Asylum seekers will NOT now arrive before June - MP

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A gatden wall in Linton on Ouse displays villagers' opinion on the plans for an asylum seeker reception centre
A gatden wall in Linton on Ouse displays villagers' opinion on the plans for an asylum seeker reception centre

THE first asylum seekers will NOT now be moving into a new reception centre near York by next Tuesday, an MP has revealed.

Thirsk & Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake was told by Home Office officials earlier this month that an initial group of 60 asylum seekers were set to move into the former RAF Linton on Ouse base by the end of May, prior to the subsequent arrival of up to 1,500 men.

But he said yesterday that officials had now made it clear it no one would be arriving by May 31 because various things were not ready as yet, and he believed it was unlikely the asylum seekers would come next week, although he could not be sure.

The Tory MP said he would support a delay, as it was essential that facilities and services were fully prepared before anyone turned up, and he said North Yorkshire's Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoe Metcalfe had requested a delay of at least a month.

Home Office Minister Kevin Foster told the Commons earlier this week: "The final decision to place service users on the site will only be taken once the services are in place and we are clear it is safe and legal to do so."

Mr Hollinrake, who has been battling to block the plans altogether, supporting villagers in their argument that it's the 'wrong plan, wrong place,' revealed that he had once again raised the issue with Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the 1922 committee meeting on Wednesday, which had not just been held to discuss 'partygate.'

He said the Prime Minister had agreed to 'look at it again' and, while he did not feel this meant there would be a sudden change in Government policy, 'I am always hopeful.'

Meanwhile, Linton on Ouse Parish Council has said it is struggling to recover £200 from the Home Office towards the costs of hosting a visit by officials in April for discussions about the asylum centre plans.

It said the April parish council meeting was given over almost entirely to a Q&A session so that villagers could find out more about the plans directly from the Home Office, but some key figures couldn't attend in person, so the council hired equipment to enable them to dial in.

Chair Marc Goddard said: "We are a very small parish council, with a tiny annual budget which is added to the council tax paid by village residents.

"The village hall doesn’t have wifi, microphones or a large screen, so we had to very quickly hire the audio-visual kit for the Zoom call, and that cost us £470."

He said the Home Office had not yet made a financial contribution and had said it was ‘not proving a simple process’.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "After the parish council meeting in April, a request came to the Home Office to pay for overtime of the clerk and audio-visual equipment, which we are considering.

"We arranged equipment to be provided for the parish council meeting on 19 May to allow the local community to engage.”

 

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