The Home Office says it is “confident” with its plans to house asylum seekers at RAF Scampton despite allegedly “breaching” stop notices placed at the site by West Lindsey District Council. Plans to house up to 2,000 male asylum seekers at the former RAF base are ongoing with no confirmed date of their arrival from the Home Office.
West Lindsey District Council (WLDC) says the alleged “unlawful development” is still taking place at the site, despite issuing legal stop notices. It said it has been “inundated” with people in the local community confirming the ongoing work which reportedly includes an increase in portacabins, refurbishment work to existing buildings and a gas supply confirmed to further support the portacabin development.
In response, the Home Office said it is aware of the stop notice issued by WLDC, and that it is “carefully considering” the implications of the notice. The government body also confirmed that WLDC will receive £3,500 for each occupied bedspace on the site.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Delivering accommodation on surplus military sites provides cheaper and more orderly, suitable accommodation for those arriving in small boats whilst helping to reduce the use of hotels.
“We are confident our project, which will house asylum seekers in basic, safe and secure accommodation, meets the planning requirements.” The decision to house the asylum seekers at the former home of The Dambusters will be challenged by WLDC and Braintree District Council at the High Court in London on October 31, 2023.
Councillor Trevor Young, leader of West Lindsey District Council, said: “It is clear from our most recent site visit that despite repeated assurances, the Home Office have breached the Stop Notice and continued with the unlawful development of the site at RAF Scampton.
“The Council continues to be inundated with intelligence from the community regarding daily activity and we cannot thank the community enough for their ongoing support through this difficult time. We have always been clear that the Home Office must not use RAF Scampton as a site to accommodate asylum seekers until the Judicial Review proceedings have completed.
“I reiterate that we are now merely two weeks away, surely the logical approach is to allow the justice system to do its job.” WLDC had secured a deal to regenerate the 800-acre site into a heritage centre before the the Home Office confirmed plans to house asylum seekers there.
The Home Office said it “recognises its responsibilities” to take steps to ensure the heritage assets at he site are protected and preserved, with security and operational management plans in place to support this. It also said it “understands the concerns” of the local community and is working with councils to manage the impact, including with Lincolnshire Police.
West Lindsey District Council’s director of planning, regeneration and communities Sally Grindrod-Smith said: “It has been an incredibly frustrating and worrying time for our community. We have had many messages from concerned residents reporting ongoing activity and seeking to understand why the council and the police are not taking further action to stop works on site.
“This is because the site is what is known as ‘Crown Land’. This means that it is owned by the Government and so a local council can not undertake physical enforcement action. The Home Office have not challenged the legality of the Stop Notice; however, it is clear they have not adhered to it.”
She added: “This week we have again written to the Home Office to reiterate that the Stop Notice prohibits RAF Scampton from housing asylum seekers until such time as the Stop Notice is withdrawn by the Council.”