LILYCROSS ASYLUM CENTRE WILL BE ‘ LILYGATE’ FOR HALTON COUNCIL
Following last night’s (Mon) stormy council meeting at which an application to convert a care home into an asylum seekers centre in Widnes was given the go-ahead opponents have pledged to contest the decision.
And UKIP leader Paul Nuttall, who had already urged Halton Borough Council to take into account comments by Jeremy Corbyn over the need for care homes, is supporting the protesters’ fight.
The former Lilycross care home housed 60 people before being closed down and owner Abid Chudary successfully applied for it to turned into an interim asylum seekers centre to be run by Serco on behalf of the Home Office.
About 80 protesters attended the meeting at the Select Security Stadium in Widnes and at least the same number were outside. There was anger that the car park was closed, except for councillors and councils staff, which caused parking difficulties including for disabled residents.
The campaign group which has been fighting the plans, said to be set to completely change and overwhelm the local community of about 50 or so residents, is now considering taking the decision to a judicial review.
“This has been an absolute travesty of justice,” said one of the group leaders, Derek Williams.
He said, after the meeting, that 4,000 people had voiced their objections but the council was determined to go ahead. “They have completely disregarded the local consensus.”
Mr Williams also pointed out that a judicial review will be very costly for both sides but such is the strength of local feeling that residents plan to pursue it. “This will be Lilygate for Halton Borough Council and will cost them a lot of money.
“This Labour council has railroaded this application and it is not right.”
Mr Williams said that the decision was made despite confirmation from the designers of the existing sewage system, deemed by the council to be adequate for the 120 asylum seekers, that it will not cope with twice the number of people it was designed for.
“This will lead to environmental pollution including fouling the River Mersey, which so much effort has been made to clean up,” he said.
Philip Busow, chairman of Halton’s UKIP branch, who was among those at the meeting, described the decision of the development control committee, described the decision as “a stitch up.”
Mr Williams is urgently trying to arrange to meet MEP Paul Nuttall to enlist his support in challenging the ruling. Mr Nuttall said that he will do everything he can to help the protestors and shares their views.
He pointed out last week that there is a clinician-led consortium ready and waiting in the wings to take over the premies, starting by taking 60 elderly patients from Whiston Hospital who are currently blocking beds as they have nowhere to go.