KentOnline: Napier Barracks in Folkestone to house people seeking asylum

KentOnline: Napier Barracks in Folkestone to house people seeking asylum

Article by Alex Jee for KentOnline - published 15 September 2020

A military barracks is set to be used to house around 400 people seeking asylum, it has been confirmed.

The decision is not being supported by the council and town's MP Damian Collins however.

Rumours have been circulating concerning the potential use of Napier Barracks, in Folkestone, for several days.

Residents reported seeing equipment being removed from the barracks and other preparations being made in the area.

One resident, who requested to remain anonymous, said: "This is something that has come down from central government.

"I walked past there earlier and they are clearly moving things out, clearly getting it ready for an alternative use.

"The numbers are differing, I've heard it could be 80 to 100, others are saying much higher."

Following a number of inquries, Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) confirmed this evening (Monday) that the development was taking place.

People could be moving into the barracks from Monday (September 21).

Now, Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins has co-written a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel alongside FHDC leader Cllr David Monk and Cllr Tim Prater to complain about "exceptionally poor communication" regarding the decision.

The letter reads: "The local authorities in Folkestone and Sandgate have been given very little notice of this decision and it's one we cannot support.

"We have great concerns about the impact this large open camp will have on the welfare of the local residential community and also those people in the asylum system who will be placed in the barracks itself."

The trio request that Ms Patel reverses the decision.

They also request the Home Office publishes its impact assessment, a time scale and details on how public services, such as the NHS, will be supported.

A spokesman for FHDC added: "Following the rumours circulating, we have been given confirmation that the Home Office intends to make Napier Barracks an assessment and dispersal facility for asylum seekers.

"Cllr David Monk, Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins and Folkestone and Hythe District Council ward member Cllr Tim Prater - who is also chairman of Sandgate Parish Council - have co-written letters protesting to ministers about the lack of consultation on this matter and the exceptionally poor communication with us.

"We are quite sure that members of the community will have many questions and we are seeking clarification as a matter of urgency.

"When we have the clarification we will publish the answers."

A Central Government spokesperson said: “We are exploring with a range of partners and government departments opportunities for further accommodation.

"Following the submission of a request, the MOD has commenced scoping options.

“During these unprecedented times the government is working to secure accommodation which provides the taxpayer with value for money, whilst ensuring that vulnerable asylum seekers, who would otherwise be destitute, have suitable accommodation while their claims are processed.”

Copyright 2019 Damian Collins. All rights reserved

Promoted by Russell Tillson for and on behalf of Damian Collins, both of Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association both at 4 West Cliff Gardens, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1SP

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