UK delays plans to create ‘Yorkshire Guantanamo’

Officials say move has not been signed off by ministers

Campaigners in Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire, protest against Home Office plans to move 1,500 asylum seekers into their village. PA
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The UK has delayed plans to create an asylum centre that was due to open this week.

The move comes as the local council issued a pre-action legal letter over not being consulted on the plans to build the centre, whose critics have called it Yorkshire Guantanamo.

The Home Office had announced it was going to move 1,500 asylum seekers into the northern England village of Linton-on-Ouse this week, but officials have revealed “no decision” has yet made.

This is despite officials previously saying plans for the project were going ahead.

The Home Office announced on Tuesday that it had begun formally notifying migrants of their removal to Rwanda, with the first deportation flight expected to depart in two weeks.

The government described the move as the “final administrative step” in its partnership with the east African nation.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said it was expected that “attempts will now be made to frustrate the process and delay removals”, but said she “will not be deterred” in her plans.

The Home Office said it started issuing “notices of intent” earlier this month, informing some individuals they were “in scope for relocation”.

The removal directions confirm to people that they are being sent to Rwanda, and when, with the first flight expected to depart on June 14.

Discussions to accommodate asylum seekers at Yorkshire's RAF Linton are continuing, Emma Haddad, director general of the Home Office's Asylum and Protection department, revealed in a letter to Justin Ives, chief executive of Hambleton District Council.

“I can confirm that no final decision has been taken by ministers to accommodate asylum seekers at RAF Linton,” the Home Office letter said, The Yorkshire Post reported.

“Analysis and consideration of whether or not to accommodate asylum seekers at RAF Linton is ongoing.

“As a result, I am not in a position to share with you any further finalised evidence, impact assessments or timelines.”

More than 1,500 single men seeking asylum could be housed in the former RAF base in the village, where Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, trained.

Councillor Darryl Smalley labelled the programme “Guantanamo-on-Ouse” and demanded the government backtrack, calling it “ill thought out”.

Thousands of people have complained about the project and local police force have been carrying out daily patrols to reassure residents.

“People do not feel safe. I think those fears are rational. They are not irrational fears,” MP for Thirsk and Malton Kevin Hollinrake said.

“In any cohort of 1,500 young single men, there will be some who do not play by the rules.”

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

Updated: May 31, 2022, 6:45 PM