Linton-on-Ouse: MP urges PM to stop village asylum centre plan

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RAF Linton-on-Ouse signImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
The government intends to house up to 1,500 men at an ex-RAF station in North Yorkshire

A Conservative MP has urged the Prime Minister to halt plans to open an asylum processing centre at a former RAF station in North Yorkshire.

Kevin Hollinrake was told on Tuesday the first asylum seekers would arrive at Linton-on-Ouse "on or before 31 May".

Speaking at Prime Minister's Questions, the Thirsk and Malton MP said the centre would "devastate the community".

Boris Johnson said he had heard the MP's concerns "loud and clear".

'Totally unsuitable'

Mr Hollinrake told the Prime Minister his constituents had previously welcomed asylum seekers from all parts of the world.

However, he said the plan for Linton-on-Ouse was "totally unsuitable" given the size of the village and the lack of amenities.

"It will devastate the community. It will devastate house prices, which will plummet, and the residents of that village will not feel safe to leave their homes alone," he said.

"Will my right honourable friend, please, on behalf of the community please stop these plans?" he asked the Prime Minister.

In reply, Mr Johnson said he was aware the Home Secretary was "engaging with him" and others about the use of the site.

"I hear loud and clear what he's had to say. Indeed, I'm the recipient of many of these intercessions on this matter," he said.

"And I understand the strength of feeling in his constituency. And I'm sure there'll be further meetings between him and the Home Office about what we can do."

Proposals for Linton-on-Ouse, near York, were announced as part of the government's new immigration policy in April.

However, the plans have been heavily criticised over concerns about the impact on the local area, lack of facilities and lack of consultation.

Officials intend to eventually house up to 1,500 single men at the former RAF station on the outskirts of the village.

After confirmation the first men would arrive at the site by the end of May, Mr Hollinrake said the Home Office had "failed at every turn to actively respond to and mitigate the very reasonable concerns that have been raised".

He added he was still waiting for responses to the concerns of residents sent to officials on 21 April.

"It is simply unacceptable that this has been pushed through under the guise of this being an emergency, with the pandemic even cited as justification."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The council is considering a legal challenge to the Home Office's decision

He said he also doubted whether facilities such as a gym, cinema, library, policing plan, and CCTV cameras would be in place before the centre was occupied.

According to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mark Robson, the Conservative leader of Hambleton District Council, said news of the imminent arrival had been a "bit of a bombshell".

"What we were told was four to six weeks just before Easter has suddenly become two weeks' time," he said.

Mr Robson added that there remained a great deal of worry and concern in the area about the plans, saying he had in the "strongest possible terms" asked the Home Office to pause the proposal immediately.

Hambleton Council had previously said it was considering mounting a legal challenge, but was waiting for professional advice.

The Home Office has said the centre would "help end our reliance on expensive hotels which are costing the taxpayer £4.7m a day".

It added it was "engaging with local stakeholders about the use of the site".

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