The Home Office has today (14 December) confirmed that part of the Ministry of Defence site at Manston will be used as a processing centre for asylum seekers by January 2022.
The new, secure site will be able to hold people for up to five days as security and identity checks are completed.
Short term initial accommodation will be provided for people during their time on the Manston site.
The Home Office says there should be minimal implications for those living near Manston, as people will be brought there for initial screening and processing before going onto longer term accommodation. The site provides all the amenities and services needed for a short term stay.
People who travel to the UK through safe and legal routes – such as the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy or Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme – will not be taken to Manston.
Minister for Justice and Tackling Illegal Migration, Tom Pursglove said:“We are overhauling our broken asylum system to ensure people smugglers can’t profit from this vile trade.
“This new site will provide safe and secure accommodation for illegal migrants whilst the government carries out necessary checks.
“It is only our New Plan for Immigration which will reform the system and build one which is fair on those who play by the rules, and firm on those who do not.”
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.
However, 2433 Ramsgate & Manston Squadron – RAF Air Cadets have been offered use of a building by the control tower on the Manston airport site which is owned by RiverOak Strategic Partners. The new venue is being cleared.
North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale said yesterday that the use of the former fire school was for “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. Tug Haven is a short-term reception centre at Dover Western Docks.
Kent County Councillor, representing Ramsgate, Cllr Karen Constantine said: “The recent tragic deaths in the Channel were preventable. Many Ramsgate residents remain extremely distressed at the continuing tragedy that is unfolding on our coast. We recognise that there are a myriad complex reason why people want to make their way to our country to start a new life. The vast majority will be granted leave to stay and will forge fresh lives for themselves. A great many will become assets in their new communities.
“Locals have contacted me to see what positive and practical support can be given to our latest residents. I will also liaise with KCC and others to ensure that this new site is safe, welcoming and provides everything that is required. I will be requesting a site project plan and to visit to ensure all needs have been taken fully into account.
“Please do feel free to contact me if you are able to offer support or assistance Karen@karenconstantine.co.uk”
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.
The New Plan for Immigration (NPI) is the government’s long-term plan to amend the asylum system and bring exploitation by criminal gangs to an end. The NPI aims to reduce the pull factor of the UK by making it more difficult to remain in the country if legal processes have not been followed. It will also see a move away from unsustainable hotel accommodation towards dedicated reception centres.
The latest plans come on the heels of the deaths of 27 people who were crossing the Channel last month. Those who drowned after their flimsy vessel sunk during the crossing were 17 men, seven women – one of whom was pregnant – and three children.
Five people have been arrested in France in connection with the crossing.