MP Damian Collins demands more answers on operation of Napier Barracks in Sandgate as accommodation for asylum seekers
Published: 17:09, 21 September 2020
Updated: 19:36, 21 September 2020
More concerns have been raised following news over 400 asylum seekers will be moving into military barracks in Folkestone - including from two headteachers.
Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, has written a second letter to the Home Office asking for more clarity on how the make-shift camp will be run at Napier Barracks, at the Sir John Moore Barracks in Sandgate.
It comes after people seeking refuge in the UK are expected to start moving into the army site owned by the Ministry of Defence (MOD), from today and could stay for one year.
It follows an influx in the number of people arriving on Kent's shores, with record numbers making the desperate and dangerous journey to reach the UK this year
But Mr Collins says "many concerned constituents" have contacted him over the plans, including the leaders of two primary schools.
Mr Collins said: "They are all asking questions about how this facility will be operated and what reassurances we can give them about the impact on the community.
"I believe they have a right to know this information."
Also in his letter, addressed to Chris Philp MP, minister for immigration compliance, Mr Collins questions whether Folkestone and Hythe District Council will be provided with "discretionary funding" for their assistance in setting up the accommodation.
He also asks whether the guests will be able to leave the site, or have access to NHS services, among other questions.
The letter was sent today and was the second one written by the MP to the Home Office.
His first was co-written with Folkestone and Hythe council leader David Monk and Sandgate Parish Council leader Tim Prater and addressed to Home Secretary Priti Patel and highlighted their concerns about the plans.
The trio even asked for the decision to use the barracks be reversed.
The council has since come out to support the plans following a meeting with Home Office representatives and says it will provide a support network for guests.
It was Mr Philp who responded to the first letter on behalf of the Home Secretary, in which he revealed more details about how the accommodation will be organised.
He said the site will be "run on behalf of the Home Office by contracted providers" who have a "clear focus as always on the welfare of those in accommodation, the provision of appropriate wrap around services and wider considerations relating to the local area and its residents".
Mr Philp also said security would be provided on site, as would medical services which would ensure the guests are not "reliant on local healthcare services".
It was also revealed that at maximum capacity, 431 people could stay at the barracks.
The letter reads: "At full capacity, Napier Barracks can accommodate up to 523 people.
"The MOD are currently limiting capacity to 431 in line with social distancing guidelines.
"We are still working through how we operate the site safely and in line with current social distancing requirements and are seeking the advice of Public Health England to assist with this."
And although the MOD has given permission for the site to be used to one year, Mr Philp said the "use of this facility will be temporary, and we will discontinue it as soon as we are able".
But Mr Collins says they are "still many unanswered questions regarding the operation of the site" and hopes more will be revealed on the back of his second letter today.
More by this authorSam Williams