Portable buildings arrive at RAF Scampton ahead of asylum-seeker plan
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The cabins were spotted late on Thursday afternoon by Scampton resident Sarah Carter, a campaigner from Save Our Scampton.
She said it was “not surprising”, having expected the temporary buildings to be put in earlier if the controversial plans had not been met with backlash from residents and campaigners.
However, she said: “It’s a bit disrespectful because we have this judicial review pending – what happens if we win it? Then they’ve got to take everything back off at taxpayers’ expense.”
She said: “Obviously it will get people in a panic because they’ll feel it’s all done, but that’s not the case.”
Up to 2,000 asylum seekers could move into the site, with the first group due to arrive in October, although the Home Office’s plan is under judicial review.
Ms Carter said she was still “stubborn” and would carry on fighting, adding there were still meetings due to take place with the Home Office.
Coun Roger Patterson, West Lindsey Council member for Scampton, suggested the cabins were more for workmen than asylum-seekers, as work begins to refurbish some of the buildings on site.
He hoped, however, the Home Office would continue to work with the council and its investor Scampton Holdings in order to enable investment on the site.
He said: “I’m still confident we’re going to win the court case, but if we do lose it, then at the end of the day if Scampton Holdings can get on to do the work it’s not all bleak. If the Home Office are willing to compromise, that might be the best thing we’ve got.”
Hamish Falconer, Labour parliamentary candidate for Lincoln, started a petition which has now attracted more than 75,000 signatures against the plans.
He said: “The Conservatives have just craned shipping containers straight onto one of the most valuable parts of the airfield.
“Despite assurances from the Prime Minister and Home Office that they care about our economy, they are wantonly trashing the industrial and aviation potential of Scampton.
“I’ve been talking to companies still keen to invest and create jobs here, but they need the airfield to remain intact, maintained and capable of being restored to operational status.”
Scampton Holdings, a stakeholder involved with West Lindsey’s £300 million investment and regeneration plans for the former airbase, has expressed deep disappointment over the lack of engagement and transparency from the Home Office regarding the installation of asylum seeker accommodation.
Tom Lear, Scampton Holdings director , said: “To be clear, if the Home Office inflicts damage to the airside facilities at Scampton, it will rapidly become cost prohibitive for Scampton Holdings, or any other party, to recover the airside at Scampton to a viable, useable standard, thereby rendering the aviation capability and significant economic opportunity defunct.”
The Home Office is looking to open “basic, safe, and secure” accommodation for asylum-seekers awaiting decisions on their claims at sites in Wethersfield in Essex and Scampton.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Delivering accommodation on surplus military sites will end the use of expensive hotels to house those arriving in small boats.”