County Councillor Karen Constantine Seeing Red: Manston excess food pile – what a waste

Cllr Karen Constantine

I was shocked to find out that an appalling amount of food is being wasted at the Manston immigration holding facility. Apparently staff are working hard to offload a huge quantity of excess food and stock is being offered to a variety of projects in Thanet.

These are items that have been bought in bulk, stored and are now close to their ‘best before’ date. The items that I saw, stacked floor to ceiling in vast quantities, were high sugar drinks, cheap pot noodle style snacks, and packs and packs of cheap sugar rich long-life croissants. I’m led to believe that there are two hangers full of provisions and that more food is being ordered all the time!

It’s not only an issue of efficient stock holding and waste management. Given the track record of the Tories, I now want to know exactly what food and how much food is being ordered and stored? What are the values of those contracts? And exactly how are those contracts being fulfilled? Put simply how much is the taxpayer forking out for a cheap pot noodle and who’s making a fat profit?

I hear Mitie has won a contract at Manston worth £50M, their website boasts that their Care & Custody services, ‘deliver a range of critical public services to vulnerable adults within the immigration, justice and care sectors. We believe public services should drive positive outcomes for citizens, as well as best value.’ Surely, they can’t think cheap food, largely devoid of nutritional value and this last minute offloading of stock is good value? For £50M the very least I’d expect is effective stock management and high quality, nutritious fresh food.

We all know how expensive food has become during this on-going cost of living crisis. Surely, we should be entitled to expect genuine value for money? And I know I’m a little old fashioned in this respect, but transparency is also vital.

Sadly, this is typical of our Tory Government and another example of them not being competent to run a service, and then blaming a voiceless group for their own failures. I’m sure we’ve all seen through this tired Tory blame game. Who is making these decisions? Who is monitoring the impact? I’ve written to the Home Office for clarification.

This has become all the more important because the recent history of the immigration holding facility at Manston has been, shall we say, checkered and of course, what goes on there is largely a mystery. Very few people can gain access. You won’t be surprised to read that I believe that’s wrong. Especially as of May 21st the hours allowed to hold people increased from 24 to 96, under the ‘Short-term Holding Facility (STHF) Rules 2018 (“the STHF Rules”)’ by means of a negative Statutory Instrument (which) came into force on 5 January 2023.

The rules create a new type of short-term holding facility, known as a residential holding room, in which individuals may be detained for up to 96 hours, extendable in exceptional circumstances if authorised by the Secretary of State.’ (My emphasis.)

This is a significant change. And the letter I received from the Home Office makes it clear that detention times could be expected to increase.

When Manston first opened as a immigration holding facility many members of the public contacted me to ask how they could reach out and support these refugees on our doorstep. Demonstrating an open, caring, inclusive mind-set that many people are rightly proud of. We never received a cogent reply. I think now is the right time to build bridges between our communities, and for decent people to be able to show their humanity, care and concern, whether that’s by reaching out as a friendly voice on the end of the phone, via befriending visits, or by donations of clothes and toiletries. I’ve asked again and I’m awaiting a response. As an absolute minimum I’d like access as their councillor.

Of course, it would be simpler and cheaper to implement a process that allows people to claim asylum without crossing the Channel. This would undercut the people smugglers and mitigate the risk to life. We’re paying a huge amount of money for a failing system.

Sticking with Manston, the Judicial Review is being heard on the 5th and 6th July, here’s the link if you’d like to donate Support Judicial Review of SECOND Manston Airport DCO  Speaking of which, I wish I had a pound (to add to my donation to this good cause) for every social media post where someone claims ‘If it isn’t an airport we’ll end up with housing!” So, for the last time, we aren’t being offered a choice. It isn’t either an airport (er… automated air cargo hub) or housing. The fact is central Government set the housing target and Thanet District Council has to provide the land. It’s the same everywhere. I’m against the air cargo hub principally because of the proven, hugely deleterious impact on our health, and also because it’s become such a political smokescreen, behind which, both our MP’s hide their continuing failure to boost our economy. It’s always Jam tomorrow with the Conservatives isn’t it?

How marvellous then, in this era of industrial scale gas lighting and deliberate, misinformation to hear former Tory chairman Lord Patten issue a damning warning about the current Conservative Party. Talking about the U.K. economy and the impact of Brexit, he says ‘Our GDP per capita now is less than not only France, Germany and the Netherlands, it’s lower than Ireland, it’s lower for heaven’s sake than Lithuania. The poorest 20% in Britain are poorer than the poorest 20% in Poland.’ We are a lot poorer now!

Which brings me to my final point which is about our young people, the teens, yes them.  Some people love to hate ‘em! But what are we doing to them and for them? And more to the point what should we be doing?

