A new immigration row has broken out in Calais after the local council tried to block access to an aid point in the town which was set up by a Catholic charity.
The notorious Calais ‘Jungle’ – populated by thousands of Africans and Middle Easterners attempting to seek asylum in the UK – was demolished last October and most of its inhabitants dispersed around France.
In recent weeks, police say, hundreds of people have begun gathering in Calais again in the hope of entering to Britain. They are living and sleeping rough all over town.
Some of them have been using facilities laid on by Catholic Help, whose volunteers offer them food and a hot shower.
But local authorities are angry about the charity’s good works, believing they act as a new magnet which is bound to attract further unwanted immigration to Calais.
It’s been reported that last week the council placed a large metal skip in front of the charity’s buildings to prevent new shower units being installed.
An administrative judge sitting in nearby Lille has ruled this was illegal saying: “By preventing access to any part of the land owned by Catholic Help, the Mayor of Calais has committed a serious and manifestly unlawful interference in property rights.” He said the skip must be removed.
Didier Degremont, president of the Catholic aid service in the region, told the Daily Mail: “The judgment highlights the shameful and incomprehensible character of a council that opposes a group that simply wants to give showers to some young migrants living in appalling conditions.”
But Emmanuel Agius, an aide to Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart, said the town does not want any more immigrants living there. Mr Agius said: “We can’t claim the dismantling of the Jungle was a success and then find a place in the center of the city that will turn into a mini-center organized by Catholic Help where showers and maybe food will be handed out.”