Council leader calls for ‘proper’ consultation for former RAF base after Home Office officially confirms it will not be used for asylum seekers

A former Royal Air Force station, RAF Linton-on-Ouse is pictured in the village of Linton-on-Ouse, near York in northern England Photo by OLI SCARFF / AFP

In August Defense Secretary Ben Wallace announced he had withdrawn the Linton-on-Ouse site’s offer to the Home Office to house up to 1,500 asylum seekers aged 18 at 40, after a four-month battle waged by militants.

Official confirmation of the Home Office’s decision not to move forward with the proposals was only received by Hambleton District Council late last week.

This decision allows them to resign lawyers who would have sought to mount a legal challenge if the decision had been made the other way.

Mark Robson pictured at Thirsk Market Place….19th November 2018..Photo by Simon Hulme

Council leader Mark Robson hailed the ‘common sense’ decision and there is now expected to be consultation over the future of the 240-hectare site, which could be used for anything from housing to a farm solar.

He said he would prefer to see it continue as an RAF base.

A working group, including Hambleton planners, is due to meet in November to discuss the options, with residents, councilors and the MP involved at a later stage in discussions.

However, he said cynics already feared a local decision could be taken out of their hands following changes proposed in the Government’s Leveling Bill, which has yet to receive second reading.

He said: ‘There are a couple of conditions there which would basically mean Crown or government land would be exempt from planning.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) began closing the base in 2020, following the transfer of pilot training to RAF Valley in Anglesey, with only a handful of servicemen remaining there.

Councilor Robson said he understood the site had to be used or phased out by 2024.

He said: “It would be nice to see it again as an RAF base – at the end of the day all the facilities are there. It has a modern control tower, the old one was only replaced about six years ago.

“When it was an active base, it brought growth to the local economy. What happens in the future needs proper consultation – the problem was there was no consultation.

“The argument could be that if there was a massive housing development, how would the roads and infrastructure deal with it?

“I used the phrase in April: ‘You have to be careful what you wish for’.”

The idea of ​​using the facility for asylum seekers was put forward by former Home Secretary Priti Patel and backed by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson as a key part of their plan to immigration, which included the idea of ​​sending asylum seekers to live in Rwanda rather than allowing them to stay in the UK.

The number of migrants crossing the Channel continues to rise despite the alleged deterrent.

Provisional figures from the MOD last month said that so far 28,561 people had reached the UK in small boats. Last year’s total was 28,526, according to official figures.

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