Scampton campaigners still fighting one year on since asylum centre announcement

RAF Scampton residents campaigning against the Home Office’s proposed asylum centre say they are not backing down ahead of the one-year anniversary of the controversial project’s announcement.
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Friday, March 8, will mark a year since Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh stood in Parliament and disclosed the government’s plans to house up to 2,000 single male asylum seekers at the former home of the Dambusters near Lincoln.

To commemorate the anniversary, members of the Save Our Scampton campaign group, along with other local residents and members of the Great British Guardians, plan to host a gathering outside the main gate of the base from 9am.

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Despite a recent setback in the High Court, where West Lindsey District Council’s judicial review was unsuccessful, campaigners insist they are “still as determined as ever” to halt the development.

It has been one year since the controversial project for RAF Scampton was announcedIt has been one year since the controversial project for RAF Scampton was announced
It has been one year since the controversial project for RAF Scampton was announced

Sarah Carter, leader of the Save Our Scampton campaign group, said: “We want to broadcast to the country that we are not going anywhere. They [the Home Office] have lied to us, they have deceived us and we are not backing down.

“The fight isn’t over till the fat lady sings, and I ain’t singing yet.”

Mrs Carter later acknowledged that the Home Office is facing ongoing challenges with its asylum camp in Wethersfield, near Braintree, Essex, where migrants have reportedly gone on hunger strike due to poor conditions and notably low morale.

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West Lindsey District Council (WLDC) has announced plans for a second judicial review against the Home Office’s recently updated Environmental Impact Assessment, which suggests a timeline of up to three and a half years for the asylum camp.

“We are hoping that the legal fight will become a thorn in their side until they give up,” Sarah continued.

Scampton Councillor Roger Patterson (Conservative) has also assured that the council will challenge the Home Office’s impending Special Development Order (SDO) application, which would enable them to continue developing the site after the emergency planning powers expire in April.

“They [WLDC] are fighting it all the way,” Cllr Patterson said. “The Home Office have lied all the way along and still no one is there. I don’t believe a word they say.”

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The Conservative councillor highlighted the significance of the £300 million redevelopment by Scampton Holdings Ltd, suggesting that a compromise between the two parties might still be possible.

He pointed out that no recent work has been observed on the portacabins that were moved onto the site over the summer, leading to speculation that the government might now be planning to use only the existing buildings on the site.

However, he was clear: “We won’t give up the fight until the Home Office completely pulls out. The fight goes on.”

Recent documents from the Home Office indicate that the government could start relocating migrants to the site from April 14 onwards, although this is not confirmed.

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A statement from the Home Office reads: “Delivering accommodation on surplus military sites provides more orderly, suitable accommodation for those arriving in small boats while reducing the use of hotels.

“We understand the concerns of local communities and are liaising with councils and local services to manage the impact of using these sites on a temporary basis.

“We remain committed to working with key partners to facilitate their visions for Scampton in the future.”