far-right rally against Government plans to house up to 2,000 asylum seekers at RAF Scampton and a counter-protest held by anti-racism campaigners have passed off without incident.
Officers from Lincolnshire Police monitored both events in Lincoln city centre, which saw more than 100 supporters of Stand Up To Racism march down the High Street, while a smaller number of people gathered to hear speeches opposing Scampton’s use as an asylum centre.
The Government announced last month that it is working on proposals to use the Scampton site, about five miles north of the city, to provide accommodation for single adult make asylum seekers, starting with around 200 and “increasing to 2,000 people over time.”
The department has said it will ensure catering facilities and basic primary care are available to refugees at Scampton, the former home of the Red Arrows and the Second World War Dambusters squadron.
Speaking after the counter-protest march ended in Cornhill, Lincoln, Calvin Bissitt, the secretary of Lincoln and District Trades Council, said those marching were supporting refugees and opposing attempts to apportion blame to asylum seekers.
The counter-demonstration was not supporting the use of Scampton to house asylum-seekers, but sought to make clear that refugees should be made welcome in the UK.
“Refugees fought and died in the skies of Britain,” Mr Bissitt said.
“I think nothing is a greater insult to them and their legacy than to allow the far right… to allow them to speak as if they care about the heritage and the legacy of the RAF.”
Around 10 police officers were briefly forced to form a cordon between a small number of counter-protesters and the demonstration against the Scampton plans, at which ex-solider and former Patriotic Alternative activist Alek Yerbury was the main speaker.
Mr Yerbury told a crowd standing near a bridge over the River Witham: “What we have shown to the Home Office, to the council and to their minions is that we see through their game.
“We have shown them that if they are not prepared to resolve this problem, we will do it ourselves.”
Lincolnshire Police had held talks with organisers of both events and stressed that it was the force’s duty to facilitate peaceful protest, while ensuring officers were on hand to prevent the possibility of crime or disorder occurring.
A member of Scampton Parish Council had urged people not to attend the far-right protest, saying it hijacked people’s legitimate concerns.
In a statement issued after the plans for Scampton were announced, the Home Office said it recognised the importance of the rich heritage at the base and was committed to preserving and enhancing its heritage assets, having engaged with Historic England.