No Borders London and Brighton have begun campaigning against the Home Office’s proposed ‘pre-departure accommodation’ centre for families and children in Pease Pottage, Sussex.
The campaign is calling on ‘anyone concerned with the ongoing detention of children’ to contact the Mid Sussex District Central Area Planning Committee and/or all fifty-four Mid Sussex district councillors to express their concerns about the plans (a draft is available below). Campaigners maintain that the proposed ‘accommodation’ is in fact a detention centre and directly contradicts the Liberal Democrats’ promise to end the detention of children for immigration purposes.
No Borders commented: ‘The Home Office are taking every precaution to see that this proposed facility is sped through the planning process with the minimum fuss and opposition’ including a possible ‘breach of EU Procurement Directives’ as the Home Office has not supplied ‘pre-qualification questionnaires’ or ‘tendering documents’.
The Mid Sussex Council planning meeting set to decide on the ‘accommodation’ proposal is on 17 March 2011 and concerns about the plans should be expressed as quickly as possible.
The campaign is timely, as of 1 March 2011 the Home Office has implemented a ‘radical new process for managing the return of families’. The new four-stage process includes:
- the creation of a specialist family case owner within the UK Border Agency;
- assisted return;
- required returns for families who fail to take up assistance packages;
- ensured return as last resort for families who refuse to depart the UK.
All of this will be decided upon by a new Independent Family Returns Panel that will ‘provide expert advice … on the best method of ensuring the return of individual families’. The new process is supposed to ensure a ‘more humane removal process … which puts the welfare of children at centre stage’.
As the Home Office attempts to speed through the development of the new ‘accommodation centre’ and implement their ‘radical new process’ for the deportation of families campaigners are preparing for a fight.
No Borders will be holding a demonstration on Thursday 24 March 2011 as Mid Sussex Council decides on the UKBA planning application for the centre.
Read the No Borders press statement: ‘Contact Mid Sussex Council – say no to detention!’
Read the Home Office press release: ‘New family returns process begins’
Download a copy of a draft letter to Mid Sussex District Council/councillors here (pdf file, 16kb)
Read an IRR News story: ‘Detention by another name’