North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale says the Manston airport site will not be used to house people seeking asylum in the UK but the Home Office is looking at using the former Fire Training and Development Centre for ‘triage’ – which would include secure detention.
The site is being considered for ‘overspill’ from Tug Haven in Dover where people arriving to seek asylum outside of the proper process are first taken for basic supplies and health/identity checks.
BBC South East reported on the plan this evening and said it also means Air Cadets and Army Reservists based at the site have been given notice to move out.
Those affected are 3rd Battalion the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment and 2433 Ramsgate & Manston Squadron – RAF Air Cadets.
Sir Roger said: “The Home Office is examining the possibility of using the former fire school as an overspill for Tug Haven to triage some asylum seekers in a secure detention centre that would have its own self-contained facilities and medical services.
“I am in discussion with the Minister of State at the Home Office and the Secretary of State for Defence to establish further details about this proposal.”
When asked about the possible Home Office use at Manston earlier this month RiverOak Strategic Partners, which now owns the airport site, said an approach had been made to use the barracks but had been rejected with much of the accommodation condemned due to asbestos. The fire training centre is owned by the Ministry of Defence.
The Fire Training and Development Centre at Manston closed in 2020 with operations transferred to Moreton-in-Marsh.
The move followed the agreement in July 2019 of a 12 year contract, worth £525 million, to outsource Ministry of Defence fire and rescue operations to private company Capita.
The firm was selected by the MOD as the winning tender for the Defence Fire and Rescue Project in June 2018.
Tug Haven is a short-term reception centre at Dover Western Docks.
RSP and the Home Office have been contacted for further details.