Government chiefs have confirmed plans are in place to re-open a controversial former hostel for asylum seekers next to Wakefield’s maximum security prison.
Immigration minister Mark Harper has revealed that security contractors G4S are working with other firms to re-open the Love Lane hostel on behalf of the UK Border Agency.
Responding to a parliamentary question from Wakefield MP Mary Creagh, Mr Harper said: “G4S are currently in discussions with the Citrus Group and in turn with the Angel Group to utilise Angel Lodge for the use of initial accommodation for asylum seekers.”
The hostel – which is on the site of the former prison staff college – opened in 2007 amid protests after protesters clamied it was too close to HMP Wakefield.
It was closed last year after its funding was cut, much to the to the rellief of protestors who claimed it was in the wrong the location.
When the plans for the hostel were originally announced, protesters claimed it was dangerous due to its proximity to HMP Wakefield.
And Ms Creagh led the campaign to prevent the Love Lane site from opening five years ago.
She had demanded answers from the Secretary of State for the Home Department about whether or not contractors had started to use the hostel.
It could accomodate up to 180 people who would stay for between two and four weeks at a time.
Coun Olivia Rowley, of Wakefield Council, said: “Last time the hostel was open it did not seem to cause any problems in the community.
“But some of these people have been tortured or raped or lost their families.
“And it does not seem suitable to place them next to a high-security prison and railway line.”
Earlier this year Miss Creagh called on the UK Border Agency to come clean about the future of the former hostel.
She said in July: “I am seeking assurances from the home Office that any future service is properly managed, secure and able to meet the needs of the individuals and the wider Wakefield community.”
When it was open, the hostel housed asylum seekers from countries including Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe.