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Controversial plans for 1,500 asylum seekers to be housed in North Yorkshire village of Linton-on-Ouse are SCRAPPED by ministers
- Defence Secretary Ben Wallace ‘withdraws’ offer of disused RAF base in N Yorks.
- Home Office had planned to house up to 1,500 male asylum seekers on site
- Local residents of Linton-on-Ouse were furious at proposal for reception centre
Controversial plans for asylum seekers to be housed in a North Yorkshire village have been scrapped by ministers.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today confirmed he had ‘withdrawn’ an offer for a disused RAF base in Linton-on-Ouse to accomodate up to 1,500 male asylum seekers.
Local residents had expressed outrage at the plans when they were announced by the Home Office in April, with Hambleton District Council launching legal action against the proposal.
The use of Linton-on-Ouse to house people while their asylum claims are being processed was previously argued to be a key part of Home Secretary Priti Patel’s drive to clamp down on migrants crossing the Channel in small boats.
This includes her plan to send those who enter the UK illegally to Rwanda.
The Home Office also touted the creation of new asylum reception centres as a means of ending the Government’s use of hotels to accommodate those who enter the UK illegally, which is estimated to cost £4.7 million a day.
An alternative site to Linton-on-Ouse will now have to be found for a reception centre.
There had been warnings that the Home Office plans would be ‘effectively trebling’ the size of the village
Local residents had expressed outrage at the plans when they were announced by the Home Office in April
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace today confirmed he had ‘withdrawn’ an offer for a disused RAF base in Linton-on-Ouse to accomodate up to 1,500 male asylum seekers
Mr Wallace, who supports Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in the Tory leadership contest, was quizzed today about the future of the site.
He was asked about comments from ex-chancellor Rishi Sunak, Ms Truss’s rival in the battle to become the next prime minister, after he said he would ask the Home Office to find an alternative solution to using the site in Linton-on-Ouse.
The Defence Secretary said: ‘He didn’t oppose it when he was in Government, so that’s a new surprise.
‘I think because he’s not in Government he won’t know what’s been going on. I have withdrawn the offer to the Home Office for that site.
‘It’s been with them for a number of months. I have obligations to do something else with that site, and you know there are other sites we made available to the Home Office if they wish to take it up.’
Mr Wallace added: ‘I have withdrawn the offer of that site to the Home Office. It was one of, I think, five sites we offered at the time, when Rishi Sunak was in Government, and he was certainly supportive of it at the time.
‘He isn’t now, interestingly enough.’
After the announcement of the Linton-on-Ouse plans in April, the Home Office said ‘destitute single adult male asylum seekers who have their asylum applications under review’ would be housed at the site.
The department added there were ‘no proposals currently to accommodate families with children at the site’.
Under the plans, asylum seekers living at the site would have been ‘free to come and go but would be expected to be on site overnight’, although they would not have been subjet to a curfew.
Home Secretary Priti Patel will now have to find a new location for an asylum reception centre after Mr Wallace withdrew the offer to the Home Office
Ms Truss had earlier said she understood the proposed centre at Linton-on-Ouse was now ‘not going ahead’.
Asked about Mr Sunak’s pledge for a rethink over the North Yorkshire site, the Foreign Secretary replied: ‘My understanding from the Defence Secretary is that site is not going ahead.
‘So it’s a moot point because it won’t be going forward.’
Local MP Kevin Hollinrake has previously condemned the ‘disgraceful’ choice of Linton-on-Ouse for an asylum reception centre.
‘The village itself has 600 people, this is effectively trebling the size of the village,’ the Tory backbencher told GB News earlier this year.
‘1,500 young, single men from around the world who are there for up to six months can freely walk around that village.
‘You can understand the concern and indeed panic from people in that village.
‘It’s absolutely wrong that a single village should be sacrificed on the altar of a national policy priority, it’s simply wrong.’