Essex locals resent government plan to house asylum seeking men at MoD facility | UK News

At a former air force base in a rural corner of Essex, it’s been a busy week.

Trees have been cut down, barricades erected and windows replaced in unused housing estates.

For residents living nearby, it’s proof that the rumors are true… MDP Wethersfield near Braintree, Essex, is about to become home to 1,500 asylum seekers, all of whom are men.

Tony Clarke-Holland, who has lived next door to the site for 25 years, said: “We’ve been told no decisions have been made, but we can clearly see what’s going on.

“We ask questions and we are struggling. We have no communication, so we are not prepared.

“It’s really about the impact of services… doctors, dentists, police, all that. How will it work? We just don’t know.”

MDP Wethersfield
Local resident Tony Clarke-Holland

The first discussion about the site being used began a few weeks ago, and there was even talk of it happening as soon as April 1.

It is currently home to the Ministry of Public Security of the Ministry of Defense, which will be relocated, as well as a number of military families who will eventually be resettled.

‘Absolutely terrible’

Simone Sutcliffe has lived near the old base for 41 years and described the prospect of it being used as a shelter for asylum seekers as “absolutely horrible”.

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“The women on the base – the wives of the army – were terrified. The men would wander everywhere,” she said.

“They’ll be stuck in the middle of nowhere, which isn’t fair to them either. I really sympathize with them.”

The old airport is surrounded by fields and is accessed only by narrow country roads with no sidewalks. The nearest village is more than a mile away.

MDP Wethersfield
MDP Wethersfield

‘Solve the backlog first’

Braintree County Council said it strongly believes the site is not suitable, adding that the Home Office continues to indicate that it has not made any decisions.

Concerns are similar in the communities living 130 miles north at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire – the former home of the Red Arrows and formerly the famous Dambusters.

MDP Wethersfield

The local council only approved an agreement to develop the 800-acre site earlier this month as talks began about asylum seekers staying there.

Daniel Sohege, director of human rights group Stand for All, believes the government’s priority should be to deal with the backlog of asylum applications.

MDP Wethersfield

He said: “Instead of spending hundreds of millions of pounds on these types of camps and unsuitable areas, the government needs to look to ensure that people are processed through the system more quickly, so they can get started. rebuild your life”.

Government bid to clear hotel

It is understood that the original bases will be kept for new arrivals, although it is thought the idea is part of a government plan to move asylum seekers out of some 400 hotels. currently in use.

Calculations show that a total of 3,000 men will be accommodated in Scampton and Wetherfield.

But much more has come in small boats this year.

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Asylum seekers: ‘A blasphemous act’

The government says the pressure on the asylum system is unprecedented and it is committed to working with local authorities and key stakeholders.

But those who live near former air bases clearly feel they are being kept in the dark.

It can be a heated meeting as residents gather in the nearby village of Wethersfield to discuss their concerns on Sunday afternoon.


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