We are undoubtedly living through the most challenging times for decades, certainly in my lifetime (I’m sixty.) I’ve never known such a worrying, tense or complex time. The news is endlessly depressing; Our ‘media’ is on all day and every day; the climate emergency; the perils of AI; A failing global economy; War; Cost of living crisis; Housing shortage; the list goes on and on.

It feels as if our country is being dismantled around us, as one wag said, ‘If this country was car – it would be up on bricks.’ I feel baffled and blindsided about what is the best way forward, often uncertain about my own life choices, both big and small – I know many friends feel similarly. Life has become extraordinarily complex. I’d ask that we all stop for a minute and think how that must feel for our younger citizens?




Little wonder this has been termed the age of anxiety or VUCA –

‘Volatility: the rate at which change occurs in economy, polity or the world in general.

Uncertainty: the inability to predict the future.

Complexity: the myriad factors that are interconnected and impact us.

Ambiguity: confusion as to how to interpret global events and day to day occurrences.’

It’s no surprise that adolescence mental health is becoming such a concern. All the time despite the efforts of parents, teachers and professionals I see examples of unmet mental health needs. Sometimes I just observe our young people and they don’t always seem happy. There seems to be both higher expectations and more roadblocks for them to navigate, a complexity that hasn’t previously existed.

This is why the NYA – National Youth Agency – is carrying out a national census to influence decisions about funding at a national level, and they say it will also help to show areas where there is need identified. I hope youth workers and other interested parties across Thanet state the case for our corner of Kent. Here’s the link National Youth Sector Census – NYA The National Youth Work Census will be important because it helps us to show that there is a need for youth service’s.

I can’t help feeling that young people are getting a raw deal… and that we should be investing a lot more in them.


  1. this whole thing is scandolous , what other country would carry on like this – what ever happened to looking after our own ? by the way its £30,000 a year to look after them if you want a job at that centre , but no one hears about that ?

  2. Anyone remember the content of the note left for the incoming government in 2010 by the last Labour Chief Secretary of the Treasury? Following Brown’s mammoth gold sale and money printing.

    “Sorry there is no money left”.

    • And for the past dozen years, the Tories have continued the good work.
      Ie moving public money into private (off shire tax haven) bank accounts.
      You really can’t blame Labour for the dire financial position this country is in – the worst of the G7.

      • Lush. You are factually mistaken. We were given a donation of Lush products and we were explicitly told we could sell them to raise money for the Labour Party. I organised a sale. Two days later I was contacted by the person who made the donation and was told that she had made a mistake. That she couldn’t donate these goods (given to her charity). I immediately donated all the money raised to local charity. I was guided by my Party official to issue an apology which said I apologised for not knowing the rules about such donations. For fullness, the police were not involved, I was not subject to Standards process at either council I was a member of. At that time I was also a serving magistrate and I continued to serve.

        • Cllr Constantine works for an institutionally racist political party. Rather than trying to explain away their dodgy donation antics they should probably apologise for their continued association with bigots.

    • Yes Harry,it all seems rather quaint and small scale compared to the mass squandermania we have seen since 2010.
      Gordon Brown had his failings but are we riding the crest of a wave of prosperity now?

    • Good job the Tories will leave a massive cash surplus behind when they leave. What’s that? they won’t?

  3. Or on the other hand, you’re catering on a very short term basis for an unknown and variable number of people , having no idea of what numbers will be there from one week to the next, so you need quick easy calories that can be stored for reasonable periods of time.
    Would it not be better to berate the electorate in general as their choices of food and the obesity issue the nation has?

    • Did you not see the programme last night on “Ultra Processed Foods”? The obesity problem can be laid firmly at the door of manufacturers of junk food, thats full of salt, fat, sugar, and millions of chemicals that have no nutritional value, but make you fat! And its cheap!

  4. Free food for them while some people in Thanet are struggling to make ends meet. It will be good to hear from ALL councillors, Town and Council, how they intend to address the situation and proof that it is working, from the people who need help, or, as I suspect, just propaganda on their, and their party’s part.

  5. Just think an operative airport could potentially create employment and work experience for the younger generation.

    • Your delusional R. At least 4 attempts to operate airlines from Manston have failed why? Well, the reason was there was no demand for it. The same will happen if the chocolate tea pot MP’s for Thanet get their way and Manston is granted a DCO, which is unlikely, but which they are promoting because they think it will be a vote winner at the next General Election. Well, the recent District elections showed the people of Thanet, especially if they live in the CT11 postal code area, do not want Manston to re-open, why? Because it will operate as a cargo hub, no passengers will fly from it, and low flying aircraft over Ramsgate harbour and up the High street, will devastate and devalue property, and businesses!

