Leader delivers statement on Home Office’s position on potential Wethersfield asylum centre 

Braintree District Council leader Councillor Graham Butland read out a statement at a full meeting of the council

The leader of Braintree District Council Leader has issued an update on the Home Office plans for the former Wethersfield airfield. 

Reading a statement at a meeting of the full council today (March 20), Cllr Graham Butland said:  

“Members will be aware of recent media coverage relating to the potential plans by the Home Office to secure accommodation for asylum seekers at Wethersfield Airfield. 

“The Council has been approached by the Home Office to discuss the potential role the Wethersfield airfield site could have in housing asylum seekers. There have now been a number of meetings between officers of this Council and senior officials at the Home Office to discuss the issue and to seek clarification on the proposals being considered by the Home Office. 

“The Home Office has advised the Council that they have not taken any formal decision as to the future use of the site. However, they have confirmed that plans are being considered to provide contingency accommodation for asylum seekers on this site. We understand that if the site is used it would provide accommodation for asylum seekers whilst their claims for asylum are being determined, and not as a detention centre. 

“The Council has provided the Home Office with our strong view that we believe Wethersfield airfield to be an unsuitable site, given the lack of capacity in local services, its isolated location, the size of the site, and the fact that the scale of the development proposed could have a significant adverse impact upon the local community. 

“The Council continues to seek further information from the Home Office, and officers are working tirelessly keeping the situation under review. 

“The Council has sought legal advice and formally written to the Home Office to request full and detailed information on their proposals, together with a request for copies of all relevant documentation. We are awaiting full details from the Home Office at this time. 

“We are also aware that recently there has been a range of activity taking place on the site. We have written to the Home Office to seek a full explanation and reasoning for this activity. 

“In the meantime, the Council reserves all legal rights, including the ability to challenge the Home Office on their decision making and the Council’s right to consider, all available legal remedies including its ability to seek an injunction if it becomes necessary and appropriate to do so. 

“I would like to thank all those that have been working with the Council, including but not limited to the Parish Councils in the immediate vicinity, local community groups and members of the public. We understand how these proposals can give rise to uncertainty, and we will continue to keep residents updated on this matter when we know more via the Council’s communication channels.” 

Published: 20th March 2023