ASYLUM seekers could be set to move onto Wethersfield Airfield as early as this week despite council concerns for the suitability of the site.

The leader of Braintree Council, Graham Butland has given an update on the potential for asylum seekers to be housed at the airfield.

It is not yet known the exact date of when they could arrive at the site but it is thought it could be from this week.

Braintree Council has raised its concerns with the plans alongside partners and the community. The council has expressed it is particularly concerned with issues relating to “community engagement and funding.”

The plans look to house 1,700 single male asylum seekers on the site in Braintree for an unspecified period of time.

Braintree and Witham Times: RAF site: Wethersfield RAF AirbaseRAF site: Wethersfield RAF Airbase (Image: PA)

In a letter from Mr Butland to the Home Office he said: “We are aware of the intention to utilise the site no earlier than July 11 and therefore asylum seekers could arrive imminently.

“This is despite there still being a number of urgent matters that we feel the Home Office need to address and clarify.”

In an updated statement, Mr Butland said: “We are supportive of welcoming asylum seekers into our district and providing them with the support they need, however we are still very much of the view that the airbase is not a suitable site, for the many reasons we’ve outlined before.

“We are still proceeding with our judicial review permission hearing this week on July 12 and 13 which we hope will give an opportunity to further challenge the Class Q point and the Home Office’s decision to use the site for this purpose.

“The judicial review is on eight grounds, which includes a challenge to the Home Office proposed use and proposed development, and the need for planning permission to have been obtained.

“It also includes challenges against the Home Office failure to take a range of matters into account as part of their decision making process, including the conflict with the Local Plan, health care, traffic implications and wastewater.Braintree and Witham Times: Council leader: Graham ButlandCouncil leader: Graham Butland (Image: N/A)

“This hearing will determine whether the three judicial reviews (Braintree District Council’s, West Lindsey District Council and a resident from Wethersfield) are granted permission to proceed.

“There are currently no restrictions which prevent the Home Office from proceeding with their plans.

“We do not know when we will expect a decision on whether we can proceed but will update residents when we know more. If permission is granted, the case will then proceed to a final hearing.

“This will be the council’s opportunity to formally present its challenge under the eight grounds and will allow for evidence to be presented to the Court.

“The matters will be subject to the courts normal case management, and at this stage, we do not know when the matter would be listed for a final hearing.

“It is clear there are increasing concerns from the public about these plans and I fully understand the frustration that there is still the continued lack of information and unanswered questions from the Home Office.

“We have also been pushing for a dedicated contact so that the community can raise questions and concerns directly with the Home Office.

“We are continuing to push for this but in the meantime, they have advised people can contact them by emailing”

A Home Office spokesperson: “Delivering accommodation on surplus military sites will provide cheaper and more orderly, suitable accommodation for those arriving in small boats whilst helping to reduce the use of hotels. 

“These accommodation sites will house asylum seekers in basic, safe and secure accommodation as they await a decision on their claim. 
“We understand the concerns of local communities and will work closely with councils and key partners to manage the impact of using these sites, including liaising with local police to make sure appropriate arrangements are in place.”