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Fears Asylum centre on RAF Scampton will put £300million project in jeopardy

NewsFears Asylum centre on RAF Scampton will put £300million project in jeopardy

A Lincolnshire council has branded the Government’s plans to turn an RAF base into an asylum centre as “irrational” and claims the move will jeopardise a £300million regeneration project on the site.

West Lindsey District Council, a Conservative-led council, launched legal action against the Government over its plans for the Scampton base.

The scheme to regenerate the base, which would retain the runway but include new homes, entertainment venues and a museum, was announced just prior to the Home Office revealing its plan to use it for an asylum centre.

According to Government documents, the base will house “single adult male” asylum seekers, phasing the men in over time. Starting with a few hundred before expanding to around 2,000.

The Home Office said it recognised the importance of the “rich heritage” of RAF Scampton and said it had “undertaken significant engagement with Historic England”.

The council says they have had limited communication with the Government, with the exception of a pre-action protocol letter saying the government could not provide a substantive response until 6 April – and would aim to reply by 14 April.

This comes despite a 4pm deadline on 6 April being set by the council.

RAF Scampton isn’t the only airfield that is being used by the Government to house asylum seekers. MDP Wethersfield in north Essex, formerly a WW2 RAF base, is also being taken over by the Home Office.

Much like West Lindsey District Council, Braintree District Council, which is also Conservative-led, is taking the Government to court over the plan.

In a statement on their legal action, the Essex-based council said: “Following Braintree District Council applying for an injunction against the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence to stop them establishing an asylum centre at Wethersfield Airfield, we have secured agreement from the High Court for a full injunction to be heard on 19th April 2023.

“By securing a full-day hearing on the legality of the Home Office’s actions, we have been able to obtain further information about the potential use of the site.   

“As part of our legal proceedings, the Home Office has confirmed to the judge hearing the case that they will not move asylum seekers on to Wethersfield Airfield until a time after the court hearing and will only do so if they succeed in defending their position against our injunction.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Delivering accommodation on surplus military sites will provide cheaper, suitable accommodation for those arriving in small boats whilst helping to reduce the use of hotels.

“These accommodation sites will house asylum seekers in basic, safe and secure accommodation as they await a decision on their claim.

“We understand the concerns of local communities and will work closely with councils and key partners to manage the impact of using these sites, including liaising with local police to make sure appropriate arrangements are in place.”

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