MP’s suggestion to resettle refugees at Bassingbourn Barracks provokes backlash in village

Could Bassingbourn Barracks be used as a safe haven for refugees?

Could Bassingbourn Barracks be used as a safe haven for refugees? - Credit: Archant

A suggestion by MP Heidi Allen that refugees might be found a safe haven at Bassingbourn Barracks has provoked a backlash from a village still smarting over the wake of the Libyan troops disaster.

On Monday the South Cambs MP tweeted: “How would you feel about us offering the empty Bassingbourn Barracks as a temporary resettlement base for refugees?”

But the suggestion drove villagers including Pasty Moore ‘hopping mad’.

She said: “I’ve written to Heidi as I think she been really thoughtless and premature with her comments.

“Me and my husband are hopping mad. We are still bruised by what happened when the Libyans were here and I think it’s a dreadful proposal.”

County councillor Adrian Dent, who represents Bassingbourn, also expressed his reservations.

He told the Crow: “I fully agree with the sentiment of it, but I think it’s slightly flawed until a plan is put into place.

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“There are a lot of people with concerns that the same problems will arise that did with the Libyan soldiers – we all know what happened there.

“Would they be coming into the village? Would they be using the shops in the barracks? There are an awful lot of questions.”

Becca Parete tweeted Heidi back saying: “How would you feel offering your back garden? That’s what it is to me! Look what happened last time!”

Heidi responded to Becca’s concerns saying the families would be “taken directly from UN refugee camps, not single male soldiers.”

Darren Macey, on the other hand, was all for the idea, tweeting: “Sounds good, but must be sure it doesn’t behave like an immigration detention centre, the people must be treated with respect.”

Despite being responsive to people’s concerns on Twitter, a spokesman for Heidi did not want to go into detail about her suggestion when approached by the Crow, saying: “Until government formulates the national response in more detail, Heidi is unable to speculate on the role South Cambs will play in the resettlement process.”

The leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council said he is ‘pressing the government for more details’ in order to co-ordinate a long term plan.

Councillor Ray Manning said: “This international crisis needs a properly planned and co-ordinated response from governments across Europe. We have heard headline figures from the Prime Minister but, as he has made clear, this crisis goes far beyond simply trying to put a roof over people’s heads in the short term.

“We need a longer term co-ordinated plan that is funded and includes health, education and social care. We will now work with our local MPs, other councils and health partners in the area to press the government for more details.”