1500 single men set to be housed in refugee centre in Linton on Ouse as MP urges Government to reverse decision

The proposed refugee processing site in Linton-on-Ouse is set to be “an open camp in the heart of a small rural village” of 1,500 single men, according to a Conservative MP who has urged the Home Secretary to cancel its planned opening in six weeks’ time.

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, has urged Priti Patel to backtrack on opening the centre at the former RAF base in the village, some 10 miles from York.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson doubled down on his battle with the Archbishops of York and Canterbury over their criticism of plans to fly asylum seekers to Rwanda.

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Last week, Mr Hollinrake said: “It is important to note these claims must be processed somewhere and in a humane and managed manner” and welcomed plans for 300 jobs associated with the new centre in Linton-on-Ouse.

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But yesterday he told Priti Patel that he does not believe the village, which has 1,200 residents, to be the appropriate place for the processing centre.

Men living in the centre will be free to come and go as they please according to the Home Office, although they will be expected to stay there overnight.

A Home Office official said yesterday that it would be up to individuals staying at the centre to decide how they spend their time.

Men living in the centre will be free to come and go as they please according to the Home Office, although they will be expected to stay there overnight.

In a letter to Priti Patel, Mr Hollinrake wrote: “I do not object to this facility in this constituency to ‘not in my back yard’ grounds or a lack of compassion for those in need.

“However, the Home Office guidance on suitability of location for asylum seekers is quite clear.

“We have to acknowledge that whilst most asylum seekers of any demographic will be decent and law abiding, in a population of up to 1,500 young single men, there are bound to be some who are not. There is virtually no police presence in the village.”

“I can understand that in some ways a large, redundant airbase might be seen as a useful opportunity to house such a facility.

“Perhaps if there were a much lower number and these were families, possibly including some of those seeking refuge from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it would be different.

“However, the current proposal of 1,500 young men in an open camp in the heart of a small rural village is not workable, sustainable, or acceptable.

“It simply cannot be that the availability of a site dictates the appropriateness of its location.”

Mr Hollinrake has invited Home Office ministers and officials to meet with him this weekend to be shown the site.

In response, the Home Office pointed to a memo which said up to 500 men could arrive at the centre initially and that the decision will create new jobs and bring new investment into the area. They gave no further comment.