Council begins legal challenge against government asylum centre plan for Linton-on-Ouse near York

Villagers voiced their concerns over the proposals during a public meeting on Saturday

A North Yorkshire local authority has started to mount a legal challenge against the government's plan to house 1,500 asylum seekers in Linton-on-Ouse.

Hambleton District Council says residents were not consulted on the decision to transform a disused RAF base into accommodation for males aged between 18 and 40.

Linton has a population of roughly 1,000 people, and at a public meeting on Saturday afternoon, 23 April, many spoke of their fears and anger regarding the plan.

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.

Watch Julia Breen's report from the meeting

Dr Justin Ives, Hambleton District Council’s Chief Executive has now announced the authority will fight to ensure the plan does not go ahead.  "We now understand from subsequent conversations this week, that the government has every intention of pressing ahead with the plans," he said.

"In response to this, Hambleton District Council has instructed lawyers to start work on mounting a legal challenge of the government’s decision. “As the local authority, we are extremely disappointed by the lack of consultation and involvement on this so far and have made this clear to government during our discussion," he continued.

"I know there are great concerns about this proposal and the lack of consultation, but we as a council are determined to take whatever course of action is required to secure the best possible outcome for our district."

The base has been empty since 2020, with the village becoming what was described as a "ghost town" as air force personnel moved out. Credit: MEN Media

The plan was announced earlier this month as part of a series of immigration measures, including plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda to have their claims processed.

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

The Linton site will be the first of these so-called "Greek-style reception centres" to be established.

While Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake initially appeared to defend the plans, saying "claims must be processed somewhere", he is now urging the Home Office to find "somewhere more suitable", saying its plans for the base go against its own guidelines.

"There are huge concerns around this," he told ITV News Tyne Tees. "These are young men aged 18 to 40, it's is going to change the whole nature of the village. It is simply unfair, it is simply wrong and it has to be stopped."

Responding to the council's statement, 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.

"We are consulting 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."