Ministers earmark Overijssel hotel as refugee centre, bypassing council

Villagers with a protest sign. Photo: ANP News United
Villagers with a protest sign. Photo: ANP News United

The village of Albergen in Overijssel has been chosen by ministers as the location for a new asylum seekers centre, under new rules allowing them to bypass local councils.

Refugee settlement agency COA has bought a hotel in the village of 3,500 people which has capacity for up to 300 refugees, junior justice minister Eric van der Burg told MPs in a briefing on the plans.

Talks have been ongoing with the local authority since April without result and now the government has decided to force through the decision. Van den Burg said last week that the government would bypass local planners if the shortage of emergency accommodation was not solved.

The hotel, currently set up to take 80 people, will be taken into use next month. It has room for 200 refugees but that can be expanded to 300 using tents and other temporary buildings in the grounds if necessary, Van der Burg said.

Several dozen locals gathered in the village centre against the decision to place refugees in the hotel on Tuesday night. Most were young, and some set of fireworks in front of the building, local paper Tubantia said.

The local council in nearby Tubbergen, which runs Albergen, said it had been ‘unpleasantly surprised’ by the cabinet decision.

‘It is an extraordinary way of doing things and we are not happy,’ local official Ursula Bekhuis told current affairs show Nieuwsuur. ‘We have not had the opportunity to get local residents on board and a lot of questions are being asked.’

One reason for the overcrowding in refugee centres is the lack of suitable accommodation for people who have been given residency permits. The refugee agency is currently providing beds for some 40,000 people, but 15,000 of them should have moved into regular housing.

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