Braintree Council has Wethersfield asylum seekers legal challenge heard in High Court

In July, Braintree Council was given permission to pursue a judicial review to challenge the Home Office’s use of RAF Wethersfield to house asylum seekers.

The case took place at the High Court over a two-day hearing yesterday, Tuesday, October 31, and today, Wednesday, November 1.

Legal representatives for both Braintree Council and individual claimant as well as Wethersfield resident Tony Clarke-Holland.

Presiding over the court, Mrs Justice Thornton considered arguments from both parties.

They argued the Home Office acted unlawfully in commissioning the site by breaching ordinary planning laws, as well as unnecessarily invoking emergency ‘Class Q’ legislation.

Class Q policy allows for the development of crown land in emergency circumstances without the need for planning permission.

Claims have also been made that the Home Office misinterpreted the criteria for ’emergency’ measures to be taken in housing newly arrived asylum seekers at risk of homelessness in the area.

The final decision will be made at a later date after the High Court reserves judgement.

Council leader Graham Butland said: “We will have to wait a little while longer to get a final decision on the Judicial Review challenge which we were pleased to secure permission for, implying the High Court felt the Council had an arguable case, and that there were key issues that needed to be fully considered.

“From the moment the decision to use RAF Wethersfield as an asylum accommodation centre was made, the Council have been clear that this is not a suitable site for this purpose and the Home Office has failed to secure appropriate planning permission or adequately assess the impact of their proposals.

“The Judicial Review provided us with an opportunity to challenge these points and present this to the court, with the hope of a successful outcome, as it’s important to us to not only represent the views and concerns of the local community but to hold the government to account when we believe breaches of regulations have taken place.”