April 17, 2023 5.00 pm This story is over 14 months old

RAF Scampton: Rival protests to march through Lincoln

A counter-protest says refugees aren’t to blame for the situation

By Local Democracy Reporter

Competing far right and anti-fascist protests will seek to make their voices on RAF Scampton heard this weekend.

While both oppose the government’s asylum seeker housing plans, one event is reportedly organised by a far-right group while the other is by a trade union group.

Both groups will march through Lincoln on Saturday, April 22.

A spin-off group of the Patriotic Alternative is believed to be behind one, having previously organised the anti-immigrant Enough is Enough march in Skegness back in February.

According to Scampton source, among those expected to attend is Alek Yerbury, a man who grew in infamy after earning comparisons to Nazi Party leader Adolf Hitler due to his fashion and facial hair choices.

His prominence at far-right demonstrations and emulation of Adolf Hitler has earned him growing infamy.

The counter-protest has been set up by Lincoln Trades Council, who say “Nazi organisers from Leeds” are planning to hijack local concerns about Scampton for political purposes.

Mr Yerbury has been contacted for comment, and hasn’t replied by the time of publication.

A spokesperson for Lincoln Trades Council said: “Their aim is to rally against migrants and gauge the local support they can get. We are counter protesting to show that Lincoln does not want a fascist in the city, or in the county.

“We are marching to say that it is not the refugees’ fault, and that we will not allow the far-right and Nazis to divide our community to spread their message of hate and seek to blame refugees for the issues that our government has caused.

“They have made targets of refugees, engaged in vitriolic hateful rhetoric, and announced plans to stick them in what amounts to concentration camps, housing them in shipping containers whilst blaming them for the economic ills caused by their neglect of our country and its workers.

“They are shifting the focus from the economic crisis, strikes for fair pay and cost of living crisis, to immigration in order to support their electoral aims; and have looked to push the ‘issues’ they have created to rural communities in the Midlands and the North in the hopes that it will improve their electoral chances when faced with a dire economic situation they have created with their own incompetence, and ill-care for the country.”

RAF Scampton signs have been removed | Photo: James Turner

Lincolnshire Police has said it is aware of both the protest and counter-protest planned, and will be in communication with organisers of both sides to ensure proceedings remain peaceful on the day.

Superintendent Lee Pache said: “The right to peaceful protest is a key part of our democracy and across the world people look to the UK for the way we facilitate and uphold that right.

“Balancing the rights of people to present differing views alongside the rights of those who might find their day disrupted can be a challenge, but it’s one we are well prepared for.

“We are in close contact with the organisers, and our specially-trained officers will be on hand during the day to ensure the safety of protestors, the public and police officers involved, as well as minimise serious disruption to the local community.”

The Home Office’s plan to house up to 2000 asylum seekers at RAF Scampton has been widely criticised by local authorities and communities.

The announcement came shortly after West Lindsey District Council and Scampton Holdings Ltd unveiled ambitious £300 million plans to buy the site and create thousands of job and education opportunities – as well as developing a heritage centre to remember the rich history of RAF Scampton.

Peter Hewitt of Scampton Holdings asked at the time: “Would the region prefer a refugee centre or £300 million of levelling up?”

However, this appeared to fall on deaf ears as Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick announced plans to use RAF Scampton as a site for asylum seekers in the House of Commons at the end of March.

Since then, a petition calling for RAF Scampton to be saved from Home Office proposals has gathered over 66,000 signatures, and West Lindsey District Council has threatened legal action over being left in the dark by the government.

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