Villagers push 'wrong plan, wrong place' message to overturn Britain's Rwanda proposal

Linton-on-Ouse in England is home to 1,000 people and 12km from nearest city

Campaigners outside Linton-on-Ouse village hall, where members of the parish council met to discuss a centre for asylum seekers. PA
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Residents in an English village are campaigning against becoming the eye in the storm of the government’s plan to deport failed asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Home Office officials were told “wrong plan, wrong place” when they visited Linton-on-Ouse this week.

The North Yorkshire village is home to about 1,000 people but it also has a disused RAF base, which the Home Office wants to turn into a reception centre for asylum seekers who could then be deported to Rwanda under its new plan.

Linton, about 13km from York, is supposed to become the halfway house for people arriving via the Channel, where officials will decide if people can stay or not.

“It's about a totally inappropriate plan being forced on a tiny village,” said Dr Olga Matthias, one of those leading the campaign to change the government’s mind.

“A plan that [Home Secretary] Priti Patel has now made sure isn't going to happen in her own constituency.”

The Home Office has said the site will contain cultural activities and leisure facilities, including a football pitch, a library and a cinema. PA

Local Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake raised the Rwanda plan during Prime Minister’s Questions earlier this week.

“What I was trying to do is keep the matter in the parliamentary eye line,” he said.

“To make sure the people who are responsible for this decision — which does include the prime minister — think about what they're doing because this is catastrophic.”

Asylum seekers who enter Britain by crossing the English Channel are the target of the government’s Rwanda plan. The government says it wants to reduce the record numbers taking the dangerous Channel route that also sees human traffickers making money off their misery.

The initiative is expected to bring more than 1,500 single men seeking asylum to the former RAF base, where Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge, trained.

Home Office officials were told “wrong plan, wrong place” when they visited Linton-on-Ouse this week. PA

French and English groups, who work with the English Channel refugees and asylum seekers, have criticised the plan, as has the UNHCR.

The Home Office said the site will contain cultural activities and leisure facilities, including a football pitch, a library, a cinema and healthcare.

They will be allowed to leave the site but will have a 10pm curfew.

The local district council, Hambleton, is looking at a legal challenge to the plans for Linton.

At a meeting this week one resident explained to the Home Office: “We don't want to work with you, we want this stopped.”

Updated: May 21, 2022, 12:49 PM
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