The Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, has made clear her opposition to a proposed Home Office Immigration Enforcement Centre at the Royal Dock.
Newham Council have been made aware that the Home Office intend to use the Grade II listed Warehouse K building, next to the ExCeL exhibition centre, for immigration enforcement purposes, something which was not referred to in an application put forward last October.
Although planning permission was granted in October 2019 for alterations and listed building consent for the continued use of the building for offices and employment uses, the application did not refer to a range of enforcement uses which are not appropriate at the Royal Docks leisure and residential area, and is contrary to Newham’s Local Plan policies, and its policy position against the hostile environment.
Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said today: “Following the threat of action against the Home Office proposal to use Warehouse K as an immigration enforcement centre during the summer, a new planning application is to be submitted even though work at the site has commenced. Whilst the Council was aware that the Home Office were leasing the building for office purposes, as set out in its application determined by planning committee back in October 2019, it was not told of their intention to use it for interviews and immigration detention purposes at the time.
“Operation of the warehouse as a 24-hour immigration enforcement centre, with 35 custody suites, continuous transportation and custody of suspected offenders in high sided vans, is an affront to our diverse community as well as being contrary to Newham’s vision for the Royal Docks.
“In light of new revelations, reported in the Financial Times and Guardian, that the Government is considering setting up asylum camps, outside the UK in places as far flung as Moldova and Papua New Guinea, it’s clear the “hostile environment” for refugees and asylum seekers is very much alive.
“Newham Council stands in solidarity with the Windrush generation, whose experiences laid bare the scandal of the hostile environment. We celebrated their contributions as a nation in June; and we are now marking their significance during Black History Month which starts today. The proposed change of use of Warehouse K in Newham would be wholly at odds with our approach to stand with our communities in that same spirit of solidarity. Moreover, the recent reports that the Home Secretary asked officials to look into the idea of processing asylum seekers on the overseas islands has raised further alarm about the direction of government policy. It is at odds with any professed undertaking of reforms to change the Home Office, its culture and open it up to scrutiny on the impact its actions has on communities.”