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The Multifaceted Complex History of Northeye

Northeye is a complex that has served multiple purposes throughout its lifetime, ranging from a prison to a military training base for the United Arab Emirates. The complex has been out of use for the past four years, leading to concerns regarding its current state. While the site is set to be used as accommodation for asylum seekers from September 2023, many people have expressed fears that the complex is contaminated with asbestos, making it an “environmental health disaster zone.”

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The Plague of Asbestos in Northeye

The presence of asbestos in Northeye is a cause for concern, with some residents claiming that the site is “riddled with asbestos.” The buildings at Northeye were constructed during a time when asbestos was widely used in construction, making it highly probable that the site is still contaminated with the carcinogenic material. The issue of asbestos at the site poses a serious health risk to anyone who resides there, including asylum seekers. Brian Setchfield, a former scaffolder, argued that it would be infeasible to remove the asbestos, making it unsafe to accommodate anyone at the site.

History of Asbestos at Northeye

The use of asbestos at Northeye dates back to its time as a prison, where it was present on the site until its closure in 1992. The site experienced a major fire in 1986, which destroyed 40% of the buildings, causing the asbestos sheeting to crack and roofing to fall down. As a result, the boiler room is believed to still contain asbestos, with roofing materials, ceiling tiles, and other asbestos-containing materials present on the site.

Plans for Asylum Seeker Accommodation

The Home Office plans to use buildings that are beyond repair at Northeye to replace them with modular buildings, while those in fair condition will undergo refurbishment. However, the presence of asbestos at the site remains a concern, with some residents arguing that there may not be enough time to remove it before asylum seekers move in.

The Home Office’s Response

The Home Office has not confirmed whether asbestos remains at the site after the 1986 fire. A spokesperson for the Home Office stated that any accommodation used for asylum seekers would meet all relevant housing and health and safety rules, and that the current site would be refurbished to meet the required standards.

Refugee Council’s Reaction

Tamsin Baxter, executive director of external affairs at the Refugee Council, expressed that the use of former prisons, military bases, and hotels as asylum seeker accommodation is a result of a chaotic and inefficient asylum system plagued with chronic delays and a record decision-making backlog. Baxter called for the government to address the backlog urgently and replace the current system with a humane, orderly, and well-run approach.
In conclusion, the presence of asbestos at Northeye has caused concerns about the safety of the site for the accommodation of asylum seekers. It is imperative that any site used for asylum seeker accommodation meets all relevant housing and health and safety standards. Asbestos is a serious health hazard that poses risks to anyone residing in contaminated areas. The government should take proactive steps to ensure that any accommodation used for asylum seekers is safe and adheres to people-first principles that prioritize the well-being of all individuals.

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Hi I'm Oliver Smith, I would say that I take great pride in my work as a journalist and strive to produce high-quality, impactful stories that make a difference. With more than eight years of experience under my belt, I am passionate about uncovering the truth and shining a light on issues that matter.


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