Thanet councillors told Manston processing centre has not been ‘stood down’

Manston centre Photo Swift Aerial Photography

The Manston processing centre has not been stood down by the Home Office and is undergoing a deep clean and adjustments, a meeting of Thanet councillors was told this week.

All people who had been at the centre were moved on to accommodation earlier this week. Councillors at an Overview and Scrutiny meeting on Thursday were told by chief executive Colin Carmichael that it is thought the people were moved to sites outside of the county.

Thanet council’s housing director Bob Porter said a Home Office representative told him the centre will likely be used again.

He said: “(There was) a meeting led by Folkestone and Hythe District Council inviting representatives from the Home Office and partners to talk about some of the issues.

“There was a representative from the Home Office involved in the management of Manston processing centre that I had a conversation with.

“The information I got from that conversation was that there happened to be no refugees/asylum seekers at the centre at the moment but it had not been stood down by the Home Office and if there are further arrivals they would continue to use the centre.”

Planning consents

Bob Porter

In response to a question from Cllr Phil Fellows, Mr Porter also revealed that continued use of the Manston centre would mean planning consents will need to be sought next year.

He said: “In relation to the Manston centre, we are not aware of any planning processes that have been followed in relation to the centre.

“The advice that we have had, and we are investigating it further, is the Home Office would be able to continue to use that until some time next year when they would, at that point, need to obtain some kind of planning approval for their use of that site, That would not necessarily have to come through (Thanet council), it could be determined at a county or national level. But at some point the planning issues at Manston would need to be resolved.”

Clearspring Ready Homes

However, Mr Porter said the student accommodation at the former Canterbury Christ Church University campus at Broadstairs which government contractor Clearsprings Ready Homes took on to accommodate people seeking asylum earlier this month would not be used again.

He said: “We are in contact with the owners of the university building. The exact status of the agreement Clearsprings had with the owners is not entirely clear but we do understand that they do not intend to use it again.”

Council leader Ash Ashbee said in future the council would receive 24 hours notice before Clearsprings used any accommodation on the isle.

Clearsprings Ready Homes has two Home Office contracts to provide accommodation for people seeking asylum. The value of these is £662 million for operations in the South and £334 million for Wales totalling £996 million for the 10 year period.

24 hours notice

Cllr Ashbee said following the overcrowding issue at Manston when the centre was holding some 4000 people rather than the 1600 it was designed for, the Home Office put in place arrangements with Clearsprings to lease accommodation in Kent and elsewhere.

She added: “TDC and other affected councils were given no notice of this operation nor given any notice of any hotels or other facilities that were being leased.

“I was a signatory of a letter to the Home Secretary from all Kent leaders setting out the very detrimental effects these arrangements were having on the county and district services.”

Cllr Ashbee says she believes that objections made, including from Thanet’s two MPs, led to the university accommodation site being stood down by Clearsprings.

She added that a meeting of Kent leaders and chief executives with immigration minister Robert Jenrick had led to acknowledgement that this had been badly handled and assurance that councils would receive 24 hours notice of any leasing arrangements in their area in future.

She added: “To date we have received no notifications.”

Safe route

Cllr Aram Rawf

During the meeting a number of councillors, including Cllr Aram Rawf who came to the UK seeking asylum when he was a teenager, called for a safe route for people to use.

He said: “This council should push the government, though both our MPs, to tell them they need to set up a safe route to stop traffickers that make money and bring people illegally to this country..”

He said a safe route could include a camp in France instead of handing money to French government under a new agreement with the UK.

The deal agreed this month will see the UK pay France £62.2million in 2022-2023 in return for a 40 percent increase in the  numbers of security forces patrolling its northern beaches.

But Cllr Aram said the arrangement will not work. He said: “I do not leave my house to go to work and leave the door open and pay my neighbour to look after my house. I shut my door to make sure no-one breaks in. Giving (£62million) of taxpayers money to foreign countries to shut our borders is not going to work.”

