Anger protests are not something you want to associate with the beautiful North Yorkshire village of Linton-on-Ouse – until now.
Residents are frustrated and furious at the Interior Ministry’s announcement that the former RAF base will soon become an asylum reception center for up to 1,500 people.
Representatives from the Interior Ministry came to the village this week to attend a ward council meeting and meet questions from residents.
They were met with buh and shouts of “wrong plan, wrong place”, the phrase that has become the campaign slogan for those who are opposed to the scheme.
The village has a population of between six and seven hundred, with only four buses a day passing through it.
The RAF base has been here since 1937.
Originally home to part of the Bomber Command, it became a training center for all of the RAF’s fast jet pilots, including Prince William.
But in 2014, the base began to be wound up when training was moved to the RAF Valley in Anglesey.
So in 2020 it closed completely and MoD originally planned to sell the place in 2023.
But Interior Minister Priti Patel had other plans, and last month it was announced that it would become the temporary home of hundreds of asylum seekers.
They will be treated there before being moved on, potentially to Rwanda below controversial plans.
During the sometimes tumultuous meeting in the village hall, representatives of the Interior Ministry told the villagers that they wanted to “hear their concerns” and “work with them for the best result”.
The villagers were less than impressed, after suffering what they described as the “bomb” of figuring out the plans via the media.
“Do not treat us like idiots,” said one.
“We do not want to work with you, we want this stopped,” said another.
The local district council, Hambleton, says it is investigating the possibility of a legal challenge to the Home Office decision, and so are several people.
Local Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake is also bitterly opposed to the plan.
He raised the issue in the Prime Minister’s question earlier this week.
“What I was trying to do was keep the matter in the parliamentary eye line,” he explained.
“To ensure that the people responsible for this decision – which includes the Prime Minister – think about what they are doing because it is catastrophic.”
Dr. Olga Matthias, daughter of an immigrant father who fled the former Yugoslavia after the war, is one of those leading the protest campaign.
“It’s not about nimbyism,” she said.
“It’s about a totally inappropriate plan being imposed on a tiny village.
“A plan that Priti Patel has now made sure is not going to happen in her own constituency.”
“We are not privileged middle-class people moaning about property prices,” another protester said.
“Many of us here are working-class people who happen to live in a rural area.”
Another tells me that they are concerned about the impact on the local community and that the government should seek to protect its own citizens before worrying about others.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The asylum reception center in Linton-on-Ouse will help stop our dependence on expensive hotels, which cost taxpayers nearly £ 5 million a day.
“We are in dialogue with local stakeholders about the use of the site.
“The new immigration plan will rectify this broken asylum system, allowing us to support those in real need, while preventing abuse of the system and discouraging illegal entry into the UK.”
A number of charities working with refugees and asylum seekers are also against the plans.
Mary Brandon, from the Asylum Matters group, says: “We know that accommodation centers like these are extremely harmful to the people housed in them.
“They are devastating to people’s mental health, they end up being very isolated and feel like they are stuck in limbo and separated from the rest of society.”
Another charity, Ripon City of Sanctuary, also works to support refugees.
Now they are also providing advice to the Linton Action campaign group, which could result in further legal challenges.
Critics of the scheme claim that no one seems to want it except the Home Office.
Unless the government can be persuaded or forced to go back, the first batch of asylum seekers will arrive in Linton-on-Ouse by the end of this month.