Dungavel detention centre in Lanarkshire to stay open

3 February 2017, 17:19

Dungavel detention centre

Dungavel detention centre is to remain open after plans to build a replacement unit near Glasgow Airport were rejected by councillors.

The Home Office announced last year that the controversial centre near Strathaven, South Lanarkshire, was to close at the end of 2017 and a short-term holding centre built in Paisley.

However, Renfrewshire Council's Planning and Property Policy Board has rejected the application.

The Home Office said it was "disappointed'' by the decision but it will not appeal against it, confirming that Dungavel will remain open.

Campaigners had welcomed the planned closure of the detention centre, branding it ''racist and inhumane''.

A Home Office spokesman said: ``We always made clear that the closure of Dungavel immigration removal centre was dependent on the opening of a new short-term holding facility in Scotland.

"As the application for a new facility at Paisley was rejected, Dungavel will remain open.''

The planned centre beside Glasgow Airport would have had just 51 beds and the Home Office said the ''vast majority'' of stays would have been for less than a week.

Renfrewshire Council leader Mark Macmillan said he is pleased the Home Office will not seek to have the decision overturned.

He said there are concerns the centre could be  "detrimental to the economic development'' of the area.

"Members of the Planning and Property Policy Board agreed that there was no established identifiable functional link between the proposal and the airport's operations,'' Mr Macmillan said.

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

Dungavel has long been a political issue, with debates and protests staged regularly around the treatment of detainees and the length of some detentions.

In the latest high-profile case at the centre, it has been reported that a woman who has been married to a British man for 27 years is being held prior to deportation.

Irene Clennel, from Durham, was given indefinite leave to remain in the UK after her marriage but periods spent back in Singapore caring for her elderly parents appear to have invalidated her residential status.

She said: "The kids are born here. My husband is from the country. So I don't see what is the issue. But they keep rejecting all the applications.''

SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said: "The announcement by the Home Office that they are no longer closing the Dungavel detention centre is deeply disappointing and distressing.

"Just this week have seen the concerning case of Irene Clennel - a woman who has been married to a British man for 27 years, with two sons and a granddaughter in the UK - being detained at Dungavel.

"The UK Government must make a serious effort to explore alternatives to detention, as the current regime is simply not treating people with the respect they deserve.''

Green West of Scotland MSP Ross Greer has campaigned against the use of detention centres.

He said: "I'm glad to have stood with campaigners against detention centres, new or old.

"Regardless of this decision though, refugees and immigrants were always going to be the losers while immigration policy is decided at Westminster.''

However, the move was welcomed by John Park, assistant general secretary for the union Community, which represents some Dungavel workers.

He said: "The fact the Government will not be contesting the planning decision is testament to the campaigning efforts of our members and the quality of the public service that they deliver in providing a safe environment for detainees.

"We hope this will now bring an end to the uncertainty that has been hanging over our members for many months.

"There is still some work to do to confirm how long the Dungavel contract will be extended. We will continue to work with our members, the employer and politicians from all sides to provide certainty and job security for our members.''

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