Home Office accused of ‘disgraceful actions’ over Linton asylum plan
The proposed site at Linton.

A Conservative-led council has voiced fury after the Home Office announced it had moved forward plans to open a centre for asylum seekers on the edge of the Harrogate district.

A meeting of Hambleton District Council heard claims the Home Office had treated the residents of Linton-on-Ouse and the surrounding area with “complete contempt” by revealing that 60 people would be arriving at the centre in the isolated village from May 31, weeks earlier than it previously stated.

The centre will be just 10 miles from Boroughbridge and 13 miles from Knaresborough, and on the doorstep of Harrogate district villages such as Nun Monkton, Great Ouseburn and Green Hammerton.

Ministers have insisted the centre, at a former RAF training base, will “provide safe and self-sufficient accommodation”.

They say the centre, where Prince William trained as a pilot, will help end the Home Office’s reliance on expensive hotels, which are costing the taxpayer £4.7million a day.

The authority’s leader, Cllr Mark Robson, said during a meeting with the police and crime commissioner, Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake that the Home Office’s announcement had come as “a bit of a bombshell”.

He said:

“What we were told four to six weeks just before Easter has suddenly become two weeks time.

“I’m in no doubt about how much worry and concern there is in the local community and the surrounding areas about this proposal from government.”

He said the authority was working to get answers about the situation as quickly as it could. Cllr Robson the authority had appointed a legal team and was anticipating receiving advice imminently.

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The council leader said elected members and officers had been “in constant and robust dialogue” with the Home Office, and that the council was expecting a response to the council’s concerns later this week.

Cllr Robson said:

“We have, in the strongest possible terms, asked that the Home Office pause this proposal immediately to allow for consultation to be carried out and are awaiting the response to this ask.

“Officers and members continue to take part in multi-agency meetings and support and work closely with the local community and surrounding areas. Although frustrating and concerning, it is very important that what we do now doesn’t prejudice any outcome from the legal process.”

‘Goalposts have changes again’

Linton-on-Ouse Cllr Malcolm Taylor said while the community was looking for answers, there was now a “very tight window of opportunity” to take action. He said:

“The goalposts have been changed yet again by the Home Office and I think it is absolutely regrettable and disgraceful the way this Home Office has treated the residents not just of Linton-on-Ouse but the wider community and this council and everybody who is an interested party in this. We need to get answers and we need to get them very quickly.”

Local member Cllr Nigel Knapton added:

“They are playing games with us and it is absolutely disgraceful.”

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