Councillors Reject Immigration Centre Plans

8 November 2016, 19:16 | Updated: 8 November 2016, 19:18

Renfrewshire councillors have unanimously rejected plans for an immigration holding facility near Glasgow Airport.

The Home Office was seeking planning consent for a 20-bedroom short-term immigration removal centre at a site on Abbotsinch Road to replace the controversial Dungavel facility.

Planning officers had recommended that the application be granted with conditions but members of the council's planning and property policy board unanimously refused permission.

Convener Terry Kelly said: "Members were unanimously of the view that the proposed facility would be contrary to the adopted Renfrewshire local development plan.

"There was clear concern it would be detrimental to the economic development of the Glasgow Airport investment area - one of the key economic drivers for the city region.

"Members agreed that there was no established identifiable functional link between the proposal and Glasgow Airport's operations.

"The proposed facility's location in a commercial and industrial area would also introduce an inappropriate use through the attendant noise, activity and disturbance.''

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We are disappointed by the decision of the planning committee.

"A new short-term holding facility in Scotland would provide a modern and secure facility for those with no right to be in the UK and would allow for the closure of Dungavel immigration removal centre.''

It was announced in September that Dungavel, near Strathaven, South Lanarkshire, will close at the end of 2017.

The facility has been branded ''racist and inhumane'' and has been at the centre of numerous protests by campaigners who have raised concerns over the treatment of detainees and the length of some detentions.

The council's decision was welcomed by SNP MP Gavin Newlands, who said: "It was clear that the local community didn't want any part in the UK Government's inhumane and ineffective approach towards immigration detention.

"The Prime Minister should take note of this decision and rethink her Government's approach towards immigration detention - a system which detains pregnant women and allows the indefinite detention of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.''

Green MSP Ross Greer said: "Regardless of the decision made today, refugees and immigrants were always going to be the losers. The blame for the state of immigration detention in Scotland lies solely with the UK Government.

"This must be an opportunity for Westminster to begin treating these vulnerable people with some dignity and respect.''