A CONSERVATIVE-LED council has voiced fury after it the Home Office announced it had moved forward plans to open a centre for asylum seekers at a former RAF training base.

A meeting of Hambleton District Council heard claims the Home Office had treated the residents of Linton on Ouse and the surrounding area with “complete contempt” by revealing that 60 people would be arriving at the centre in the isolated village from May 31, weeks earlier than it previously stated.

Ministers have insisted the centre would “provide safe and self-sufficient accommodation”.

They say the centre, where Prince William trained as pilot, would help end the Home Office’s reliance on expensive hotels which are costing the taxpayer £4.7m a day.

The authority’s leader, Councillor Mark Robson, said the Home Office’s announcement, during a meeting with the police and crime commissioner, Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake and himself had come as “a bit of a bombshell”.

He said: “What we were told four to six weeks just before Easter has suddenly become two weeks’ time.

“I’m in no doubt about how much worry and concern there is in the local community and the surrounding areas about this proposal from government.”

He said the authority was working to get answers about the situation as quickly as it could. Coun Robson the authority had appointed a legal team and was anticipating receiving advice imminently.

The council leader said elected members and officers had been “in constant and robust dialogue” with the Home Office, and that the council was expecting a response to the council’s concerns later this week.

Cllr Robson said: “We have, in the strongest possible terms, asked that the Home Office pause this proposal immediately to allow for consultation to be carried out and are awaiting the response to this ask.

“Officers and members continue to take part in multi-agency meetings and support and work closely with the local community and surrounding areas. Although frustrating and concerning, it is very important that what we do now doesn’t prejudice any outcome from the legal process.”

Linton on Ouse ward councillor Malcolm Taylor said while the community was looking for answers, following the Home Office’s latest announcement, there was a “very tight window of opportunity” to take action.

He said: “The goalposts have been changed yet again by the Home Office and I think it is absolutely regrettable and disgraceful the way this Home Office has treated the residents not just of Linton on Ouse but the wider community and this coucil and everybody who is an interested party in this. We need to get answers and we need to get them very quickly.”

Local member Councillor Nigel Knapton added: “They are playing games with us and it is absolutely disgraceful.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The asylum reception centre at Linton-on-Ouse will help end our reliance on expensive hotels which are costing the taxpayer almost £5 million a day. We are engaging with local stakeholders about the use of the site.

“The New Plan for Immigration will fix this broken asylum system, allowing us to support those in genuine need while preventing abuse of the system and deterring illegal entry to the UK.”