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Quantock School History: Press Archive

Villagers reject refugees

by Sarah Hall
The Guardian, 14 June 2000

Residents of a Somerset village with no shop, pub or post office expressed disbelief yesterday as the head of a religious charity claimed their hamlet was the perfect place in which to integrate 74 asylum seekers into British society.

The public gallery of a Bridgwater planning inquiry filled with muffled laughter as the Rev Martin Blakebrough, director of the Baptist charity Kaleidoscope, said he believed the refugees would readily "find acceptance" in the 314-population village of Over Stowey.

The reaction came on the first day of the two day inquiry into why the local council rejected plans to house asylum seekers in Quantock Lodge, a former boarding school in the village.

In January, Sedgemoor district council rejected the proposal. But Kaleidoscope launched an appeal.