A developer has caused outrage in a small English village with plans to create an eight acre migrant camp for 1,000 newcomers. He claims to have gotten the idea after visiting The Jungle, a notorious makeshift migrant camp on the outskirts of Calais, France.
Charlie Tull bought the disused business park in 2003, but the site has lain empty as he struggled to find a use for it. Now, having visited The Jungle in Calais, he wants to see the site converted into a “one stop shop” for migrants fleeing the Middle East, the Express has reported.
If the plans go ahead, the complex would include accommodation, recreational and educational facilities, a medical centre, and an asylum processing unit.
But the residents of nearby Littleton-upon-Severn in Gloucestershire are furious. They say the site is too isolated and that the migrants will swamp the village, which boasts just 100 residents, two churches and a pub.
Mr Tull, who lives 35 miles away in the neighbouring county of Wiltshire counters that residents will have no need to leave the site or integrate with their neighbours. He has pointed to the secluded location of the site, tucked down a single-track country lane with no transport links.
“Whether we like it or not the dam has burst a few thousand miles away and migrants are finding their way to the UK,” he said.
“The numbers are increasing, so something needs to happen – not only to deal with the existing problem but to deal with the future problem as things get worse.”
Christopher Doods, head chef at the White Hart, Littleton-upon-Severn’s only pub, said: “This would have a massive impact. It would interfere with village life very much.”
Builder Gareth Lewis added: “It would completely change the feel and balance of the village and the community.”
Mr Tull has not yet submitted a planning application for the change of use to a migrant centre, but has approached Clearsprings, a contractor with responsibility for managing asylum applications in the South West.
But leader of South Gloucestershire Council, Matthew Riddle, said the plans were unlikely to go down well with either the councillors or the public.
“This plan doesn’t fit with the Government’s view that migrants should be dispersed in small numbers and integrated into the local community,” he said.
A Home Office spokeswoman confirmed: “There are no plans for centres this big at the moment.”
In October residents of Longford, near Heathrow complained that their village was “overwhelmed” with migrants, who were using local houses as a stopping off point before being moved on to homes elsewhere in the country.
A retired resident told the Daily Mail “I’m told there are 17 houses with eight or 10 men in each. I have to be careful what I say, I don’t want people to think I am racist but it is a problem.
‘They have got to be put somewhere but to have so many in such a small village, it is overwhelming for those who do live here.
‘They are all men. If it was a family with children from Syria, we would welcome them to the village, for them to be part of the community, they would be good neighbours.”