Council SAVAGED for allowing care home to be transformed into huge asylum seekers’ hostel
FURIOUS campaigners today blasted a council for allowing a greenbelt care home to be transformed into a huge asylum seekers’ hostel.
150 furious locals raged as the council ignored the 4,000-strong petition
In 2015, the Lilycross Care Centre in Widnes, Cheshire, was emptied after health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) branded it “inadequate”.
But despite thousands petitioning against the plans, Halton Borough Council has now given the green light for it to become an hostel for 120 asylum seekers.
On Monday night 150 furious locals raged as a council planning meeting ignored a 4,000-strong petition, including a Labour MP as a signatory, and approved the hostel.
Today UKIP leader Paul Nuttall told the Daily Express he supports campaigners’ pledges to now take the matter to a judicial review.
Mr Nuttall said: “This decision flies in the face of democracy.
“This centre will negatively impact on the lives of local people and they have voiced their strong objections – and plainly not been listened to.”
Last week North-West MEP Mr Nuttall urged the Labour-run council to take into account comments by Jeremy Corbyn over the urgent need for more care homes.
Mr Nuttall added: “It is ironic at a time when there is a desperate need for more care home places, a change of use from care home to asylum centre is waved through.
“I intend to continue my support for the local residents in their justified opposition.
“The Labour leader is suggesting that failed care homes should be taken into public ownership, such is the dire state of social care in this country.
“Yet the Labour-run council seem hell-bent on this scheme.
“It flies in the face of any sort of common sense and in direct opposition to the wishes of local people.”
Campaign group leader Derek Williams raged after the planning meeting: “This has been an absolute travesty of justice.
“They have completely disregarded the local consensus. This council has railroaded this application - it’s not right.”
A clinician-led consortium is ready and waiting in the wings to return the 60-bedroom premises into a care home again for local elderly Cheshire residents.
They even agreed to take dozens elderly patients from the nearby Whiston Hospital, in Merseyside, currently blocking beds with nowhere to go.
Two petitions containing 2,706 and 897 signatures in online and paper versions have opposed the asylum plans – while 774 people have individually objected.
The petitions even include objections from local Labour Cllr Andrew McManus and even Labour’s Halton MP Derek Twigg.
Cllr McManus’s feared an asylum hostel could create “negative perceptions” in the minds of visitors to the leafy area and that businesses could be affected.
While Mr Twigg said he feared the building and distance to amenities would make the siting of the hostel there “questionable”.
Liverpool Echo The council is allowing a greenbelt care home to be transformed into a huge asylum seekers’ hostel
The Labour MP added: “We cannot have people packed into this building, that would be unacceptable and no way to treat human beings.”
The council’s own report into the hostel plan even accepted that local residents’ complaints were “not focused on prejudiced or discriminatory views but on the majority of the new residents being young males.”
Only 11 people contacted the council to support the asylum hostel plan.
Yet instead building owner Abid Chudary successfully won approval to turn it into an asylum seekers’ centre to be run by Serco, on behalf of the Home Office.
The proposals from Mr Chudary’s firm Lilycross Homes Ltd envisage up to 120 asylum seekers living there for up for four weeks at a time.
His application explains how the building – officially named Wilmere House – will “provide accommodation for asylum seekers while Home Office checks are carried out.”
Liverpool Echo UKIP leader Paul Nuttall told the Daily Express he supports the campaigners’ pledges
It adds: “After three weeks, applicants will be moved on to a permanent place of residence or their application may be unsuccessful.”
The migrants, mainly from war-ravaged Syria, would be housed over three separate floors.
But yesterday(Tues) Halton Borough Council said of their approval decision:
“The Development Control Committee considered the matter very carefully and taking into account all the evidence approved the application subject to conditions.”