Council approves vote of no confidence in Home Office over plans for former RAF base in North Yorkshire

A Conservative-led council has overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence in the Home Office’s “cack-handed” handling of plans to transform a former RAF base into a centre for 1,500 male asylum seekers.

The first act of the new North Yorkshire County Council saw strong cross-party support for the rebuke to the Government over its plans to move the non-detained young single males from different parts of the world to Linton-on-Ouse, an isolated rural village north of York.

In a highly unusual move, the council’s Conservative leadership threw its full support behind a notice of motion proposed by Independent group leader, Cllr Stuart Parsons, to denounce the Home Office’s actions, just a day after the Home Office had announced its intention to fast-track the proposal to open the centre on May 31.

The authority’s first full meeting saw councillors across the political spectrum line up to condemn the Home Office’s decision to go ahead with the centre without having consulted residents, even leaving North Yorkshire and Hambleton councils in the dark until recently.

The former RAF base at Linton-on-Ouse, near York.

The agreed statement read: “This council has no confidence in the Home Office in relation to action being undertaken in Linton-on-Ouse with regard to the resettlement of asylum seekers due to the lack of consultation of local communities and stakeholders.”

Cllr Parsons said the no confidence vote would send very strong messages both to the government and to communities that had been left fearful due to a lack of communication and information about how the centre would be managed.

He said: “Our most important function is to support our local residents and at the moment what is being proposed for those communities is not supporting them.

"I’m not criticising individuals, just the cack-handed way that this has been handled.”

The meeting heard how there was just 13 days before scores of asylum seekers would begin “descending on Linton-on-Ouse”, a village with a population of less than half the number of people the Home Office plans to house in a former RAF training base.

Councillors said they were being inundated with emails from women frightened at the prospect of having so many single men “wandering with nothing to do” in a village with few facilities and no street lights at night.

Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr Bryn Griffiths said it was difficult to see how the necessary support for the asylum seekers could be in place by the end of the month.

Cllr Arnold Warneken, whose division includes nearby villages, said: “The people of Linton on Ouse, the Ouseburns and the Dunsforths and neighbouring villages feel abandoned.

"We can’t turn our back on it simply because our Government has.”

Stronger communities executive member Cllr David Chance said much of the concerns related to the proposed residents of the centre being lone, male asylum seekers.

He said: “If there had been 1,500 Afghan or Ukrainian families I wouldn’t be too worried and I don’t think the people of Linton on Ouse would be that worried.

"The uncertainty they have got is that this is 1,500 single males.”