14 Reasons Why Campsfield Must Not Be Expanded

This leaflet was handed out at the lobby of the Cherwell District Planning meeting.

1 The position of Leigh Day, solicitors for Stop Campsfield Expansion, is: the Home Office must show that very special conditions exist to justify inappropriate development in the Green Belt. They haven’t, so the application should be refused. (There is no reason to treat the HO/MOJ differently.)

2 It is wrong to consider that simply because something is government “policy” this means that the “need” is established and this case must be taken at face value. The Council must reach an independent view, not knuckle under to the government.

3 The criteria for the alternatives sites search were not reasonable. It is not reasonable to confine your search to sites you already own to justify development on a Green Belt site.

4 The logic of the government’s own trend figures is that more detention beds are not needed: fewer people are being deported, while detention capacity has been going up fast.

5 There are serious concerns about the plans for the building themselves and the risks in having 2 regimes for the old and proposed new parts of the centre.

6 The plans (incomplete in some areas for ‘security’) would involve lower standards than in the present centre in the new areas: a less open regime, poor toilet facilities, less sports facilities.

7 Emerging Local Plan policies Kidlington 1 and ESD14 allow for a small-scale local review of the Green Belt to allow for identified high-value employment. Additional employment from an expanded Campsfield would not be of this kind.

8 Aspects of the suggested development (mass, size of development in the Green Belt, height of buildings, concentration of buildings on the site, likely increase in traffic, insufficient parking, water drainage problems, likely increased light pollution) in any case make it unacceptable, and inappropriate in a Green Belt.

9 Government figures show larger centres have more incidents (disturbances) per 100 detainees. So – more disturbances and emergency services demand if the application is approved.

10 This project would strongly undermine the reputation of Kidlington. Immigration detention has been widely criticised in the UK and by international agencies. A Campsfield X 2 would make the district a less desirable place to bring up children to believe in just treatment and respect for all.

11 One of Europe’s biggest detention centres nearby would not favour the Science Park, hotels.

12 Pressure is on Councillors to exclude issues such as the fact that it is wrong to lock up innocent people. We contend that nevertheless, Councillors have an overarching humanitarian duty to take these matters into account.

13 Local people do not want the development. E.g. The local parish councils, over 65 public submissions to Cherwell Council including a letter signed by 21 Oxfordshire Organisations, and another signed by 69 senior Oxford University academics, the deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the current MP and all prospective parliamentary candidates for Oxford (West) and Abingdon.

14 National developments mean that the application is not well-timed (e.g. Theresa May’s review of detention & vulnerability, the Parliamentary Inquiry into the Use of Immigration Detention due to report in March).



19/02/15 – immediate use


Cherwell District Councillors today voted to defer an application to more than double the size of Campsfield House Immigration Removal Centre, due to late receipt of a legal letter by Leigh Day solicitors, representing members of the Stop Campsfield Expansion group.

The letter stated that the approach in the Officer’s Committee Report, prepared by Cherwell District Council and which made recommendations followed by elected Planning Committee Members, “is plainly wrong in law”. The Officer’s Committee Report advised Councillors not to consider relevant evidence, falsely suggested that Planning Matters such as the standard of accommodation were not actually planning matters, and encouraged them to accept Home Office policy statements blindly without the need for evidence.

Campaigners said this vindicated their approach: “This backs up what we’ve been saying from the beginning, that Councillors must consider all the evidence and make up their own minds whether there is a need to detain more migrants,” said Bill MacKeith of the Campaign to Close Campsfield. “Since the Home Office’s own figures confirm that they are releasing more and more detainees without taking further action against them, people who they should never have locked up in the first place, we are confident Councillors will eventually decide that there is no “Need”.”

At a lobby called by Oxford Trades Union Council outside the council offices in Bodicote, Banbury, 40-50 people heard speeches from members of the Movement for Justice; Maurice Wren, head of the Refugee Council of England and Wales; and parliamentary candidates Sally Copley and Larry Sanders from the Labour and Green parties respectively.


The next Cherwell planning committee meeting is on 19 March.

