Armed Forces minister accuses James Cleverly of breaking his word on migrant flats

Leo Docherty said the plans to move the migrants in Farnborough, Hants, were 'totally unacceptable'
Leo Docherty said the plans to move the migrants in Farnborough, Hants, were 'totally unacceptable' - DPA/Alamy Live News

The Armed Forces minister has accused the Home Secretary of going against his word after he approved plans to move migrants into a new block of flats in his seat.

Leo Docherty said James Cleverly had assured him that plans to fill the development in Farnborough, Hants, with 350 asylum seekers were being paused.

But leaked Home Office correspondence with the local Rushmoor borough council has revealed that the plans were authorised on May 25, the day before pre-election purdah rules kicked in.

“The last I heard, on the eve of dissolution from the Home Secretary directly, there was no change, due to concerns we’ve heard about local protests and very strong local feeling,” he told The Times.

“It’s very alarming that during dissolution, the borough council, along with the Home Office, have progressed these plans, which is totally unacceptable and if I’m re-elected, I will continue to fight it very vocally.”

The documents show the migrants will be moved into the flats at Pinehurst Hill Side from July 15.

The block will be used as “overflow dispersal accommodation” in a bid to move migrants out of hotels.

Mr Docherty, the MP for Aldershot, said Mr Cleverly had agreed in January to pause the plan pending a review due to community cohesion and law and order concerns.

The constituency is a battleground seat despite Mr Docherty winning a 17,000-vote majority in 2019.

A victory by Alex Baker, the Labour candidate, in the seat would be the first by a non-Tory since 1918.

Aldershot Garrison, also known as Aldershot Military Town, has been seen as the spiritual home of the Army for more than 150 years.

Labour won there the first time in May as it seized Rushmoor, the local council, from Tory control.

Mr Docherty, 47, is running again to be the town’s MP on July 4, having won a near-17,000 majority in 2019. He was first elected to represent the constituency in 2017.

Mr Cleverly was approached for comment.