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Petition — Accommodation Centre (Bicester)

– in the House of Commons at 7:21 pm on 10th March 2005.

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Photo of Tony Baldry Tony Baldry Chair, International Development Committee, Chair, International Development Committee 7:21 pm, 10th March 2005

It gives me pleasure to present a petition relating to the Bicester accommodation centre for asylum seekers. It is signed by the leader and deputy leader of Bicester town council and the chairmen of Arncott, Blackthorn and Piddington parish councils, who are all affected by the proposal.

The petition states:

Bicester accommodation centre for asylum seekers

To the House of Commons

That the Deputy Prime Minister calls a full independent Planning enquiry after the decision by Cherwell District Council to refuse detailed planning permission for an accommodation centre for asylum seekers at Bicester;

That Home Office Ministers have stated at the Dispatch Box of the House of Commons during the passage of the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum Act 2002 that "the government have made it clear that we will abide by the planning process, and by the outcome of any public enquiry . . . that is both fair and democratic";

That councillors unanimously and comprehensively rejected the Home Office application on the advice of officers concerns over the inappropriate design of buildings; concerns over light pollution; concerns over road safety; and concerns over the effectiveness of library and education facilities;

That the councillors objections echo the widespread concerns of every welfare organisation from the Red Cross to the Refugee Council and an independent Planning Inspector's report last year;

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Deputy Prime Minister to honour the government's clear commitment to the full planning process by calling a Planning Enquiry to take evidence from concerned organisations in the UK and others who operate accommodation centres for asylum seekers in other European member states and not bulldoze through the detailed planning application against the decision of democratically elected councillors.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.

To lie upon the Table.

Photo of Richard Younger-Ross Richard Younger-Ross Shadow Minister, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister Local Government & the Regions 7:23 pm, 10th March 2005

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Further to your earlier statement praising the staff for their hard work last night, in particular the Refreshment Department staff who went without sleep for 24 hours, they and the House might be interested to learn that the records in the Library show that this is the third longest sitting of the House since 1877.