BRAINTREE Council has said it is "extremely disappointing" after it was announced today the Government is planning to house asylum seekers at the RAF Wethersfield airfield.

The plans were revealed today by Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick, who confirmed plans to house “several thousand” asylum seekers at former military bases in Essex and Lincolnshire and a site in East Sussex.

Mr Jenrick confirmed RAF Wethersfield in Essex and RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire will house migrants, despite threats of judicial challenges from Tories in the areas.

Braintree and Witham Times: An aerial view of RAF Wethersfield in EssexAn aerial view of RAF Wethersfield in Essex (Image: PA)

A separate site on private land in Bexhill, East Sussex, will also be used.

In the Commons, both mid Essex MPs James Cleverly and Priti Patel spoke on their disappointment.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly acknowledged the decision to use the Wethersfield site in his seat “isn’t the result my constituents and I wanted”.

Braintree and Witham Times: Mr Cleverly said the asylum plans “isn’t the result my constituents and I wanted”Mr Cleverly said the asylum plans “isn’t the result my constituents and I wanted” (Image: N/A)

The Braintree MP said: “The Home Office has confirmed that the former MDP Wethersfield will become a temporary asylum reception centre.

“Although this decision isn’t the result my constituents and I wanted, I have received assurances that community safety will remain paramount.

“I have made my views on the site clear from the beginning. My views, and those of local residents were taken into account by the Home Office and considerable mitigations for the local community will be put in place.

“That will include 24/7 security on site and new funding for local services.”

He said he would work with Home Secretary Suella Braverman and the Immigration Minister “to make sure that the centre does not have an adverse impact on the community”.

Ms Patel pressed ministers on the decision to scrap plans to turn former RAF station Linton-on-Ouse into a centre for asylum seekers and suggested RAF Wethersfield, near her constituency, would not be a suitable location.

Braintree and Witham Times: Priti Patel suggested RAF Wethersfield would not be a suitable locationPriti Patel suggested RAF Wethersfield would not be a suitable location (Image: PA)

The Tory former Home Secretary told the Commons: “I am an Essex MP and I’m the other MP for Braintree district. Wethersfield is not in my constituency, (it) is in the constituency of the Foreign Secretary.

“It is no difference, if I may say so, in terms of the rurality and the village size to a former site, not in Essex, which was Linton-on-Ouse, which was cancelled by the current Government.

“Can I ask why it is deemed appropriate for asylum seeker accommodation to be placed in a rural village in Essex with single men where there is no infrastructure, no amenities, but it was not appropriate for somewhere like Linton-on-Ouse?”

Mr Jenrick paid tribute to Ms Patel for starting “this good work with her new plan for immigration”, adding: “I can say that we don’t have a current plan to proceed with Linton-on-Ouse, but the sites that I’ve announced today are just the first set that we would like to take forward.

“Because we want to remove people from hotels as quickly as possible and to move to this more rudimentary form of accommodation, which will reduce pull factors to the UK and defend the interests of the taxpayer.”

Braintree and Witham Times: Braintree Council is seeking legal action on the asylum centre plans in WethersfieldBraintree Council is seeking legal action on the asylum centre plans in Wethersfield (Image: N/A)

Braintree Council, who said it is exploring legal challenges to the plan, said it was "extremely disappointing" to see the plans going ahead.

The council said if the plans do go ahead it will work "closely with partners" to "urgently identify any actions required to support any asylum seekers accommodated" as well as "minimise any impacts on local communities".

The council said: "We are aware from the announcement made by central government today, Wednesday, March 29, that the Home Office are intending to proceed with securing accommodation for asylum seekers at Wethersfield Airfield.

"It is extremely disappointing that concerns raised by us and the local community have not been taken on board.

Braintree and Witham Times: A view of RAF Wethersfield where asylum seekers are set to be heldA view of RAF Wethersfield where asylum seekers are set to be held (Image: PA)

"Our view remains that Wethersfield Airfield is an unsuitable site, given the lack of capacity in local services, its isolated location, the size of the site, and the fact that the scale of the development proposed could have a significant adverse impact upon the local community.

"For the past two weeks officers have been working tirelessly to keep the situation under review and urgently seeking clarification and more information from the Home Office on these plans.

"We have been exploring all legal options available to us to challenge the Home Office on their decision making and challenge the plans from going ahead.

"Following legal advice we received, we applied to the High Court this morning (Wednesday 29th March) for an interim injunction.

"This injunction challenges the Home Office proposals to place asylum seekers at Wethersfield Airfield.

"The matter is expected to be listed before the High Court within the next seven days.

"We understand that the application will be heard by the High Court before the site is occupied by asylum seekers."

The statement continued: "We want to say thank you again to all those who have been working with us, including local parish councils, community groups and residents.

"We will continue to work with everyone as we move forward.

"If the plans do go ahead and the High Court decide not to grant an interim injunction, we will work closely with our partners to urgently identify any actions required to support any asylum seekers accommodated as well as minimise any impacts on local communities.

"It’s important for us to be keeping the local community updated on these plans and we will continue to press the Home Office for more information on their plans and keep our channels updated as and when we know more, including the outcome from the High Court regarding the injunction."