Published: 15:47, 16 September 2020
| Updated: 16:02, 16 September 2020
A council has made a U-turn following the Home Office's decision to house asylum seekers in Folkestone .
Initially the leader of Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC), David Monk, co-signed a letter calling on Home Secretary Priti Patel to "reverse the decision" to allow 400 people to move into the Napier Barracks from next week .
Cllr Monk penned the letter along with MP for the district, Damian Collins, and FHDC cabinet member Cllr Tim Prater, who is also chairman of Sandgate Parish Council.
It also requested alternative accommodation be found.
The council had also hit out over the "exceptionally poor communication" from the Home Office in regards to the plans.
The barracks will provide accommodation for people who arrive in Kent after crossing the channel on small boats.
But now, following a meeting with partner agencies, FHDC has announced it will help set up a support network for the asylum seekers due to be housed in the town.
A spokesman said: "Work is now underway to ensure that the appropriate facilities are in place for those people who will be coming to Shorncliffe after arriving in the UK seeking asylum."
FHDC leader David Monk added: "We understand the plight of many asylum seekers who arrive in this country with only the clothes they are wearing and we want to help.
"A support network has to be set up and it must be one that will work.
"There are lots of aspects to consider and our initial concern was that some of these aspects had not been addressed with us earlier.
"We have now had a much-needed discussion with Home Office representatives and I am pleased that daily meetings of key staff from the various agencies are taking place to work out the best way of supporting the asylum seekers who are coming to Folkestone.
"It was never a question of this council being against the principle of asylum seekers living in our community.
"Our concern was that as we had not been consulted we had no way of being able to allay the fears and address the questions raised by our residents."
Today also saw MPs from Kent open discussions with politicians from France on cross-Channel issues.
MP Damian Collins joined a Zoom meeting with Craig Mackinlay, MP for South Thanet, and Tom Tugendhat, MP for Tonbridge and Malling, and members from the National Assembly to learn more about each other’s constituencies, and each governments’ and constituents’ respective positions on migration, fishing, tourism and cross-Channel trade.
Mr Collins said the meeting was "the first of what we hope will be a regular series of close discussions on cross-Channel issues".
He added: "As the UK leaves the EU, we believe it’s important to maintain and develop strong relationships between British and French MPs either side of the Channel."
It comes as a record number of people have crossed the waters from France to the Kent this year, making a dangerous journey to reach the UK.