Home Secretary comes under fire for plans to house 2000 migrants in disused RAF base

Plans to house thousands of asylum seekers in a disused 800 acre RAF Base at Scampton, Lincolnshire, have been the centre of focus for a series of far-right protests in the last few months. If the plans go ahead, the historic base, which was once the home for the famous Hurricane bomber planes, which flew over Germany in the Dam Buster Raids, will see its first wave of migrants coming from the Muslim majority countries of Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran this summer.  Nearby residents have admitted to being stirred by the ‘stop the boat’ rhetoric on migration coming from the cabinet office.  The Home Secretary is facing pressure to back down over the plans in the face of an alternative £300 million development plan for the site.

Many have joined protest groups determined to restore the historical heritage of the site, as they cautiously express concerns that to some may be construed as fuelled by unwarranted prejudice.  

Far-Right groups are simply jumping on the band wagon

Sarah Carter – a local resident and a campaigner for ‘Save our Scampton’ distanced herself from those she referred to as ‘outsiders’ – the far right groups who she claimed were simply trying to ‘jump on the band wagon’. Speaking to Channel 4 news, she voiced anxieties shared by other residents about the prospect that the base will house mainly vulnerable young men who will be visible from the windows of nearby homes and who have arrived here with different values to theirs. People she said who will be living effectively cheek by jowl with a tight knit local community of families and nearby primary schools. When asked what she meant by ‘different values’, she exclaimed:

Locals worried about Muslim values of migrants

‘A lot of the women are stay at home mums, they are at home all day and then you’ve got the prospect of 2000 men that maybe have different values to us and also don’t have any money…it’s a case of they see that mainly women have a different role and are classed differently in societies there, then they are here – maybe the way they dress and the way they’re treated. So I think it is a concern.’

Ms. Carter did however recognise that maybe her fears and concerns have been fuelled by government rhetoric and the media and has taken the trouble to meet with refugee groups to better understand them. Sadly, her own progressive stance is not shared by all, especially the far-right groups who have paraded outside the air base with banners sporting the unwelcoming words ‘We Should House Our Homeless First’ and ‘England for the English’.

Government reveals plans to prioritise British nationals over Asylum seekers

Remarkably, in the Sunday Times this weekend as if on cue, the government leaked plans that it intends to prioritise British citizens seeking council houses over those who have come here to seek asylum. This will be a dramatic shift from current policy, which guarantees refugees, migrants with visas, and those who arrive here on so called legal routes, to be automatically eligible to obtain priority on the council-housing list.

It would seem that the government after revelations last month by the Office For National Statistics, that it has dismally failed in its targets to reduce migration, is now keen to demonstrate that it has not taken its foot off the pedal. Earlier this month the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that he had ordered two more barges to house asylum seekers. Just last week the Home Office distributed a letter to many of the circa 140,000 asylum seekers who form part of the backlog and are currently in the queue for processing, stating that all those who are from Sudan, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Libya, Syria and Yemen will effectively be fast tracked under a new scheme which simply requires them to complete a short questionnaire, which once validated and refugee status confirmed, will grant them permission to stay for a period of five years after which they can apply for settlement.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announces the expansion of his fleet of asylum seeker barges

‘These are fellow human beings like you and I, who deserve to be shown compassion, not warehoused in vast military sites’

Enver Solomon, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council when asked about the plans for housing migrants in the RAF air base said:

These kind of ex-military bases are simply going to result in large numbers of very vulnerable people – some of whom would have experienced torture, a high degree of trauma, will be suffering from stress, post traumatic stress disorder in some cases, warehousing them in a vast site is just wholly inappropriate and I think defies common sense and defies demonstrating dignity and humanity and compassion to individuals… What’s happened in previous sites is that there have been outbreaks of health issues, diseases spreading, a lack of facilities, lack of mental health support with people being very isolated and unable to legally access services and consequently I have a low level of trust in the government’s assurances.

He added:

The government should accept that these are fellow human beings like you and I. This is not what we did with Ukrainians. With the Ukrainians, we looked at a very different approach and there is no reason why we shouldn’t be housing people in the community and recognising them as fellow human beings who deserve to be shown compassion. Not warehoused on vast military sites.’


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