Human rights campaigners oppose plan to house 1,500 asylum seekers in Linton-on-Ouse
Human rights campaigners have added their opposition to controversial plans for a huge asylum seeker holding facility in a small North Yorkshire village – as residents raise fears that it is affecting the local housing market.
Ministers want to turn the former RAF base in Linton-On-Ouse into an asylum reception site, as part of measures which will also see asylum seekers deported to Rwanda.
It would mean up to 1,500 people – mainly men – could move into a village which currently has a population of around 700.
There have been major objections from residents and the local MP, as well as threats of legal action from Hambleton District Council.
Pensioners Maureen and Mick Stringer, who have lived in the village for 17 years, were due to move house to be closer to family.
But they say the sale of their bungalow fell through after the plans for the centre were announced.
Mrs Stringer, 75, said: "We are just in limbo... we can't move because we can't get a buyer because of what's going on... what may happen or may not happen, we don't know but people are worried. People don't want to move into an area that's got this going on."
Maureen Stringer speaks to ITV News reporter Jon Hill
Local parish councillor Marc Goddard dismissed any suggestions that objections were being driven by prejudice.
He said: "It's absolutely ridiculous. There is no nimbyism, we've had a relationship with the MOD and an RAF base within our village and racism plays absolutely no part in what the villagers feel."
And the plans have come in for further criticism from human rights campaigners. Detention Action, which supports people in immigration detention, said the government was depriving asylum seekers of their freedom.
Deputy director James Wilson said: "The kindness that so many people in this country have shown to refugees, from places like Ukraine and Syria, stands in stark contrast to the coldness shown by his government.
"It's cruel and costly for this Government to deprive people seeking asylum of their freedom, especially when there are less harmful, affordable alternatives that would allow people to rebuild their lives in our communities."
Councillors met with Home Office officials on Thursday, 12 May to voice their concerns.
The Home Office said the centre would provide "safe and self-sufficient" accommodation.
In a statement it said: "Services on-site will minimise the impact on those provided to the local community. Anyone accommodated at Linton-on-Ouse will have undergone a robust screening process."
It added that officials would work closely with the community to ensure the site is safe and secure.