Councillor Mans has written to Immigration Minister, Chris Philp, to set out his concerns and opposition to the proposals for a temporary asylum centre to be established for up to 500 adults on currently uninhabited Ministry of Defence land near the village.
Councillor Mans said: “I have major reservations about the suitability of the site. As it stands, it is not habitable or safe. There are potential concerns around contaminated land and nitrate pollution; a lack of suitable utilities; and no local transport links to nearby Andover, Winchester or Basingstoke – hindering the ability of the site’s inhabitants to integrate fully into society and forcing people to potentially navigate busy and dangerous roads by foot.
“Furthermore, there has been no consultation and engagement within the local community to listen to the views of the public and key stakeholders. I simply do not believe this is the right way forward.”
Barton Stacey currently has a population of around 1,000 residents. If the site is approved by Government for use as a temporary asylum centre, the accommodation would potentially increase the local population by up to 40% - impacting the existing community and requiring support to both people seeking asylum, and current residents, to safeguard community cohesion.
Councillor Mans continued: “It’s crucial for those seeking asylum in this country to be provided with the best opportunities and facilities in order to settle, form a valuable part of their local communities, and make a meaningful contribution. If we fail to provide these people with the right start in this important journey, there is a risk of having a detrimental impact on their life chances.
“Accommodation for people seeking asylum remains a long-standing national issue and I will continue to press Government on Hampshire’s concerns and demand a long-term strategy and solution - as the issue rightly deserves. This ill thought through short-term proposal which potentially uses emergency powers to gain planning permission is not acceptable.”
Hampshire County Council understands that the Home Office is also considering other sites outside the county area, and that a decision will be made imminently.
In preparation, the County Council is liaising with key public sector partners, including Hampshire Constabulary, on strategy and support.