‘An act of sacrilege’: Anger at government plan to house asylum seekers at historic RAF Scampton | UK News
A government plan to place asylum seekers in temporary residences at a Royal Air Force base in Lincolnshire is facing opposition from locals, politicians and historians.
Around 1,500 asylum seekers could be housed in the now disused RAF Scampton.
The airfield, which closed last year, is the former home of the Red Arrows and Dambusters aerobatic team – the squadron that carried out one of the most famous air raids of World War II .
The government’s plan could see the scrapping of a £300million deal by West Lindsey District Council to turn the base into a heritage site.
The news angered residents like Sarah and Paul Carter, who live opposite the base and had planned to open a cafe next door to coincide with council plans.
“If the government actually came to visit the camp, they would see that this is a ridiculous idea,” Ms Carter said.
“We don’t have the infrastructure to support these people who arrive in times of crisis.
“We have a £300million investment for the region and the government is putting it at risk.”
This is a personal matter to her husband – Mr Carter served in the RAF for 22 years and has lived in the area for 28.
He called the decision “disgusting”.
“I think RAF Scampton is probably the most famous airbase.
“It will be a sacrilegious act to lose this,” he added.
Local opposition to the plan also included a petition started by Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Lincoln, Hamish Falconer, which reached over 40,000 signatures.
More than 40 historians, who are against the proposal, wrote an open letter expressing their displeasure. The group, led by Tom Holland, also includes Dan Snow and Al Murray.
They wrote: “Erasing Scampton’s legacy, rather than preserving, protecting and enhancing it further, would be an outrageous desecration of immeasurable recklessness.”
Sir Edward Leigh, the MP for Gainsborough, the Tory constituency where RAF Scampton is based, is also against the plans.
He had “numerous” meetings with Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick.
Sir Edward, MP for the area since 1983, believes the government has already made up its mind.
“The reason they made up their minds is that every time they try to go to a private site, there’s an injunction, there’s a mass campaign and the private sector pulls out, when it’s a base that they have,” he explained.
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A government spokesperson said: “We have always been candid about the unprecedented pressure on our asylum system, caused by a significant increase in dangerous and illegal travel into the country.
“We continue to work within government and with local authorities to identify a range of accommodation options.