  6. Blame Gale. It was hh who demanded that all the migrants were quickly put in luxury accomodation elsewhere.

  7. “Sticking with Manston” – HUH ?? The Home Office Immigration Centre near Manston Village has nothing to do with Manston Airport and the forthcoming Court case to discuss if the Secretary of State made any legal errors in his DCO decision letter.

  8. automated air cargo hub Factually wrong, so the training I am about to do, which is air cargo related, will be a waste of mine and other local residents time.
    Those in the poorest parts of the Thanet community welcome the cheap sugary food, as long as it helps us sleep at night without feeling cold and hungry.
    This woman, spouting her ill informed facts and making stuff up, it is a disgrace, and using this space to beg for money for a cause that goes against the majority of Thanet’s residents.
    Typical local NIMBY attitude.

    • See my earlier post re: ultra processed food, you pillock! Junk food is a major cause of obesity, which costs us £billions every year due to diabetes, organ failure, including heart attacks, amputations, and other avoidable illnesses! Money that could be better spent on employing more nurses, doctors, and other NHS staff!

      • No , as per my post above, it’s predominantly a result of what people choose to eat, the quantities they eat and the amount of exercise they do or do not do. There is only a very tiny proportion of the population who don’t have the opportunity to control their weight.

  9. So the teens of today are deprived and need money invested in them. YES! There is £500 Million of Private Investment waiting to be ploughed into Manston Airport, which will include the Manston Education Board, waiting in the wings (pardon the pun) to provide lots of aviation-related apprenticeships for local teenagers, but people like Cllr Constantine, Labour run TDC and RTC object to it. Shame on you. Also read the Rockford Cargo Hub research, proving that dedicated cargo hubs, away from main passenger airports, cause far less pollution!

    • There is no £500 million.
      This is the sum that RSP thought (a couple of years ago) that it would cost to develop the airport.
      RSP made it clear during the DCO Examination that, should the DCO be successful, invitations to invest would be made to interested parties.
      And, if RSP actually did have the money, well, they own the land, so there’s nothing in principle to stop them applying for a CAA licence and planning permission from the Local Authority.

    • It’s cute you actually believe there is 500million ready to go. It’s a made up figure of money they “could seek to invest” – same as the “up to 50,000 jobs” it’ll less than 500….

      You believed the red bus too didn’t you? Perhaps learn from your mistake

  10. Nobody actually knows what percentage of Thanet’s residents would like to have a cargo-hub airport just outside Ramsgate or not.

    • Doesn’t really matter as there is so much propaganda that no-one knows the truth. All I can contribute is that creating jobs has to be a good thing. Creating housing in an area with no jobs and no support services doesn’t seem to be a sensible option unless you want to continue to be a depressed area with no prospect of improvement. Thanet used to be a thriving area where the rich and famous spent their summers, now it is where prison releases, london borough poor elderly and illegal immigrants are relocated, without the services to supprt them.

      • Well Ducs, Folkestone & Hythe council have just given approval for a developer to build 8,000 properties on a disused race course, just out of town! No developer will build property if they can’t sell it, they will do their home work first, sorry for the pun.

    • Never have polls shown less than around 80% support for the Manston Airport cargo hub. Read any poll, whether it be local, Mori, The Sun Newspaper, etc. Even when Stone Hill Park (aka Ann Gloag) owned it, their own poll showed almost 80% support for the airport, which no doubt disappointed them. Unfortunately can’t add photos here to prove it.

      • Only people living in the CT11 postal area should be polled to see if they want Manston to re-open, as its they who will be most affected by loss of jobs in the town, harbour, and suffer extra respiratory, and other health problems! And of course the devaluation of their property, because no one will want to live under the flight path of filthy cargo planes flying in at less than 300 meters high!

        • So according to your statement those of us that us that live in Manston, Minster and Cliffs End and will be more affected than most when the cargo hub opens and come under Ramsgate but with ct12 postcode should not be allowed to have a say

          • Well I submitted drawings and calculations to the Planning Inquiry showing cargo aircraft will fly in over Ramsgate Harbour at less than 300 meters high! They then fly up Ramsgate High Street, and over Ellington park at around 200 meters high, and 150 to 100 meters high over Nethercourt, before landing! So, unless an aircraft is lost it should not fly over Minster, and Cliffs End, unless its taking off! It should then fly over Herne Bay at a low altitude, but may take a swift right or left turn depending on the wind!

