BRAINTREE Council could receive grant funding of more than £6million from the Home Office for having a centre for asylum seekers in the district.

The council lost a legal challenge against using the former Wethersfield air base as an asylum processing centre for up to three years.

Council leader Graham Butland told a cabinet meeting the authority would receive an up-front payment of £1,487,500.

The council will receive additional payments of £3,500 per bed space filled as the Wethersfield site reaches "key thresholds of capacity”.

The centre can accommodate up to 1,700 people.

Mr Butland described the figures as “not so generous when taking different factors into account”, as the payment will only be triggered upon the initial occupancy of a space, and is not ‘per head’ funding.

He said that the £3,500 per bed allowance was “not a bonus sum of money… the amount of time and effort (the council) has to spend on this scheme is quite huge”.

Details of the funding the council will receive comes just weeks after a judicial review investigating whether the Home Office had acted legally in establishing asylum processing sites in Braintree and at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.

The case was dismissed by Mrs Justice Thornton following two days of proceedings at the Royal Courts of Justice.

It was also disclosed that all of  Braintree Council’s legal costs for the judicial review will be paid for by council taxpayers.

Mr Butland issued a warning for cabinet members to be “careful” after concerns were raised over what some councillors believed to be an increase in crime such as thefts and break-ins in their areas.

Hedingham councillor Joanne Beavis said the Home Office’s communications had been “haphazard”, especially when updating town and parish councils.

She said in Castle Hedingham, three cars had been stolen during the last few weeks, which “added to the feeling that there is increased crime”, but she was not laying the blame on the asylum centre.

Mr Butland said: “I’d caution anyone talking about an increase in crime at the same time as the asylum centre as if there is a causal link.

“There is no evidence that there is any link between an increase in crime and the Wethersfield centre.

“As elected members, we have a responsibility to tell people when they are thinking nonsense... the fear of crime is much worse than the actual level.”

Cherie Root, of the council’s management team, said the crime rate around Wethersfield had actually fallen since the asylum centre opened.