North Thanet MP slams Home Office plan to hold people seeking asylum in “marquees” during winter at Manston

Sir Roger Gale

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale has raised in Parliament the issue of an asylum seeker processing centre being established at Manston branding it a ‘kneejerk reaction’ railroaded through without any consultation with Thanet MPs, Thanet council or Kent County Council.

On Tuesday the Home Office 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. They said the site will provide 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.


Speaking yesterday (December 15) MP Sir Roger said the proposed site at the former fire training and defence centre was “inappropriate” and would have “unfortunate and undesirable consequences for the communities and the people affected and the government.”

He also said there were phase 2 and phase 3 proposals that the Home Office has not discussed or consulted on with Thanet’s MPs and authorities.

Sir Roger said: “The current dog whistle proposal  appears to transfer arrivals from Tug Haven (short-term reception centre at Dover Western Docks.) to Manston barracks where they will be accommodated, in the middle of winter, in marquees and detained securely while processed.

“There’s no indication how the site will accommodate these human beings, will be made secure or what facilities will be made available other than the statutory onsite medical facilities.

“These are real people who have been subjected to great miseries.”

‘Lack of consultation’

Sir Roger also slammed Home Office officials for a lack of consultation, saying he only became aware of the proposal after the Wing Commander of the 2433 Ramsgate & Manston Squadron – RAF Air Cadets emailed him on December 10 to say the unit had been ordered to move out by December 15.

The MP said Thanet and Kent councils were not notified until December 13 and that Kent’s senior health official has still not been formally advised of the plan for the screening and processing centre.

He added: “Neither were proposals for phase two transfer and triage facilities from Trug Haven to Manston discussed and neither was a further proposal fora phase 3 expansion of facilities to handle a still to be determined number of migrants for an unspecified length of time, consulted on.”

The MP said he had requested on December 14 that work on the project be stopped in order to carry out consultation but this had been ignored an officials were “still blundering on.”

Sir Roger added that he had identified at least one “clean, comfortable and secure operational vessel that can, if commissioned, meet the immediate and longer term need,” and he had been advised others were available.

He requested that the Minister instruct officials to put the “unacceptable and unworkable” Manston proposal on hold and look for other viable options.

The proposal relates to MoD owned property which is not part of the airport site. It follows a report by the HM Inspector of Prisons that found the Tug Haven site to be unsuitable.

Tug Haven report

The report, which came after an unannounced inspection in September 2020, said: “The area resembled a building site. Detainees almost always arrived wet and cold, but then often had to spend hours in the open air or in cramped containers, before moving to another detention environment.

“Basic supplies, including dry clothing, ran out during the inspection and some detainees were placed on escort vehicles in wet clothes. Despite the poor conditions, the detainees we interviewed were almost all very positive about the way individual staff at Tug Haven treated them.”

This month it was announced that the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration has commenced an inspection of the initial processing of people arriving via small boats at Tug Haven.

The inspection will focus on the security checks performed to protect the border, and the identification and safeguarding of vulnerable people. The inspection team anticipate reporting to the Home Secretary by February.

County councillor Karen Constantine said earlier this week that she will be liaising with KCC and others to ensure the new site at Manston is safe, welcoming and provides everything that is required. She will also be requesting a site project plan and a visit to ensure all needs have been taken fully into account

2433 Ramsgate & Manston Squadron – RAF Air Cadets have been offered use of a building by the control tower on the Manston airport Northern Grass site which is owned by RiverOak Strategic Partners. However, it is not yet clear whether this has been accepted.


  1. we do not know who these people really are, what crimes they are wanted for in thier true home countries and more to the point what diseases they are carrying , this is a ticking bomb from top to bottom

    • I would urge everybody to remember that posting messages which include sexist, RACIST or homophobic remarks may constitute “malicious communications and racially aggravated public order offences”.

      • No one is using racist language so don’t try that one on people who have an opposing view. There should always be an opposing view in a democracy. It is a natural impulse to put the safety of your own people first. We should always do that.

        • Robert, it was a friendly reminder but note the wording of the Act. The original news is about asylum applicants. Arguing without any evidence that these persons would be criminals or bear diseases is unkind at the very least and only serves to fuel a certain sentiment. I urge you not to confuse the ‘right to free speech’ with ‘the right to free speech without consequences’. The former does not exist in Britain, and has not done so for decades, if ever. Abiding to legislation is s fundamental British value, according to Home Office. But that requires a basic understanding of relevant laws. Hope this helps.

    • What world are you from so called “Real World”? None of these desperate people have been convicted of any criminal offence, so they are not criminals! According to TV reports unaccompanied children are being kept with adults, as are vulnerable women who are being confined in inappropriate accommodation, this is very concerning, and unacceptable! My guess is this is deliberate policy of the Home Secretary, Phati Patel, to try to discourage people coming here!

  2. Gale, full of nonsense again. He is annoyed as given the opportunity he would have negotiated with the government on behalf of his partner at Riveroak to house them on the runway in portacabins. It’s all obviously about the siphoning of large amounts of public funds to his business friend Freudmann, like what happened with the £8000,000 they got at Brexit from another friend Grant Shapps the Transport Minister for doing nothing, it was all Stone Hill Park works. Because they found that the MOD land is more than suitable for these short stays Gale is a jealous cross bunny. About time he retired.

  3. SRG is a jealous bunny as he didn’t think of negotiating a deal for his chum TF at Riveroak. He could have wangled even more £millions for them to use the land if he was given prior notice. The MOD site is more than ideal for this though and is not part of Riveroaks. About time Windy retired.

