Government scrap plans to house asylum seekers in Southport Pontins
Ministers are searching for large sites to replace the costly use of hotels to house asylum seekers.
The UK government has scrapped plans to house asylum seekers in the Pontins holiday resort in Southport.
Sefton Council had opposed converting the resort, in Ainsdale, into asylum accommodation. The authority is understood to have raised a number of objections, including the logistics of accessing the site and the impact it would have on its local tourism.
Southport MP Damien Moore described the proposal for Pontins as ‘completely inappropriate’ and added that an influx of vulnerable families would have added further pressure on local children’s services — already rated ‘inadequate’ by regulator Ofsted.
Ministers are searching for large sites to replace the costly use of hotels to house asylum seekers awaiting decisions while their claims are assessed. The council was approached by the Home Office last year about potentially turning the site into a temporary base, which can accommodate more than 3,000 people, and is still currently used as a holiday resort.
The government was understood to be close to finalising plans with Britannia, the holiday park’s owner, which would have seen the coastal attraction closed to the public.
A council spokesperson said: “We have now been informed that the Home Office no longer wish to pursue plans to house Asylum Seekers at the Pontins site in Ainsdale. We are awaiting written confirmation of this decision.”
The talks are not understood to have involved Sefton Council or local MP Damien Moore who criticised the government for failing to communicate with him over a key issue affecting his community, saying: “MPs should be updated by Home Office officials on how discussions are going.”
The government wants to end the reliance on hotels to house asylum seekers who are awaiting decisions on their claims, which the Home Office says is costing £6.8m a day.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick is trying to find larger alternative sites which he says will be cheaper – including former student halls of residence, holiday parks and surplus military sites. But none have yet been given the go-ahead.
A plan to turn a former RAF base in Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire into an asylum centre was also scrapped last summer due to local opposition.
Woman with undiagnosed brain tumour had to visit doctors nine times to get scan
Doctors told her if she had not had the surgery within a few hours or days then it could have been a different story
A woman with an undiagnosed brain tumour who was told ‘we don’t give out brain scans to 24-year-olds willy nilly’ is now campaigning for change.
Claudia Laird, from Burnley, went to see a medical professional on nine occasions as she tried to get to the bottom of why she felt so unwell. One week later, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Claudia told ITV Granada Reports: “I think the initial reaction was trusting of the GP. I was in shock after, because I found out I definitely needed that brain scan.
“It was all quite quick – they weren’t sure what was on the brain at first. It was all up in the air.
“I can’t believe I went through that. We were just waiting for the doctors to tell us the outcome. It was challenging, but more so looking back on it now. At the time, you don’t know the outcome.”
Claudia was experiencing symptoms of confusion, hallucinations and fatigue. But doctors put it down to what they thought to be gastroenteritis. After discovering the tumour, Claudia had to then undergo an eight-hour operation.
Doctors told her if she had not had the surgery within a few hours or days then it could have been a different story. She said: “I was asleep all the time. My friends would call me lazy. I thought it was because I was working long hours.
“I walked into a window thinking it was a door. I spent a night in bed with my mum and dad because I was hallucinating.”
Claudia is now training to be a paediatrician, to give people the same level of care. After the difficulty she had in getting diagnosed, Claudia has decided she does not want the same mistakes to happen to someone else.
Claudia said: “We need everybody to understand the difficulty of getting that diagnosis. It took me over nine times to get that diagnosis. I went to opticians, GP and A&E just to push to say ‘I really don’t think something is right here’.
“I want to see some changes, some research, funding into brain tumours. 1% of cancer research goes into brain tumours.”
The NHS lists the symptoms of a brain tumour as:
- seizures (fits)
- persistently feeling sick (nausea), being sick (vomiting) and drowsiness.
- mental or behavioural changes, such as memory problems or changes in personality.
- progressive weakness or paralysis on one side of the body.
- vision or speech problems.
Elderly Manchester jewellers fight off armed robber in terrifying footage
‘I don’t think he expected us to do what we did. But the adrenaline kicked in’
A couple of grandparents from Manchester who own a jewellery shop have revealed how they fought off an armed robber.
Malcolm Abelson, 78, and his wife Elise, 73, spoke of how ‘the adrenaline kicked in’ when they confronted an armed robber as he tried to steal a necklace and diamond bracelet from their shop in St Ann’s Arcade.
During a scuffle the man attempted to hit Mr Abelson with a claw hammer before he was overpowered. Mrs Abelson said: “He must have thought two old people were an easy target.”
The couple, who have four children and 10 grandchildren, said the man had visited the city centre shop earlier that morning before returning an hour-and-a-half later — The BBC reports.
“He asked to look at a necklace and diamond bracelet and he said they were for his girlfriend,” Mrs Abelson said.
“As I was showing him them I realised he was wearing thick black plastic gloves, and then he tried to snatch them. He said ‘give them to me’, but there was no way in the world I was going to give him them.”
It was at this point Mr Abelson realised what was happening and confronted the assailant, who suddenly pulled out a claw hammer. Mrs Abelson said: “I set the panic alarm off and was screaming the police are coming.”
