Linton-on-Ouse asylum centre: Residents prepare for fight with Home Office as MP says 'NIMBYism' accusations are 'ludicrous'

Residents in Linton-on-Ouse have vowed to work against Home Office plans to open an asylum processing centre in the village - as the Government refused to confirm if other sites are being considered in the wake of a proposed legal challenge.

Hambleton District Council, backed by Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake, are understood to be taking advice from a QC on whether to mount an injunction against the proposed centre which was announced last month.

Up to 1500 single men could live at the centre on the disused RAF base in the centre of the village. They will have freedom to come and go as they wish, but with transport options limited, residents are worried of the impact on village safety, as well as the wellbeing of the asylum seekers.

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An injunction could delay the opening of the centre, which is earmarked to begin holding asylum seekers in June.

Up to 1500 single men could live at the centre on the disused RAF base in the centre of the village. They will have freedom to come and go as they wish, but with transport options limited, residents are worried of the impact on village safety, as well as the wellbeing of the asylum seekers.

Conservative Mr Hollinrake told the Yorkshire Post that government officials have indicated to him they are considering other sites.

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He said: “There’s every intention to take forward a legal challenge.

“It might take the form of an injunction. I’d like the Home Office to completely suspend any plans on the site until they’ve had a proper look and think again.

“That’s what I understand No 10 might be willing to do. There’s certainly a willingness to look at other sites again, and that’s what I’d like them to do.”

But when questioned, the Home Office would not answer if other sites are being actively considered - and would not give a date for the opening of the new centre.

Residents in the village, some ten miles outside of York, have formed a campaigning group against the opening of the new centre.

Some 150 villagers, including children, have written to Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel imploring them to cancel the opening amid safety concerns and worries about the impact on house prices.

One member of the group, who has lived in Linton-on-Ouse for five years, told the Yorkshire Post: “The kids can go down to the park on their own, and that’s going to have to stop.

“I feel like collateral damage. No one is listening, and no one is consulting from the Home Office.

“They’ve done nothing, and that’s quite reflective of the way we’ve seen this Government operate.

“Most of my life, I’ve been a Conservative voter and it really stings. That’ll change now.

“I’ve worked really hard to stretch myself to provide for my kids.

“But the one thing I want to make very clear is this isn’t some ‘not in my back yard’ thing.. I can’t see how 1500 young men parked in a rural part of North Yorkshire are going to assimilate into UK society, which they should be allowed to do especially given where they’ve come from.”

Concerns have also risen over a number of far-right activists who have descended on the village to protest in recent weeks.

Jessie Hunton, a villager who penned a letter to the Prime Minister, wrote: “The Home Office plan has already proved to have significant far-right interest. I do not believe that there will be sufficient infrastructure in place in the coming weeks to ensure the asylum-seekers’ safety from these extreme groups.”

Kevin Hollinrake has said it is “ludicrous” to suggest residents of Linton-on-Ouse who are concerned about a planned asylum processing centre are exhibiting ‘nimbyism’ behaviour.

The Home Office admitted last month that villagers had not been consulted on the plans before they were unveiled to the public, and North Yorkshire Police also confirmed they were unaware of the proposals before publication.

Some social media users have criticised villagers who have expressed concerns about their safety, using the term ‘nimby,’ which stands for ‘Not In My Back Yard.’

One Twitter user said residents should: “take your fair share and stop whinging,,” while another said: “The people of Linton on Ouse are happy to have economic migrants in our towns and cities but not on their doorstep.”

Kevin Hollinrake told the Yorkshire Post: “It’s a ludicrous accusation.

I’d object to this wherever it was, it was not the fact that it’s in the centre of one of my small villages, it’s just a totally inappropriate location for something like this.

Some 150 residents have joined the Linton-on-Ouse action group to campaign against the proposed site.

A spokesperson for the group said: “As a community of around 700 people, placing 1,500 additional people here will totally overwhelm our village – anyone can see that. This doesn’t make us NIMBYs, it’s just unworkable Asylum-seekers have done nothing wrong; all they’ve done is flee war, conflict or persecution – just as Ukrainian refugees have done. Now they have to live in what amounts to an open prison, in the middle of nowhere, with nothing to do and with a very uncertain future. It’s not a humane way to treat anyone.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The asylum reception centre at Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire, will help end our reliance on expensive hotels which are costing the taxpayer £4.7million a day, and we are engaging with local stakeholders about the use of the site.

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