Home secretary David Blunkett is expected to announce that land outside Bicester is one of the preferred locations for an "open door" asylum seekers' centre.

With yesterday's local government elections out of the way, Mr Blunkett will give his list of sites to MPs after the bank holiday on Monday.

Local campaigners criticised Mr Blunkett for the delay and are continuing their petition for a public inquiry into the proposal.

The Bicester site believed to be on the Government's shortlist is beside the Bicester-Thame road, opposite Bullingdon Prison, at the Bicester Defence Storage and Distribution Centre.

Piddington Parish Council chairman Tony Tallents said: "Mr Blunkett chickened out from announcing the four preferred sites until after the elections. I am absolutely certain this was a deliberate ploy."

Objectors in surrounding villages believe they have already scored a victory over the Government, after last week's news from Lord Rooker, Minister for Asylum and Immigration, that the Home Office had dropped plans to use fast track powers to push through the plan. Dionne Arrowsmith, of Arncott, one of the petition organisers, said: "I think we, and campaigners in other parts of the country, like Pershore, Worcestershire, and Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, have scored a victory. The extra time of eight weeks that a normal planning process will take will give us more time to get 25,000 signatures to our petition calling for a public inquiry."

Bicester mayor Lawrie Stratford warned that the Government could still refuse to hold an inquiry, even if Cherwell district councillors objected.

Mr Stratford said: "After our objection it is still up to the Home Office or the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions to call for an inquiry."

Cherwell's south area planning officer, Bob Duxbury, said Mr Blunkett was expected to make the announcement any time next week.