asylum seekers during coronavirus.
A county council spokesperson said: “When the team responsible for the welfare of any potential asylum seekers at the site were informed of its intended use, they started putting in place the best support structure to ensure people’s welfare was prioritised.”
•A 24-hour phone line and email address is also being set up for residents. The email address is Badersfield@cromwood.co.uk