People seeking asylum moved out of Broadstairs former student accommodation building

The former student accommodation at the ex-campus in Broadstairs

The use of former student accommodation in Broadstairs to house people seeking asylum has ended abruptly after just three days.

The premises, on the former Canterbury Christ Church University Thanet campus, was procured by Clearsprings Ready Homes which has a 10-year contract to manage asylum seeker accommodation in England and Wales.

The Northwood Court site, on the corner of Northwood Road, has a total of 86 en-suite bedrooms and a number of shared dining room and kitchen facilities. It is privately owned after Christ Church University put the campus up for sale as two lots, the campus comprising one lot and the accommodation the second lot.

Accommodation is being procured by the Home Office to alleviate issues of overcrowding at processing centres including Manston. North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale said earlier this week he is confident Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick will “get a handle” on the situation.

Craig Mackinlay

South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay, who raised the issue of the accommodation in Parliament yesterday, said those at the Broadstairs site have already been moved out after Kent Fire and Rescue Service declined to certify it.

He said: “Important update #Broadstairs. I am given to understand that @kentfirerescue refused to certify the old Christ Church Uni block as safe for migrant accommodation. All 77 who arrived over the weekend have been moved by coach out of the area. This location was never appropriate.”

However, Mark Woodward, Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s (KFRS) Assistant Director for Customer and Building Safety, said: “Our building fire safety team has made contact with the site operator for the building but no visits have yet been carried out and no recommendations have been issued.”

St George’s school head teacher Adam Mirams has also contacted pupils’ families to update them on the situation, saying: “The current situation is that the asylum seekers have been moved out as of this morning. I hope this reduces the anxiety of some of our school community.”

Council leader Ash Ashbee this week had spoken of her “absolute dismay” that the site was being used without any notification to the local authority.

She also revealed the council has been working to procure the building for emergency homelessness accommodation.

She said: “Since August I have been trying to procure the building for Thanet council. I have been putting together a financial plan so we could provide accommodation for emergency housing for our homeless in Thanet.”

Kent County Council had also expressed interest to use the site for unaccompanied asylum seeking children and there had been interest from an NHS and Age UK partnership, she revealed.

Cllr Ashbee said the council was close to being able to put in a “complete offer” for the site, adding: “The accommodation in set out into single rooms and would not have been suitable for families unless we did some work. We didn’t want to take it on as single rooms and had a design to try and provide between 16-20 units suitable for families.”

Cllr Ashbee says Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick is due to meet with Kent council leaders in the coming days.

The site is privately owned by a London college after Christ Church University put the campus up for sale.

Cllr Mike Garner

Ward councillor Mike Garner said: “The situation at Christ Church Campus over the last few days has been a debacle from start to finish. No consideration was ever given to the impact on the local community and no regard was given to the people seeking asylum who’ve been moved from pillar to post with very little, if any, support.

“The blame for this lies at the door of the Government who, by outsourcing the issue of accommodating asylum seekers to Clearsprings Ready Homes on a 10-year contract, have effectively washed their hands of their responsibilities at a cost to the tax payer of £1billion!

“We are now left with a building, which the council had been looking at leasing and renovating to provide accommodation to ease local housing issues, sitting empty in the hands of a company who are now unable to use it in the foreseeable future. This can’t be allowed to happen again and any future use of the building needs to go through the council’s full planning process.”

A Home Office spokesperson previously said: “The number of people arriving in the UK who seek asylum and require accommodation has reached record levels, placing unprecedented pressures on the asylum system.

“The Government is working with all local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland to provide more suitable accommodation for asylum seekers and to end the unacceptable use of hotels, with more than £21 million in grant funding already been provided to local authorities to help them respond to challenges in their area.”

The latest year end accounts report for Clearsprings on Companies House says: “Local authorities are always consulted extensively on the location and operation of accommodation, to ensure and promote harmonious integration of the Company’s service users with the wider community.

“The Directors aspire to minimise the adverse environmental impact of the Company’s activities. Service users are encouraged to take a responsible approach to the use of energy. The Company’s employees are also encouraged to use greener forms of transport where possible.

“The directors are concerned to maintain a reputation for high standards of conduct and governance in the Company’s activities.”

The rising profits made by Clearsprings Ready Homes through asylum contracts – and a look at the issue of application backlogs

39 Comments

  1. A sensible decision following the fire safety report.
    What were the owners / authorities involved thinking ? Setting up an establishment such as this right next to a large privately occupied housing estate, 150 yards from a large school and also a a major shopping and eating area, was never a sensible or desirable thing to do. Despite protestations from some, we know nothing about most of these people who are seeking ‘asylum’, many , or mostly, single young males.
    Sense has ruled – on this occasion .

    • However, Mark Woodward, Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s (KFRS) Assistant Director for Customer and Building Safety, said: “Our building fire safety team has made contact with the site operator for the building but no visits have yet been carried out and no recommendations have been issued.”
      So who is telling the truth?

      • Changes in Fire Safety law many years ago removed the fire certification role from Fire & Rescue services. Fire Safety duties lie with building owners and/or leaseholders.
        KFRS could have closed the building down or demanded improvements but they could not “certify” it was safe.

      • Well they can’t issue any certificate or sign anything off if they’ve not inspected the premises , so technically correct. I’d guess TDC have asked for certification on the building as a privately rented property rather than it’s former designation as an educational establishment and it’s been found lacking.

    • We know nothing about most people we encounter when mingling with the public, I find it curious that so many think these men, women and children are somehow more dangerous than the local men in Thanet.

  2. There are empty military bases all over the country send them to one of them, plus make them maintain the upkeep and maintenance.
    That way they can pay for their keep, rather than the tax payers paying for their keep.

  3. I would have thought the local school, with such a strong Christian ethos, would have welcomed those less fortunate than themselves into their local community.

    Oh, I forgot that the kids and parents only briefly discover God in Years 5 and 6 before the Kent Test and it’s back to normal after that.

  4. Odd how the accommodation was ok for student nurses. But not up to the standards demanded for illegal immigrants.

  5. For me, “us jews” have more than enough to stop us treating a very vulnerable person’s religious observance (halal) as a joke.
    When you are complicit in islamophobia or attacks on refugees/migrants you are helping to de-humanise them. It’s the slippery slope to a shed-load of nasty stuff that “us jews” would do well to remember.

  6. I enjoy reading your anti immigration comments here. They are full of such love. Plus these people are not illegal as many think. The High court here says they are legal. It is Tories that love to criminalise them. The English Channel is a natural border and there is no crime committed in crossing it like another land border. Just wait til climate change brings about mass migration. The only crime committed is by the trafficker. If you really want to blame someone them blame the Government here. There is no other way to claim asylum here. Have a great day.

  7. Reply to Joe who does not feel strongly enough to put his/her full name.
    Was it not SIR Tony Blairs government, followed by Gordon Brown, who openened up our borders, with no cap on numbers entering.
    Fact!
    They have entered this country illegally and obviously know exactly what they are doing, by getting involved with people traffickers.
    They have also come from a SAFE country France.
    You are entitled to your beliefs. So are we!

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