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Move to set up refuge for failed asylum seekers runs into controversy

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Meeting to discuss proposal on May 24 at Church Lane, Kirkheaton


4th May 2011:
The move to set up a refuge for failed asylum seekers in semi-rural Huddersfield village has raised the dust of controversy.

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To be set up jointly by asylum charity Assure (Asylum Seekers’ Support and Response) and Kirkheaton Parish Church, the refuge was to house up to10 homeless refugees for 12 hours starting between 8pm for five nights a week in a church’s old school building.

The development is significant as failed asylum seekers are more often than not left to take care of themselves without state support.

But the proposal to use the church’s forsaken buildings a night centre has generated resentment among some residents. They have, in fact, decided to protest against the move.

A public meeting to discuss the proposal is now scheduled to be held at 7pm on May 24 at the Old School on Church Lane, Kirkheaton.

Kirkheaton Parish Church Vicar, the Rev Richard Steel, says the Church Lane premises is required to put a stop the practise of people sleeping rough.

He says the rough sleepers have neither benefits, nor shelter. They are completely destitute, unless they have some contacts in the community

He adds Assure came to them to ask if they could help out as they have moved all the groups out of that building.

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Rev Richard Steel asserts they are expecting just a couple to start with, as the building is not suitable for a large amount of use.

They have already judged the initial response to the move with representatives of the community and local councilors. To top it up, they have taken the advice of the police and are still in the process of consulting others.

He says any residents will be picked up from Huddersfield and taken back in the morning.

Assure secretary Tony Bowers says Assure is following in the footsteps of organisations in other major urban areas in joining with local churches.

Although their service will be very limited, they intend to do all they can to ensure the destitute asylum seekers do not have to sleep rough.

But those putting up in the vicinity insist the plan is inapt for the area. They are insisting the entire  village should be consulted.

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