Government says Linton-on-Ouse site is 'urgently needed' for asylum seeker centre after responding to legal threat

The Home Office has said it will press ahead with controversial plans to set up a centre for asylum seekers in a North Yorkshire village, after it responded to a potential legal challenge.

It wants to convert the old RAF base in Linton-on-Ouse into an asylum seeker processing centre for up to 1,500 men, despite a furious backlash from villagers.

Hambleton District Council has told the Home Office it is planning to take legal action and apply for a judicial review to halt the plan, and it sent the Government department a pre-action protocol letter last month.

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The letter stated the Home Office may have acted unlawfully by failing to follow the correct process, set out the impact the plans could have on the village, which is home to around 600 people, and ordered the Government department to justify the decision.

Villagers have been protesting against plans for an asylum seeker centre in Linton-on-OuseVillagers have been protesting against plans for an asylum seeker centre in Linton-on-Ouse
Villagers have been protesting against plans for an asylum seeker centre in Linton-on-Ouse

The Home Office responded with a letter on Tuesday evening and said it plans to press ahead with the plans. But no opening date has been revealed yet.

A spokeswoman said: “As we continue to work on the plan for the asylum reception centre at Linton-on-Ouse, which will be as self-sufficient as possible, we continue to listen to community feedback.

“We maintain the site is urgently needed to provide essential asylum accommodation and will assist as we end the use of asylum seekers using hotels, which are costing the taxpayer almost £5m a day.

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“Our New Plan for Immigration will fix the UK’s broken asylum system, allowing us to support those in genuine need while preventing abuse of the system and deterring illegal entry to the UK.”

Under the current plans, the centre will house single adult men, while their asylum claims are processed, and they will not be detained there but will be expected to stay on site overnight.

The Home Office said a number of facilities will be provided, so the men can shop, exercise, pray and receive healthcare at the centre.

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton, has said he is trying to convince the Government to drop these “crazy” proposals, which have not been signed off by Ministers yet.

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But when he raised the issue with Home Secretary Priti Patel in the House of Commons earlier this month, she said processing centres “are the right way forward” and are being set up in other countries with EU funding.

“We have to have the right provisions and facilities within these reception centres and that’s exactly what we are working to achieve,” she added.

The Government has previously said the old RAF base in Linton-on-Ouse is a viable location because it provides accommodation and facilities which are in a reasonable condition.

In a statement, the Home Office said: “We have a legal obligation to provide destitute asylum seekers with accommodation.

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“We are committed to securing the welfare of asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute and keep our processes under constant review.

“The proposals currently under investigation for Linton-on-Ouse are to provide safe, secure and fit for purpose accommodation.”