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Lincoln MP Karl McCartney speaks out against plans to house ‘at least 2,000’ asylum at RAF Scampton in House of Commons

Lincoln’s Conservative MP has spoken out against the Home Office’s RAF Scampton plan inside the House of Commons, prompting a trio of political party opinions on who is best placed to end this plan once and for all.

Member of Parliament for Lincoln Karl McCartney raised a point during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, asking for an update on the Home Office’s proposed plan to house asylum seekers at the former RAF Scampton base.

This plan derails Scampton Holdings Ltd’s £300 million proposal to turn the site into a heritage and education centre that celebrates its history as the birthplace of the Dambusters.

RAF Scampton roles have been on the agenda for Labour's Hamish Falconer (left), Conservative Karl McCartney (middle), and Liberal Democrat Cllr Matt Boles (right)
RAF Scampton roles have been on the agenda for Labour's Hamish Falconer (left), Conservative Karl McCartney (middle), and Liberal Democrat Cllr Matt Boles (right)

Male asylum seekers, largely from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, could move into the base as soon as April 14 according to Home Office documents, meaning the clock is ticking for plans to be reversed.

The Lincoln MP said in the House of Commons: “There is a plan for at least 2,000 single, young men who have come here illegally to soon be housed just three miles outside the centre of Lincoln at RAF Scampton, in my right honourable friend’s (Sir Edward Leigh MP) constituency of Gainsborough, if the Home Office ministers have their way.

“On top of the huge and rising costs, and recent advice from civil servants to Home Office ministers to can the plan, what reassurance can the Prime Minister and his Home Secretary give that Scampton will not replicate the scandalous instances in Cambridge, when 300 Libyan trainees were housed at RAF Bassingbourn in 2014?”

RAF Scampton. Credit: Google
RAF Scampton. Credit: Google

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Karl McCartney was “right to raise the concern of his constituents” and assured him that the government want asylum accommodation to have “as little impact as possible on the local community.”

“I understand the Home Office has put in place a number of measures,” the PM continued.

“Including a specialist security provider working on site 24/7, CCTV, and they are working with the local police as well.”

Police Crime Commissioner Marc Jones
Police Crime Commissioner Marc Jones

Mr Sunak’s claim of working with the police faces scrutiny, following confirmation from the previous Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police Chris Haward, and the Police & Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire Marc Jones, that the force is yet to receive £1.8 million of earmarked funding for the RAF Scampton site’s policing requirements.

The Prime Minister said the “only way to fully stop this happening” is to “stop the boats” before launching an attack on the opposition benches, claiming the Labour Party has blocked the government “every step of the way” in recent months.

Lincoln’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Labour at the next general election, Hamish Falconer, criticised the PM’s response as a “mumble about the Labour Party.”

“If you oppose the Home Office plan for Scampton, vote Labour, only we are committed to stopping it and getting the investment for the site,” he added.

But this statement faced criticism on social media from local Liberal Democrats, who pointed out that the Lib Dem-run West Lindsey District Council (WLDC) has participated in legal battles with the Home Office to try to reverse the decision.

Vice Chair of WLDC, Coun Matt Boles (Liberal Democrat), said: “Pretty sure the Lib Dems controlled West Lindsey District Council who are actively fighting this day in day out would disagree with you on that claim.”

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The local authority is in the process of launching a second legal battle after its initial Judicial Review defeat at the High Court last year.

They have not disclosed the amount of legal fees spent from taxpayers money.

With a General Election looming in 2024, the political parties are ramping up the pressure in a bid to convince constituents that they deserve the vote of the electorate.

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