Priti Patel MP robustly opposes the Weathersfield Special Development Order

Priti Patel MP robustly opposes the Weathersfield Special Development Order

Published: 27th March 2024 - 2:41 pm Category: General News

Witham MP Priti Patel is opposing the Government’s plans to grant itself planning permission to continue to use the former RAF Wethersfield site for large-scale asylum accommodation for another three years. The Government have tabled a Special Development Order (SDO) statutory instrument, which is set to come into force on 11 April 2024, to replace the existing temporary Class Q permission, which will expire as can only be in place for one year. Priti has written to the Minister of State for Legal Migration and the Border to raise concerns about the plans and the timing of the SDO, which is set to come into effect during the Easter recess. The SDO process used by the Government bypasses local decision-making and would usually avoid the need for a Parliamentary vote to take place, however, Priti has called for the measure to be debated and voted on. The tabling of the SDO also follows the recent publication of a National Audit Office report slamming the lack of financial controls and costs of the site, and the Ministry of Justice announcing that they will continue to keep an interest in Wethersfield as a potential site for a prison in the future.

Priti, who has consistently raised concerns about use of Wethersfield, said: “The plans for Wethersfield are ill-thought through and wrong. Last year the then Home Secretary and Immigration Minister ignored local views and imposed the site on them. Since the site opened, we have seen the costs spiral out of control, asylum seekers cause damage to facilities and other problems. Instead of pursuing this site, the Home Office should have been investing in a network of detained sites and Greek-style reception centres included the New Plan for Immigration I produced, which would have been more effective at accommodating asylum seekers and processing their applications and removal from the country.”

“While the current Minister is taking a pragmatic approach to the issues he has inherited at Wethersfield, local views continue to be ignored and I will be pressing for a debate and vote in Parliament on this. Following the mess created by the Home Office, the Government must now work closely with the local community to ensure that the site has a sustainable future with a use that meets local needs and wishes. ”

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