Photo Rob Yates

Prior to the meeting, a gathering was held outside the council offices in Margate in a vigil marking the one year anniversary since some 27 people lost their lives in the Channel while attempting a small boat crossing.

Diphtheria ‘may’ have caused illness in man who died

On November 19 the Home Office confirmed a person who was at the Manston asylum processing centre had died in hospital. Although officials initially said the death was not caused by infectious disease it is now reported that first tests were false negatives, and follow-ups showed diphtheria may have been the cause of the man’s illness.

Diphtheria is a highly contagious infection that affects the nose and throat, and sometimes the skin. It’s rare in the UK because babies and children have been routinely vaccinated against it since the 1940s but there’s a small risk of catching it if you travel to some parts of the world.

Diphtheria can be a serious illness and sometimes fatal, especially in children, if it’s not treated quickly. It is spread by coughs and sneezes, or through close contact with someone who is infected. You can also get it by sharing items, such as cups, cutlery, clothing or bedding, with an infected person.

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman is investigating the death and the case has been referred to the Kent coroner.

There have previously been confirmed cases of diphtheria, scabies and other infectious illnesses at the centre. The government had been offering diphtheria vaccinations to people at the Manston centre.

Small boat Channel crossings have reportedly resumed again today (November 26). More than 40,000 people have entered the UK via this route this year.

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


  1. The sooner the Airport reopens the sooner it can be put to good use to fly the fraudulent asylum seekers out of the UK Dover / Manston plane out of U.K. That is the ONLY way to stop migrants putting their lives at risk. All those who think the migrants should be welcome are helping to put lives at risk by encouraging them to make the dangerous crossings.

    • Well, if the latest epic failure of a Manston Airport(no company has made a profit or broken even since the 1998 Wiggins deal) & combined losses of over 100 million & vast sums of taxpayer cash via KCC wasted on it) does happen it will be years in the future & nobody is prepared to fly them to Rwanda where they can be persecuted/tortured, as the only carrier willing to do so pulled out a month or so back.

      The actual way to stop them putting their lives at risk is to control the borders & get the people smuggling gangs organising it-isn’t that what the Tories in large part got elected on & got Brexit through with promising taking back our borders? Yet record number under them & no realistic plan to stop it, or even to have proper processing centres.

      Afraid that the recent joke announcement of an extra 8 million quid a year to the French shows just how serious the Tories are at stopping it-not at all.

      • 1st Paragraph: Your usual boring stint against Manston re-opening as an Airport.
        2nd Paragraph: Your speculative suggestion about Tories via Labour.
        3rd Paragraph: Your “joke” about the extra £8M to the already £60M p/a payment to France, is no joke. I see no-one laughing.

        IMHO this whole immigrant circus (legal or illegal) should have been STOPPED years ago, unless the migrants are from real war torn countries. Not economic migrants.
        Albanians, Rumanians, are just after our stupid generosity in benefits, and should be returned to their countries, before they can continue with their criminal activities here.
        We have to look after our own, before tackling Foreign problems.

        • who are Rumanians?

          Tories have had 12 years to “We have to look after our own” yet nothing has been done. £29M to Michelle Mone, a Tory Peer, might to more to combat homelessness but that now residing in an offshore trust fund
          BTW it isn’t illegal to use a small boat to cross the channel as Braverman admitted this week but don’t let the truth spoil a racism rant

        • 1. Yes & it is all true-just the usual lies about vast local employment & prosperity people like you keep falling for decade after decade, despite all of them being mostly automated & all of them going bust while you as a taxpayer pick up the bill. As said previously KKC published a report in 2015 that said they were not going to waste any more taxpayer money on it & was totally nonviable as an airport, an independent assessor reaching the same conclusion last year. But hey let’s just do it again.

