The Bedford MP, the mayor and the town's Labour group have hit out at plans to construct prefab-style accommodation at Yarl’s Wood to house male asylum seekers.
Bedford and Kempston MP Mohammad Yasin raised this issue with the minister in Parliament, but the response was that accommodation met "required standards".
Labour group leader, Sue Oliver, said: “For many years we have had grave concerns about the conditions faced by the women housed at Yarl’s Wood, and have had to push for access to visit and scrutinise the health and social care they were receiving. Now we hear accommodation is being thrown up to house 200 men on the same remote site.”
Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “The council has been informed by the Home Office that they are planning to provide additional temporary accommodation units at the Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre for migrants waiting for decisions on asylum claims.
"We have asked the Home Office to urgently provide more details about these plans, the potential impact on the centre and on any surrounding communities.
“As yet there has been very little communication with the council or the local community. We need to know far more about what accommodation is being provided and the support that will be available to the people who may be housed there.
“Concerns have been raised before about issues at Yarl's Wood. With little information we have received, I am worried about the ongoing wellbeing of those housed there, many of whom will be vulnerable and having fled awful conditions and atrocities. The Home Office must ensure that any additional accommodation it is providing is civilised and respectful of the experiences of those it is housing.”
Councillor Louise Jackson, portfolio holder for public health, said: “This is a particularly nasty proposal from the Home Office - rule changes snuck through without Parliamentary scrutiny and the creation of ‘asylum camps’ to house some extremely vulnerable people.
"Nobody is going to be truly free to leave a gated industrial estate in the middle of nowhere, and there’s little clarity available on what amenities will be provided. The Government need to urgently rethink this.”
Bedford Today approached the Home Office for comment last week.