A row has deepened over housing asylum seekers in a former RAF base once used by the Dambusters after anti-migrant protesters targeted the site.
West Lindsey District Council is preparing a legal bid to block the Government from using RAF Scampton to house migrants, which local politicians fear could scupper a £300m regeneration programme of the site.
But another row has broken out, with anti-migrant protesters targeting the site, raising fears of a repeat of violent scenes that have broken out at other military bases now used as asylum processing centres.
Local residents living next to the former military base in Lincolnshire were seen arguing with an activist filming at the site on Wednesday as the Government confirmed the facility, also once home to the Red Arrows, would help house several thousand migrants.
A fortnight ago two men, one holding a flag that read: “England for the English, stop the white genocide” and another shouting anti-migrant slurs, were ordered by military police to leave the base after filming themselves there.
On Wednesday, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick told the Commons asylum seekers would be taken to RAF Scampton as well as to a site in East Sussex and another former military base, MDP Wethersfield in Essex, where Braintree Council is preparing for a High Court injunction in a bid to halt the decision.
Councillor Roger Patterson is concerned Scampton could become a focal point for anti-migrant groups, who have previously sparked violence outside an asylum hotel in Merseyside and held rallies in the village of Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire, where plans to house migrants in a former RAF camp were scrapped.
“It’s absolutely disgusting. We just want them to stay away. They are out to stop all immigration which is not what this country wants,” Cllr Patterson told i.
“We get tarnished by these people and we have lost the argument. They take away everything we have got if they keep on coming up anywhere near us.
“I am concerned. We are not against immigrants. We don’t want these people around. They don’t speak to anyone except a very small minority of people.
“They are not wanted, they are parasites, they are just there to cause utter chaos. 99.9 per cent of people in this country aren’t like that.”
A recent public meeting to discuss the RAF Scampton migrant plan was “infiltrated” by somebody from the “far right” who was “shouted down” by local residents, he said.
Footage filmed by the two protesters a fortnight ago on the compound contained “absolutely disgusting” insults aimed at migrants, he added.
The Government’s plan had left families living on the base “absolutely outraged”, he added.
There are also concerns for those who will be housed at the site. The hundreds of migrants expected to be held at RAF Scampton would be placed in shipping container-type accommodation on the base’s runway, Councillor Richard Butroid told a recent meeting.
Hamish Falconer, Labour’s general election candidate for Lincoln, said: “I think trying to put 1,250 people on the hardstanding of the runway, in shipping containers, is almost certainly going to be inhumane.
“There’ll be rows and rows of shipping containers by a runway, in the middle of nowhere, where there’s only buses to Lincoln every few hours. The only services are a small costcutter intended for a population much smaller than this. There’s going to be absolutely nothing to do there.
“As a former prison officer who lives on RAF Scampton said, anybody whether they were boy scouts, or whoever – if you put 1,500 people together with nothing to do, behind a chain link fence, you’d expect them to be bored, for there to be trouble.”
Families living on the site, many of whom are serving or former members of the Armed Forces were “spitting mad” at the plans, Mr Falconer added.
“Furious doesn’t even begin to cover it. The whole of Lincoln and Scampton are furious, but for the families who live on the site, lots of them have made a conscious decision to stay there to be part of the £300m regeneration.
“Their lives have been put into utter turmoil. They have been treated appallingly.”
There are fears the £300m programme to redevelop the former RAF base could be torpedoed, with thousands of mooted jobs now at risk.
Under the plan, the Council would buy the base from the Home Office and, along with developers Scampton Holdings Ltd, to use the 800-acre site for heritage, tourism, education and research, with a hotel, shops and houses built.
Peter Hewitt, chairman of Scampton Holdings Limited, said: “All of this will be totally scuppered if the migrant plans go ahead.
”I think it’s verging on scandalous, quite frankly. In my view, it’s just nothing short of cultural and economic vandalism.
“This is an area that really needs this investment. You have the chancellor talking about this particular area in investment terms and needing regeneration and then the Home Office does this. It’s totally incomprehensible.”
Safety concerns would also see a plan to bring the Red Arrows back to Scampton as part of the programme torn up, he said.
Announcing the Government’s plan on Wednesday, Mr Jenrick said there would be a “significant” package of support for the area around RAF Scampton.
“Whilst this policy is without question in the national interest, we understand the impact and the concern that there will be within local communities,” he said, adding: “There will be significant package of support for his constituents. There will be specific protections for the unique heritage on the site.”
He added: “We do see this as a short-term arrangement, and we would like to enter into an agreement, as he knows, with West Lindsey District Council so that they can take possession of the site at a later date and their regeneration plans… can be realised in due course.”