Controversial plan to house asylum seekers in former RAF base causes outcry from residents and veterans - ‘House homeless veterans ‘

Controversial plan to house asylum seekers in former RAF base causes outcry from residents and veterans – ‘House homeless veterans ‘

Home Secretary Suella Braverman is facing criticism as the UK’s migrant crisis is estimated to cost the taxpayer almost £6 million a day to accommodate around 45,000 asylum seekers in hotels.

In an attempt to end hotel use, the Home Office has published details of a £70 million contract to house asylum seekers in accommodation centres, with MDP Wethersfield being considered as one of the options.

However, campaigners have highlighted several factors that make the site inappropriate to house migrants, and residents of the surrounding area are angry.

Robert Cameron, who worked on the base in the 1990s for the MoD police, said: “Having 1,500 asylum seekers would double, if not triple the traffic in the surrounding quaint Essex villages. The infrastructure just is not there.”

Former servicemen in the nearby historic garrison town of Colchester argued that veterans should be given first refusal to any renovated accommodation on the former RAF site.

Brigadier Anthony Cauler said: “If there are [homeless veterans] then obviously Wethersfield would be a good place to put them.” Another private, who wished not to be named, said many ex-servicemen felt “neglected” by the plans.

He added: “They think more of these people [asylum seekers] than our own people.”

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood said that accommodation for service personnel was just as important as training and equipment, but shared the views of several other Tory MPs that the migrant crisis was “separate” to the issue of military housing.

Mr Ellwood said: “There should be specialist housing to place them as they’re processed and there are former military bases that are better suited to this process.”

Campaigners from the Fields Association have written to Defence Secretary Ben Wallace urging him to intervene with the Home Office to prevent any accommodation centre plans from going ahead.

They echoed the concerns of others, arguing the former RAF base is “almost like a detention centre”.

Beverley Ault, who is the temporary chair of the group, told the Daily Express that the conditions on the site are so inhospitable, they border on “inhumane”.

Sources said to be employed on the Wethersfield base have told the campaigning group that the Home Office plans to use the site to process asylum seekers before they are deported to a third country, under the Government’s new illegal migration legislation launched today.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We have always been upfront about the unprecedented pressure being put on our asylum system, brought about by a significant increase in dangerous and illegal journeys into the country. We continue to work across government and with local authorities to look at a range of accommodation options and sites, but the best way to relieve these pressures is to stop the boats in the first place.”

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