She said her husband was able to get the thief outside before he ran away, dropping his phone, hat and the hammer. “I don’t think he expected us to do what we did. But the adrenaline kicked in,” she said. “I look back and think it was stupid really. Why did we do that? He could have had a knife. I don’t know what made us do it.”
The shop was originally founded by Mr Abelson’s grandfather Julius Abelson in 1895 and the family have run the business ever since. Mr Abelson, who had a quadruple heart bypass four years ago, has worked in the shop since he was 16 years old.
Mrs Abelson, who has worked at the shop for 40 years, said the pair had experienced crime at the store in the past but this was the first time they had faced an armed robbery. “We’ve had the odd snatch and grab but we’ve never had an armed attack like this,” she said.
“It’s happened now, and we carry on. Thankfully it is very rare.” She said they were both left shaken but unhurt and continued to open the shop as usual on Tuesday March 14th.
After CCTV footage of the incident was shared on Twitter by the couple’s grandson, several social media users described Mr Abelson as a ‘hero’.
One woman tweeted: “Well done that man, deserves a medal, you should be very proud.”
Greater Manchester Police confirmed officers were investigating the incident.
How emergency alert will affect your mobile phone next month and what you need to do
Here’s what will happen…
An emergency warning will be sent by the government to mobile phone users across the UK next month to test a new public alert system.
The loud siren-like emergency test will be issued to mobile phone users, with the nationwide trial due in the early evening of Sunday April 23rd. A message will appear on the home screens of people’s devices during the test, with vibration and a loud warning sound that will ring for about 10 seconds – even if the phone is set to silent mode.
Phone users will be unable to use other features on their devices unless they acknowledge the alert. According to the government website, it reads: “Emergency Alerts is a UK government service that will warn you if there’s a danger to life nearby.
“In an emergency, your mobile phone or tablet will receive an alert with advice about how to stay safe. The government does not need to know your phone number or location to send you an alert.”
It has been modelled on successful services already used in a number of other countries, including the US, Canada, the Netherlands and Japan, where it has been widely credited with saving lives, for example, during severe weather events.
Emergency Alerts will be used very rarely – only being sent where there is an immediate risk to people’s lives – so people may not receive an alert for months, or even years. Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden said: “We are strengthening our national resilience with a new emergency alerts system, to deal with a wide range of threats – from flooding to wildfires.
“It will revolutionise our ability to warn and inform people who are in immediate danger, and help us keep people safe. As we’ve seen in the US and elsewhere, the buzz of a phone can save a life.”
People who do not wish to receive the alerts will be able to opt out in their device settings, but officials hope the life-saving potential of the messages means that users will keep them on. The alerts will only ever come from the government or emergency services. They will include the details of the area affected, and provide instructions about how best to respond.
Mark Hardingham, chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council, welcomed the system, saying: “Together with every fire and rescue service in the country, I’m looking forward to having emergency alerts available to help us to do our jobs and to help communities in the event of emergencies.
“We’ve seen this type of system in action elsewhere across the world and we look forward to having the facility here in the UK – by working together with fire services and partners we want this system to help us to help you be as safe as you can if a crisis does hit.”
The Cabinet Office said the alerts are secure, free to receive, and one-way, insisting they do not reveal anyone’s location or collect personal data. Tests of the service have already taken place in East Suffolk and Reading.
The scheme could eventually be expanded to cover terrorist incidents, but officials acknowledged that much more information about how the alerts system operates in the UK would be needed before that could happen in response to a fast-moving attack.
What will an emergency alert look like?
Emergency Alerts will appear on your device and you will hear a loud siren-like sound for up to 10 seconds. It will appear on your device’s home screen and you must acknowledge it before you can use other features. They appear as a notification and may include telephone numbers or website links containing further information. A loud, siren-like sound and vibration will accompany the message to raise awareness of the hazard or threat.
What will they be used for?
Emergency alerts will be used to inform people about severe threats to life in particular areas, such as flooding or wildfires. They will not be used to spam you.
Are emergency alerts free?
Emergency alerts are a free service provided by the UK Government.
How accessible are they?
If you have a vision or hearing impairment, audio and vibration attention signals will let you know you have an emergency alert. Emergency alerts will be sent in English. In Wales, they may also be sent in Welsh. People in all parts of the UK will receive them.
Which devices will receive them?
Emergency alerts work on all 4G and 5G phone networks widely used by smartphones. This will not include older ‘non-smart’ phones but the 3G technology that they use is being switched off next year. If you do not have a compatible device, you’ll still be informed about an emergency as the emergency services have other ways to warn you when there is a threat to life.
What shall I do when I receive the National Test Message on April 23rd?
When you receive the Welcome Message you do not need to take any action. The siren will stop automatically after ten seconds. A welcome message will stay on screen until you acknowledge it, just like a ‘low battery’ warning. It will not affect your battery life.
How can I opt out of emergency alerts?
You can opt out of emergency alerts, but you are advised to keep them switched on for your own safety. To opt out, search your settings for ‘emergency alerts’. Then turn off ‘severe alerts’ and ‘extreme alerts’. If you still get alerts, contact your device manufacturer for help. You will not receive alerts if your device is turned off or in airplane mode.