          2. Via Labour? I wasn’t aware I am a Labour Party member or Councillor. I don’t care much for Starmer, but he is the only alternative to more years of this incompetent & corrupt rabble. It is pretty much the anybody but Trump choice.

          3. It is a joke-because we all know 8 million a year is going to do nothing & is just another pathetic attempt to pander to the Tory faithful, when they know such a tiny amount will make no difference, just like the waste of money Rwanda scheme.

          Well, the government have had 12 years. So you should ask yourself why haven’t they stopped it?

          What benefits are those exactly? Forty quid a week on an Aspen card? That they aren’t allowed to work until their claim has been processed? Cramped into prison camps masquerading as processing centres-with between 2-3 times as many people in there that it was designed to hold & with all types of abuses going on against them.

          These ‘five star’ hotels we keep hearing about, where they get sexually assaulted/raped? Is it any wonder many vanish into the underworld & end up being exploited in various ways at car washes, farms, forced sex work etc?

          Funny that people like you bleat non-stop ala Daily Fail/Sun about the ‘sponging immigrants’ while bowing for a bunch of unelected millionaires & billionaires in palaces who have constantly sponged off the taxpayer for billions over decades & our current monarch who likes going to the Middle East & have despots load up bags with millions that he doesn’t declare.

          Politicians who claim for everything on the taxpayer dime & give their dodgy pals deals they don’t deserve-a ferry contract to a company with no ferries, no experience at running ferries & a T&C stolen from a takeaway website, 9 billion wasted on useless PPE, as the above poster says 29 million to Baroness Boobies etc.

  2. We have a housing shortage in this country.
    Why would that be when we seem to be building on every piece of available land in sight and still can’t keep up?
    All about making huge amounts of money for a few whilst the general public are being screwed into paying for it all and having to suffer lower living standards to boot.
    Criminal, the whole saga stinks from top to bottom. 300.000+ net immigrants per year into this country is not sustainable, and that number is only what Is being admitted to, and only just now.

      • Do you think for one nano-second that Starmer’s charmers would be any better?
        If you do, you are on cloud cuckoo land, they will just leave the borders wide open!
        Steve, get real.

        • Starmer hasn’t even been to Kent since he became Labour leader, despite the urging of MP Rosie Duffield. Most sensible people are hardly going to vote for someone who can’t even be a**ed to see the county’s problems for himself.

          • seems pollsters aren’t asking “sensible” people then seeing as their average rating is currently at 50%.

          • Probably sees there is no point-Roger Gale could be put up for election after his passing & still win.

            One of the most deprived areas in the land will keep voting Blue & cutting off their own balls, moan about it & then do it again as son as enough Daily Mail headlines/false promises get printed in the campaigning.

          • I won’t be voting for Sir Roger next time, not after the way he’s been acting like a bleeding heart socialist lately. We need more MPs like Natalie Elphicke, who puts local people first.

          • She has been very ‘liberal’ about Manston as well. A woman who stood by like a cuckold & watched as her husband sexually assaulted various women in front of of her & his Tory colleagues & like Gale tried to influence the judge in the case via pressure.

            Says a lot about her character & that of the Tories. Then she jumped in & took his seat, while still defending him.

        • No idea, but he couldn’t do any worse. If you run your general election & Brexit on promises of controlling borders & then preside over the highest levels of immigration & have no realistic plans to curb it, then even discarding all the other incompetence you don’t deserve any more time.

  3. dont think those councillors have any sway on the emergency migrant reception center, Councillors they are pictured by nice railings and they can do better with local communities.
    Pls leave the national problems for the PM, local councillors are just that, such bit players who cant sort out trash not collected, local drug+smash your face gangs, dogs pooping every where. pspo’s not adhered to. More to follow.

    So let down with the influencers that dont work for my local community.

    Councillors can add their contact details here for my reply.

