Priti Patel is reportedly already planning a visit, but nothing less than a proper face-to-face interaction with villagers is acceptable.
This is especially pertinent given that since the proposal was announced without the consultation of locals in April, questions put to the Home Office on their behalf by TYP have been ignored and irrelevant statements about its so-called ‘New Plan for Immigration’ offered instead – until the feeling of anger made itself palpably clear to officials in person on Thursday.
Furious residents had accused the department of “treating them like imbeciles” as protesters chanted “wrong plan, wrong place,” before a parish council meeting in the village attended by several civil servants and managers from security firm Serco, ahead of the centre opening at the former RAF Linton-on-Ouse base near York on May 31.
The Home Secretary must listen to the concerns and, let’s be honest, fears that villagers and those living in the surrounding areas have about the plan – though not the far-right troublemakers who appear to be parachuting in to exploit the atmosphere of anxiety.
Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, might not have helped matters in Parliament this week when stating that the “vast majority” of 1,500 single men being put in a village of 600 people “will be law-abiding, but some will not”.
Critical to the heart of this issue are the asylum seekers themselves, some of whom could find themselves flown to Rwanda.
The Home Office has handled this terribly. The least its department leader could do is step up to face locals and hear their views.