Campaigners hail victory as council rejects Dungavel replacement

Nathanael Williams

Home Office plans for an immigration removal centre next to Glasgow Airport have been unanimously rejected by councillors

THE planning committee of Renfrewshire Council has rejected an application by the UK Government Home Office to open a 51 bed “short-term holding facility" to house those awaiting deportation from the UK.

The announcement yesterday [Tuesday 8 November] follows the news in September that the controversial Dungavel detention centre in Lanarkshire was to close in early 2017. Dungavel had been the site of numerous allegations of abuse as well as suicides and hunger strikes by detainees who complained about the harsh conditions.

Among the numerous concerns raised by members of the public, anti-racist campaigners and councillors were the poor planning, lack of economic justification and moral justification given to the council when the application was originally made.

Jenny Mcshane, a member of Stop Detention Scotland, said of the decision; “Community pressure and the council’s objection has dealt a blow to immigration detention.  We welcome this decision and with the promised closure of Dungavel, the end to detention in Scotland.”

In total 297 public objections were lodged with councillors voicing their anger at the plans in the meeting. Campaigners from Stop Detention Scotland, The Unity Centre and We Will Rise staged a protest outside the meeting to voice their anger at the proposed centre, chanting: ‘No hate, no fear, migrants are welcome here.”

Planning had included 20 bedrooms and other attachments which would have been spread out over two floors.

However, the objections at the council meeting centred on the lack of “planning thought” given to the Home Office application. The main areas had been that the detention centre would violate council planning law in not meeting the minimum standards of improving the wider economic of the area, providing suitable vocational and emergency service support. Moral objections to the plan were also factored into the minutes.

The campaign group Positive Action in Housing also paid tribute to the decision and the continuous campaigning against the replacement centre. It said: “Renfrewshire Council speaks up admirably for refugees and says a unanimous no to the proposed detention of refugees including children and families at Abbotsinch. And it's tails between the dog’s legs for the UK government and its poisonous xenophobic rhetoric against refugees, migrants , Muslims and ethnic minorities. A brilliant campaign led by Stop Detention Scotland and those who objected to the planned detention camp.”

The council planning committee will meet in the next few weeks to discuss any anticipation of a reapplication by the UK Home Office. 

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