For more information, contact Bill MacKeith on 01865 558 145 or Liz
Peretz on 07791738577

Legal bombshell hits Campsfield expansion plan

PRESS RELEASE – for immediate use     18 February 2015

Cherwell Planning Committee meet on Thursday 19 February to decide on the Home Office/Ministry of Justice application to double the size of Campsfield immigration detention centre near Kidlington.

Today, lawyers for campaigners objecting to the plan have written to the Council. In their opinion, the report of the Planning Officer which recommends approval of the application, is wrong in law and ‘the Developer simply and clearly fails to discharge its burden of proof.’

The 7-page letter dated 17 February 2015 was sent to the Chief Executive and the reporting Planning Officer of Cherwell District Council by London solicitors Leigh Day. Leigh Day are acting on behalf of Stop Campsfield Expansion, a local group of concerned individuals and organisations, which includes Asylum Welcome and the Campaign to Close Campsfield.

At the heart of the letter is the failure by the applicants, in the view of the solicitors, to establish that there is a clear need for expansion. The letter states:

‘For the reasons set out below, the approach in the OCR [Officer’s Committee Report, which recommends approval of the application] is plainly wrong in law.

‘Further, it is clear to us that on the information before the Council, this application should be refused. It is for the Developer to satisfy the Council that very special circumstances to justify this inappropriate development in the greenbelt are established.   The information before the Council completely fails to do this.

‘Put shortly, the Developer simply and clearly fails to discharge its burden of proof.’

Bill MacKeith of the Campaign to Close Campfield said: ‘The question now is, will the councillors have the sense to reject the advice given by their planning officer, and reject the application. Of course, we hope that they will.’

Campaign to Close Campsfield: Bill 01865 558145, Liz 07791 738 577, Tim 07721 771 835 Gill 01993 703994

Leigh Day: David Standard, Head of Media Relations 01949 850246  or  07540 332717, dstandard@leighday.co.uk

There will be a peaceful lobby (‘Say NO to the Government’s plan to double the size of Campsfield’) of Cherwell District Council Planning Committee, on Thursday 19th February 2015, Assemble 3:15pm Council Offices, Bodicote House, Bodicote, Banbury OX15 4AA. Called by Oxford & District Trades Union Council.

‘Very positive’ HMIP report is NOT a reason to double the size of Campsfield


The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick, said overall this report[1] was a ‘very positive’ inspection. The report makes 84 recommendations for necessary improvements to meet an acceptable standard. ‘How inadequate does a detention centre regime have to be to qualify as inadequate or poor?’ asks Close Campsfield Campaign spokesperson Bill MacKeith.

Overall, the report reveals a catalogue of errors and inadequacies[2], prominent among which are inadequate health facilities, overcrowding and the detention (against government ‘guidelines’) of sick people and victims of torture, the Home Office riding roughshod over doctors’ ‘Rule 35’ health screening recommendations that detained individuals should be released. Continue reading

#StopCampsfieldExpansion updates

UPDATE 11 FEB 2015

Lobby Cherwell District Council Planning Committee
Thursday 19 February 2015 Assemble 3:15pm
Council Offices, Bodicote House, Bodicote

Public transport – Bus S4 from stop C4 Magdalen St, Oxford:  1415
arrives Bodicote c.1523; returns 1653, 1753

Contact: closecampsfield@riseup.net or telephone Lobby flyer Continue reading

Demo at Campsfield – Wednesday 3rd December 12.30pm

Demo with Movement for Justice and Oxford Migrant Solidarity at Campsfield main gates (Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxon, OX5 1RE).
LONDON MEET UP: 8.30am Marble Arch Tube station, see http://conta.cc/1v6B5Xm for more details.

In solidarity with the detainees and their demands.

Protests in Campsfield IRC after detainee is beaten up by Mitie security guards

Press Release
For Immediate Release: 30/11/2014

A detainee with mental health issues is in a critical condition after being beaten up by Mitie security guards at Campsfield IRC in Oxfordshire. Between 60 and 100 detainees have occupied the courtyard to protest against the violence and the inhuman living conditions they suffer during detention. Continue reading