  4. I’m sure those philanthropists Riveroak will build some luxury accommodation there to try and bribe more public favour……

  5. Iirc the triage reception area adjacent to tug haven was intended to be temporary due to redevelopment in the port. Sir Rog!
    Ramsgate commercial port has better facility for landing migrants, many have been landed there already from sar boats.
    Maybe tdc could promote its commercial port as a replacement for dover’s tent & container triage area.

  6. We should get our own people off the streets first they have no facilities get cold/wet and hungry, this will end up being long term dispite what we are being told. Will our armed soldiers be used to guard them as they guard the site now.

  7. Where does he think these migrants will go? It’s his government that said they would ‘protect our borders’ yet since Brexit we have the highest levels of migrants.
    His government could look at the crisis like adults and put in place measures for migrants to have legal routeways to claim asylum but they choose not to. Now we have burnt our bridges with France why would they bother taking them back.

    • Your right Realistic Girl, when we were in the EU anyone arriving here from another EU country and claiming asylum could legally be returned back to the first EU country they arrived at! Now we are no longer a member of the EU we cannot send them back, so its another fine mess the Brexiteers have got us into, Duuurh!

  8. if you want to see the real roger gale , have a look at his voting record on they work for you , the votes on the disabled and people on benefits makes interesting reading , he should have his knighthood shoved up his a**e

  9. “MP Sir Roger said the proposed site at the former fire training and defence centre was “inappropriate” and would have “unfortunate and undesirable consequences for the communities…”
    But a 24×7 cargo hub would be fine?

  10. Perhaps we should ask the idiots running COVID Project Fear to creep back to their parliamentary slum and enact legislation making unauthorised channel crossing illegal with immediate secure detention and automatic return to their country of origin if the EU refuse to accept them.

    Politically incorrect and against woke culture but what this overcrowded country needs.

  11. ref comment from dumpton , how can you be so certain about these peoples backgrounds and any criminal record when a lot of them seem to have ” lost ” thier passports , they could be anybody. face the facts dont kid yourself or anyone else. the truth is out there.

    • real world reveals the real cause of many people’s justified fears and that is an open door policy for asylum seekers leaving us vulnerable to attack by terrorists. It can happen so easily with devastating consequences. Anyone saying it won’t happen is being insincere. Illegal immigration occurs as a result of the West invading their lands and causing chaos. Instead of trying to impose democracy through bombs and guns, we should be assisting their economies and securing a better life in their homelands. Welcoming people here is hardly the best thing for them. We can’t even look after our own homeless and unemployed, ffs.

  12. Well done Haygordon. Look after our own homeless and the many poor being fleeced by landlords. Priti useless Patel has no idea how to deal with the illegals and soon we will have them on our How soon before we see major breakouts. Bleating woke do-gooders need to get real

  13. I’m very sorry for these people who risk their lives to get to Britain . They clearly have no idea what a lot of insensitive unimaginative racists we’ve got here.

      • Why not reopen the Immigration Removal Center in Dover Western Heights? All males over 18 could be held here until their case is investigated. Families and under 18s, women and girls could be held elsewhere.

  14. But people who cannot imagine what conditions would make people risk their lives trying to get to Britain are unimaginative. And people who don’t feel any sympathy for the millions who have lost their homes, way of life, friends and family are insensitive. And it’s evident that some of the people who comment here are racists.

    • Marva Rees, you are attempting emotional blackmail with the “racist” accusation. Saying we are concerned about the safety of our own people is not racist. It is practical good sense. We all feel sympathy for those who are the victims of oppression (like the Palestinians) but we would prefer the problems other people suffer are sorted out in their own countries. Like The US releasing the billions that belong to Afghanistan so that Afghans don’t starve. The root of all these problems go back to the aggression perpetrated by the US-led coalitions in which the UK plays a junior role. The root of all evil.

  15. Come on, Mr Edwards, it is obvious that there are people posting comments on this site who are racist. They do not even care if they show it- well perhaps they do, considering how many use a pseudonym.

  16. Name one of them (even just their pseudonym) and show me the post. Quite often the term racist is thrown at people because people like you see racism where none exists. It has become an epithet directed at someone whose views you simply do not like. Am I a racist because I am concerned about the safety and security of my own people? Because this is what it is all about. Nothing else.

    • The term “racist” is a made-up word invented by Leon Trotsky in 1927 for the sole purpose of silencing opposition. It seems not much has changed.
      The charge of “racist” is still leveled at people today and you have been doing this on here in order to discredit others. No one on here has made what you deem to be a racist statement. You can not give me one example. Now put up or shut up.

      • Kathy Bailes has closed or disallowed certain comment threads because of their content.

        Perhaps Mr. Edwards has taken the words “this site” to mean the article above, rather than the”Isle of Thanet News” in general.

          • Robert, I am afraid that your idea of what ‘racist’ means is different to what our current legislation describes. The legal definition of ‘racial group’ for instance expands on skin tone, race or ethnicity and includes nationality, citizenship and national origin. A specific nationality or origin may not need to be part of the language used by the person. Thus, I would not wish to be in the shoes of ‘real world’ if they had made their first post in public. As I said, there is no free speech without consequences.

  17. Refugees Welcome, As I posted earlier, racism is a made-up word invented by Leon Trotsky in 1927. It did not exist prior to this date. Its purpose? To silence opposition in the same way you woke people are attempting today.
    Strictly speaking, it should refer to race. Indo-European, negro, etc. If it has consequences then it is not free speech. It is obvious you are not in favour of free speech. I am in favour of unconditional free speech and no one like you is going to take that away from me.

Comments are closed.