  4. Steve. Wow this is interesting “combined losses of over 100 million & vast sums of taxpayer cash via KCC wasted on it)” where can I find proof of this £100million and the fast sums of taxpayers cash paid by KCC to support the previous owners of Manston Airport. KCC paying “CASH” to support the airport. This needs looking into under a freedom of information request. As for the remainder of the money that investors put in that is their choice as long as it wasn’t public money I don’t care. How much is the defunct elect company BULB costing each household in the UK with a potential cost to the public purse of £2.5bn.
    How much have the UK businesses defrauded the government during the Pandemic.

  5. This Tory Government cannot be trusted with running anything properly. People, whoever they are have become no more valued than animals queuing at the slaughterhouse or folk dying waiting for an ambulance or dying outside A&E.

  6. Hello Kathy, thanks for doing this site and putting up with us.
    Please, those councillor archive photos are so in the past. We need to live for the future So please can those councillors issue new photos every quarter for isle of thanet news and other lesser local news sites. its just so us locals can actually them and have a quick chat when they are around.
    just saying that as we wont to live in the real~world, Not theirs.
    Dont want to vote for an incognito. Ta for doing this site.

  7. Don’t worry James I have dyslexia but it did not stop me getting a degree in law at least you are honest which is more than the Tories have ever been. As I have said on here many times the Conservatives have never done anything and I mean anything that has been any benefit to the U.K. in the long term not a thing. Putin actions in Ukraine are a god send to the Tories as a distraction to their incompetence in government. That’s why Johnson / Truss /Sunak keep going to Ukraine.

  8. Does it matter who comes to Thanet as long as they come up with policies that will increase prosperity for all.
    Farage won’t do that because all he knows is hate and division.
    I don’t mind being criticised but at least use the damn spell checker when writing your usual tosh.
    This sums up Thanet.To busy moaning when scholarship and learning is what is needed to transform Thanet from a deprived area to an investment hub.Until that is drilled into everyone’s head it will remain a basket case.This is the ONLY way things are going to get better.Not airports,stations,art galleries or one off schemes,even if they are completed competently.
    Thanet has too many NEET’s,poor levels of educational attainment and worst of all a fatalism that engenders paralysis,and allows fifth rate politicians to maintain the shockingly low standards of leadership in Thanet.
    Those in this HYS who constantly look backward,do so because they have no faith in the future,and no faith in the young people of Thanet.
    It’s a democracy so Bill,Fred,Robster (is that some kind of strange seafood)and P.Checksfield can vote for Farage if he stands in Thanet.Everyone else can look at other more enlightened and forward thinking options.

  9. You mean “TOO busy moaning”.

    As for who I do or don’t vote for, Rosie Duffield would get my vote if she stood in North Thanet (nice to have someone in Labour who understands biology!). Chances are though, the Labour candidate won’t even visit the area, just like their glorious leader.

  10. I do hope the people who were moved out of Manston so quickly were vaccinated and tested for all the diseases that were rife there. Otherwise those illnesses are being dispersed along with the refugees. Disgraceful that they were there in the first place but spreading them among already vulnerable people is cruelty.

    • A sensible comment. Sadly, I suspect that with the pressure from (mostly) the left to quickly move them out, there has been no vaccinations and no quarantine … and anyway, what would happen if they REFUSED to be vaccinated?? Do you believe that they should be forced to have them?

  11. You’re surely not suggesting that “the left” are compassionate, caring and concerned, whilst those on the right are callous, cold-hearted and uncaring?

      • Didn’t you believe that we should’ve all stayed indoors for the best part of 2 years for something that is little more than a cold? Yet you’re happy for people with far worse diseases to be put in hotels nationwide rather than be locked up in one place where they can be medically supervised?

  12. I try to imagine what circumstances would drive me leave my family, home, job, town, country, language and culture to travel perilously across continents, culminating in a potentially lethal sea crossing, to arrive in a country and be greeted by the likes of Thanet Lad and Peter Checksfield.
    Never mind threats of sending people to Rwanda. Just publish the IoTN more widely.

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