OPPONENTS of plans to reopen an immigration removal centre near Kidlington have reacted with concern to news that the Government is pressing ahead with the scheme.

Home Office minister Robert Jenrick has written to Oxfordshire MPs to confirm that the centre, which closed 2018, would be reopening along with a centre at Haslar in Hampshire.

The centre is expected to be redeveloped to create a 400-bedroom immigration removal centre for men which could be reopened by late next year.

READ MORE: 'We want A34 soundproofed' say council after concerns about noise pollution

A Number 10 spokesman said: "These new facilities will provide safe, secure accommodation with dedicated health facilities on site and will play an important role in efforts to control our borders, process cases and remove those with no right to be in the UK, while ensuring those going through our asylum system are treated with compassion, dignity and respect."

Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran joined local campaigners in fighting for the Kidlington site to be closed and tabled a motion in Parliament in August fighting plans to reopen the centre.

Emma Jones, a member of the campaign group Coalition to Keep Campsfield Closed, said the group "hasn’t lost hope" that the detention centre will remain closed.

She said: “We would draw attention to the Early Day Motions opposing plans to reopen Campsfield House which has been signed by 32 MPs.

READ MORE: Several Christmas events to take place in Oxfordshire town starting NOW

“There were plans to expand it in 2015 and these were abandoned after widespread opposition, so we believe we can keep this place closed.

“We wouldn’t take these reassurances at face value. There was masses of concern over the years it was open about the poor conditions. We don’t believe that the detention centre is the way forward.”

Liz Leffman, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, also urged the Government to halt plans to reopen the centre and wrote to the home secretary last month.  She said her view remain unchanged and insisted the Government should focus on "achieving it’s own targets to deal with asylum claims promptly and fairly".

She said: “In the years before its closure in 2018, Campsfield House was used to detain nearly 30,000 migrants.

“During that time there were weekly demonstrations, protests, hunger strikes, two suicides, escapes and scores of legal challenges. It was finally closed following a damning inquiry into conditions.

“Instead of criminalising people fleeing war, oppression and persecution – who have already suffered at the hands of people traffickers – the Government should focus on achieving its own targets to deal with asylum claims promptly and fairly.”

READ MORE: Fundraiser for young girl after father, 29, died of cancer

Conservative councillor Nigel Simpson, who represents Kirtlington and parts of Kidlington on the county council, said: “I know Kidlington Parish Council has had some discussions with the Home Office and I would probably need to have a meeting with them as well as have a site visit to see what has been delivered in the past and what has been proposed moving forward.

“Until I’ve seen the full details, it’s hard to comment. But I know there is a lot of talk about it around Kidlington and I need to listen to it and hear residents' views.

“It has obviously been a part of Kidlington for many years, but I need to see what the proposals are and whether we’ll have any say in it, which I doubt. But we’ll stand up for the residents' views.

“There certainly needs to be more done in terms of accommodation, facilities and of course the mental health services on site.”

The fresh plans for the detention centre come as the Government vows to crackdown on illegal immigration.

Rishi Sunak yesterday vowed to "grip this challenge of illegal migration" by working with European nations as he faced pressure to sign a new deal with France to curb Channel crossings.

The Prime Minister said there was "lots" to talk about when he met Emmanuel Macron for the first time at Cop27 amid reports he was set to press for a fresh agreement with the French president.

READ MORE: Conservative leader asked to withdraw 'small man jibe' comment

Asked what they will do about the growing number of Channel crossings, Mr Sunak told broadcasters in Sharm El-Sheikh: "It was great to meet President Macron to talk about not just tackling illegal migration but the range of other areas in which we want to cooperate closely with the French on.

"But also let's remember, this is an issue that affects many countries. And actually I've been talking to other European leaders as well about our shared challenge of tackling illegal migration.

"And I think there is an opportunity for us to work closely, not just with the French but with other countries as well.

"By working together with our European partners, we can make a difference, grip this challenge of illegal migration and stop people coming illegally ...

"I'm actually leaving this with renewed confidence and optimism that working together with our European partners, we can make a difference, grip this challenge of illegal migration and stop people coming illegally."

Almost 40,000 migrants have arrived in the UK after crossing the Channel so far this year. There were no crossings in the first six days of November amid bad weather, leaving the provisional total for 2022 to date still standing at 39,913.

The Prime Minister reportedly wants to agree targets for stopping boats, and a minimum number of French officers patrolling beaches while also hoping to be able to deploy Border Force officers in France.


Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

A message from our Editor

Thank you for reading this story and supporting the Oxford Mail.

If you like what we do please consider getting a subscription for the Oxford Mail and in return we’ll give you unrestricted access with less adverts across our website from the latest news, investigations, features, and sport.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok for more. 

You can also join the conversation in our Facebook groups: stay ahead of traffic alerts here, keep up to date with the latest from court here, share your favourite memories of Oxford here, get your daily dose of celebrity news here and take some time out with news that will make you smile. 

If you’ve got a story for our reporters, send us your news here. You can also list an event for free here.