Catterick Garrison and the Legacy of Tony Blair

Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy

The legacy of the Bush-Blair war against the Taliban in Afghanistan continues to haunt Britain and the West. Quietly, with almost no press publicity, the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) is continuing to bring Afghans and their families to the UK from Pakistan, where they fled after the US and UK withdrew and the Taliban took control.

Many of the Afghan Army translators and their families have been settled in rural areas of North Yorkshire and at the Catterick Garrison army camp, where they have been housed in former service family properties. Catterick is a major garrison and military town 3 miles south of Richmond. It is the largest British Army garrison in the world.

At the end of May, local councillors were told that North Yorkshire had resettled a total of 382 individuals from Afghan resettlement schemes. Despite the initial target for Richmondshire, which includes Catterick Garrison, being 45, 177 individuals had already been resettled in the area.

The meeting revealed that 14 Afghan resettlement scheme beneficiaries were placed in Craven, 38 in Hambleton, 116 in Harrogate, 16 in Scarborough, and 21 in Selby. The Richmondshire District Council report presented during the meeting highlighted the lack of necessary facilities, such as local GP surgeries and dentists in the area to support refugees.

Reports from the council meeting also indicated that regular flights were still bringing Afghan arrivals into the UK, and North Yorkshire might have to house additional ARAP families in former service family properties. There would be no consultation with rural communities over any refugees being housed as part of the joint MoD and government scheme.

Catterick Garrison. The garrison has a population of around 13,000 people.

Kevin Foster, a councillor representing Catterick Garrison, has highlighted the pressing issue of a severe housing crisis in the town. This crisis has been aggravated by the escalating number of no-fault evictions. A ‘no-fault eviction’ refers to the use of a Section 21 notice to evict a tenant without the landlord needing to give the tenant a reason for the eviction. Legislation banning no-fault evictions was abandoned when the General Election was called at short notice.

Although the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has offered temporary housing solutions, there are significant concerns regarding the long-term living arrangements for the Afghans. It is not the living arrangements of the ‘refugees’ that concern us in the BM, it is the plight of the indigenous British families forced out of their homes to make way for these newcomers. Social media sites set up by the families speak of anger, despair and feelings of betrayal. Many of the households receiving a Section 21 notice have military connections.

Councillor Foster was quoted as saying: “To find we’re going to have to go from 45 to 177 and we’re going to have to get the refugees or the people living there into council properties by the end of the year, I have no idea how we’re going to do this.

“My email box is absolutely full of people trying to get houses, especially three or four-bedroom houses. We haven’t got houses now, where on earth are we going to put these people when they come back into us?

“I’m absolutely astounded by this. I don’t know what I’m going to tell my residents.”

A selection of posts on Facebook. IDs blurred for security.


Top Image: Afghans rush to pass through the border gate into Pakistan at Spin Boldak. Credit: RFE-R
Middle Image: Cpl Ian Forsyth RLC/MOD, OGL v1.0OGL v1.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Lower Image: Facebook.

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