A COUNCIL leader has clarified her position on controversial plans to use a notorious former borstal to detain women seeking asylum, confirming she is against them.

Councillor Amanda Hopgood, leader of Durham County Council, issued a statement amid mounting pressure on the authority to publicly oppose the plans for the Hassockfield site near Consett.

She said the joint administration made up of Lib Dems, Tories and independents, passed a motion in July stating the council did not support the Ministry of Justice scheme.

Read more: The great grandmother who risked her life to protect British skies 

But last week opposition Labour councillors wrote to the leader and issued a press release calling on Cllr Hopgood to fight the plans.

The Northern Echo contacted the council about the matter and was given a statement from the leader, but no mention of the summer motion was made or what action was being taken.

Over the weekend Cllr Hopgood said: “It is very clear that the joint administration of Durham County Council is opposed to the Hassockfield site being used as a detention centre, and this was highlighted by the motion that we passed during the July full meeting of the county council.

“That motion also included constructive actions in the event that we couldn’t prevent the opening of the centre, designed to engage with the relevant stakeholders and influence the oversight of the facility, and encouraging all local members to get involved in that work together.

“I am astonished that Labour opposition councillors are behaving in this way now, particularly as Labour members voted against the motion in July.

“For my part, I agree with both the county council motion and the motion passed at the Lib Dem regional conference.

“I do not support the use of that site as a detention and removal centre.”

The Government intends to use site of the notorious Medomsley Detention Centre, where boys were systematically abused during the 60s and 70s, to house females refugees fleeing war in the Middle East as early as next month.

Campaigners from No To Hassockfield, a coalition of local people and campaign groups from across the country, have welcomed Durham County Council’s cross-party opposition to the scheme

Dr Helen Groom said: “Immigration detention is an inhumane practice which imprisons people seeking sanctuary.

“The women who will be detained on this site, will most likely be vulnerable women fleeing war, persecution, sexual violence and may have been subject to trafficking.

“The UK is the only country in Europe which allows indefinite detention.

“We applaud those politicians who are listening to their constituents and adding their voices to the growing opposition to the opening of the site.”


Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated County Durham Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054