'Abandon Linton-on-Ouse asylum centre plan', urges Conservative MP

Plans to transform a former airbase in a quiet village into an open asylum centre for 1,500 men aged between 18 and 40 should be dropped, an MP told residents today.

Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, said the Home Office should find 'somewhere more suitable' as its plans for the former RAF base, at Linton-on-Ouse, near York, went against its own guidelines.

Mr Hollinrake said: "There are huge concerns around this. These are young men aged 18 to 40 and it is going to change the whole nature of the village. It is simply unfair, it is simply wrong and it has to be stopped."

There are about 1,000 residents in the small village and at a public meeting on Saturday afternoon they spoke of their fears and anger regarding the plan.

Villagers queued down the street to attend the meeting in the small village hall.

One woman told the meeting she had not been sleeping because she was so anxious for her safety and asked if other women in the village felt the same.

Police and councillors told residents they had only found out about the plan last week.

Zoe Metcalfe, North Yorkshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, told residents: "Your safety is my priority," as she said she would try to get the force extra resources to deal with concerns over security in the village.

The plan was announced last week as part of a series of immigration measures but both residents and local officials claimed there had been no consultation.

Initially, 500 single male asylum seekers, mainly from countries such as Eritrea, Syria, Iran and Iraq, will be housed in Linton while their asylum applications are processed.

A spokesman for the Home Office said: "The asylum reception centre at Linton, North Yorkshire, is one of our many sites which will provide safe and self-sufficient accommodation for asylum seekers including provisions for healthcare, faith and other activities.

"Services onsite will minimise the impact on those provided to the local community.

“Anyone accommodated at Linton will have undergone a robust screening process, and the Home Office is committed to working closely with the local community to ensure the site operates safely and securely.”