Priti Patel was accused of ‘dropping a bomb’ on rural Yorkshire last night after villagers learned they face being outnumbered by young male asylum seekers.
Residents in the 1,000-strong community of Linton-on-Ouse, near York, are seething after discovering their disused RAF airbase will soon house 1,500 young men seeking refuge in Britain, mostly from Iraq, Iran and Syria.
At a heated parish council meeting on Thursday, they said house prices in the area had already crashed, with some homeowners being pushed into negative equity and unable to move out.
Some 120 villagers voiced their frustration in a showdown with senior Home Office officials over the scheme – saying they were not consulted about the plans before they were announced last week.
They were stunned to be told the new processing centre will accommodate 1,500 young men – and possibly more if refugees continue to cross the Channel in unprecedented numbers.
Hambleton District Councillor Martin Taylor said the impact of the influx would also be felt in surrounding rural communities.
He told the Home Office team, led by Phil Riley, the Home Office’s director of immigration detention and escorting services: ‘You have dropped a bomb on this village and the wider community and its totally unacceptable.’
Villagers in Linton-on-Ouse are seething that they were not consulted about plans to accommodate asylum seekers at a decommissioned airbase in the middle of the village before the announcement last week. (Village seen right while left, the disused RAF airbase)
Villagers were stunned to be told the new processing centre will accommodate 1,500 asylum seekers (Pictured: Migrants arriving at Dover this week)
Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured) was accused of ‘dropping a bomb’ on Linton-on-Ouse
He pledged to consider every way of reversing the decision, including possibly funding a judicial review, but Hambleton Council would first need to look at the facts.
‘We have been ambushed – just like you,’ he told the meeting.
Locals also felt powerless to move out, as local house prices were already collapsing.
One woman stormed: ‘Nobody is going to buy anything around here. It sounds like a done deal – and it’s an absolute disgrace.’
Home Office bigwigs also made clear that the refugees will be free to come and go provided they observe a nightly curfew.
They admitted there was nothing to stop them getting on a bus and disappearing – although they could do that now from bed and breakfast accommodation and it would wreck their asylum hopes.
But Patel’s team could do nothing to allay some residents’ fears over safety.
The three-hour meeting was punctuated by jeers, groans, and shouting as the residents vented their frustration.
One woman told the crowd: ‘I have lived in an area of Hull where these people were being housed and it got to the point where you dare not go out on your own.
‘People were raped. People were attacked.’
While the officials assured her that her fears were unfounded, they were shared by many others present.
Another resident exclaimed: ‘As a female, I’m scared. We do not know what is going to happen. You can get CCTV but by then it is too late – it has already happened.’
One father protested: ‘I moved here six months ago for a quite family life. I have got a four-year-old boy and a baby eight weeks old.
MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake (pictured) has spoken out against the plan
In a tweet on Wednesday (pictured), Mr Hollinrake said he had demanded the asylum seeker plan in Linton-on-Ouse be reversed in a letter to Priti Patel
‘We moved here for the village life. Now my family is going to be prisoners in their own home while everyone else can roam about doing what they like.’
At present, the village is policed by a community policing team. North Yorkshire Police will beef up cover but insist they must adopt a measured approach and see what problems occur.
Villagers emerged from the meeting saying nothing had been said during the three hours that had reassured them in any way whatsoever.
Homeowner Greg Cox, 47, said: ‘It is just little things we will lose out – like walking the dogs. They have sent the monkeys to answer the questions rather than the organ grinder.
‘The average age in the village is about 40. There is nowt here. They have depended on the air base for the economy.’
A record 28,395 migrants reached the UK illegally last year by taking small boats across the Channel, a 200 per cent increase on 2020’s tally
Resident Steve Krebs, 64, said: ‘They are going to drive straight through the fences and cause mayhem. I have lived in the village five years and only saw police once when some power lines blew down.’
Taff Morgan, 67, said: ‘What’s at stake is our way of life in the village. The Home Office need to got back and say ‘We have made a mistake’.’
‘The Home Office has no control over coming here. They don’t know who the hell they are. They are going to find out later – when it is too late.
‘We have had weasel words from those in power. I am not racist. But this is just so wrong for this village. It is incredible how they have done this.’
Karen Cox, 51, said: ‘We are losing our freedom by them coming here. It just feels so underhand how they have gone about it.
‘Why can’t they send someone here who can answer our questions? Why don’t they send Priti Patel?’
In a tweet on Wednesday local MP Kevin Hollinrake said he had demanded the asylum seeker plan be reversed in a letter to Priti Patel.