RAF Scampton asylum centre hoped to be fully operational by Christmas
and live on Freeview channel 276
Residents expressed anger at the plans as four consultation sessions were held at Lincolnshire Showground’s Epic Centre, a short drive from the former airfield where 20 to 30 portable buildings have already been installed.
Attendance was tightly controlled, with only 100 people allowed per session from the former service family accommodation, or nearby villages of Scampton, Aisthorpe, Brattleby, Cammeringham and North Carlton.
Only about 30-35 people attended the first three morning and afternoon sessions, although the final one at 6pm was full.
The Press was excluded from the sessions, where residents heard for the first time about the Christmas target, although West Lindsey Council has expressed scepticism it is achievable.
The first wave of 50 migrants is expected to arrive by the end of this month, despite the plans still being under scrutiny – a judicial review from the council is set to be presented before the High Court in London on October 31 and November 1.
Sally Gringrod-Smith, council director of planning and regeneration, said: “Our view is there is a judicial review pending, they shouldn’t be developing the site.
“I am concerned about works to the listed buildings and we think it should wait until that judicial review has been determined.”
Speaking about the sessions, she said: “There’s not a lot new from my perspective. What they did say was getting everybody in before Christmas was an aspiration.
“We haven’t seen a plan for how that is achievable. They are still surveying on the site, they’ve been clear about that.”
During the proceedings, the Home Office also mentioned it is planning on holding more meetings for the wider community in the near future.
Paul Carter, from the Save Our Scampton campaign group, attended one of the meetings and expressed his security concerns to the Home Office representatives.
He said: “People are worried because we have a school and there is a bus stop. There’s also no street lights on the camp so in wintertime it’s going to be pitch black. They just turned around and said they can’t guarantee our safety.”
Other residents exiting the meeting appeared visibly frustrated.
Tina Staines said: “We’ve just gone through a cost-of-living crisis and asylum-seekers don’t have to worry about heating or eating.”
Another couple said: “We’re very disappointed. They are more concerned about the migrants than they are about the local residents.”
Grahame Barrass, from Doncaster, said outside the meetings: “Why did they even consider Scampton in the first place when they knew it had a £300 million investment scheme on? It’s out of order.”
The Home Office says that creating housing for asylum-seekers on the site will reduce the cost of housing them in hotels.
It said: “These accommodation sites house asylum seekers in basic, safe and secure accommodation as they await a decision on their claim.
“We understand the concerns of local communities and will work closely with councils and key partners to manage the impact of using these sites, including liaising with local police to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place.”