            I witnessed cargo planes flying in over Ramsgate Harbour some years ago when I collected money for an animal charity on Saturday mornings outside Wilko. The aircraft were being used to train pilots on what was known as “tip and run” whereby they landed at Manston, but took off again without stopping. When this happened no one saw the aircraft approach from Ramsgate Harbour, and it left people screaming in fear as the aircraft flew over Ramsgate High Street! My guess is anyone holidaying in Ramsgate will not return if they experience similar noise and air pollution, or use the pubs and restaurants!

  11. Why do politicians only talk about the failings of the other side, in order to look good. They perhaps could use the dynamic benefits brought about by their policies last time they ran the country. Oh no neither side could rely on their past performance. So we particularly tax payers are being treated like drug mules for whatever government is in power. In truth we are disenfranchised WE NEED A PARTY THAT CARES ABOUT OUR ECONOMY, AND OUR WORKERS Not a power crazy mob of sociopaths who lie cheat PARTY DRINK OR GIVE ALL OUR GOLD AWAY

    • Because they all so ideologically fixated and shouting from the margins thst the halfway sensible middle ground is never heard, then when they get the levers of power the changes have to be radical and again ideologically fixated with the unrealistic hope of changing things in 5 years, rather than there being a long term and steady path to reform. Plus of course both sides are too busy trying to buy the votes of the non productive and socially expensive that they ignore the sectoions of so iety that created the wealth and are net contributors. An old fashioned approach of only spending what you earn and making real investments would be a good start.

      • A good example of the distortions in politics the country in general, albanians represent 1.57% of the prison population despite being just 0.03% of the population , so are over represented in prison by a factor of over 50. Given how serious an offence has to be these days to go to prison then it is not unreasonable to come to the conclusion that overall Albanian migration to the UK is not in the countries interest, but being the infantilised nation that we have become the current fixation seems to be on the shenanigans of morning tv celebrities. Quite when did the nation become so superficial and happy for our leaders to ignore obvious issues?

  12. Left vs right false illusion of choice. Anxiety levels up due to those who tune into constant fear propaganda across most media platforms, while any real debate or truth or analysis are stifled and censored constantly. And now we see the report from John Hopkins and Lund universities detailing the destructive results of lockdowns – which Labour was a cheerleader for as well. What a cowardly group most MPs and politicians were (with a few exceptions) from all parties.

    • Fact: lockdowns were destructive. Disrupting people’s lives and livelihoods is bound to have consequences.
      Fact: coronavirus is a deadly disease. To let it run unchecked through the population would have had consequences. Ask Boris Johnson.
      For the World’s leaders, it was a case of choosing the lesser of two evils.

      • But the 400 bn thrown up the wall would have saved / far more lives than those notionally saved as a result of the covid measures, but it’s all a mute point as there’s no going back and the fall out is baked into the nations systems , especially the nhs. My personal view is that more will perish from the afternath than the actual virus , additionally those that perish in said aftermath will generally die earlier than they would ortherwise have in contrast to those lost through covid who on average were getting on a bit.

        • I think LC you mean moot as in a moot court which allows law students to present evidence in a court like setting. Mute means silent or quiet, which you are not.
          I agree that £400Bn was probably misspent and that we will all spend our lives repaying it, but not in the way you think.
          Who cares what your personal view is, you are not a scientist or a doctor, just a lonely key board warrior getting his beard caught up in his sandals.
          We have had a functioning education system since 1870, yet for all the good it has done, we may as well have not bothered, when you have to listen to all the unscientific claptrap of the anti vax brigade. Many of us lost friends and relatives in the Covid pandemic, and it pains me to listen to ill thought out misinformation from the unhinged, who are still living and breathing, where as some of our friends and relatives are not, because the vaccine came through too late.
          You are given the grace to be able to state your misguided, ill informed case, but in return I can state without a scintilla of doubt, that you are an idiot.

          • No, i was trying to say that a counter argument is not given given and so is muted as after the event it’ll not make much difference , plus of course it’s not in the interst of the authorities to have their actions questioned too to great a degree.
            However thank you for the insight into the english language and its meanings. Like everyone my education and benefits from it fall in the middle of a very broad curve, that some consider that position to be one of an idiot causes me no offence just as my views are nothing more than something for consideration ,then discarded or retained as deemed fit.
            It’s all part of lifes rich tapestry.

  13. Well LC, so far over 226,000 people have died in the UK as a result of Covid, and the vast majority (I saw reported 90%) were people who were anti-vaxers, so hadn’t been vacinated, Duurh!

    • At no point have i spoken out against the vaccines, ( though i chose not to have it) to date i’m not aware that i’ve had covid. Of the 226,000 that died i’d hazard a guess covid was the final straw, for others being grosslymoverweight and unfit was their undoing , for others still it was an underlying condition and they died with covid rather than because of it. How many of those that died did so purely from covid?
      400 billion spent on making people eat a decent balanced diet and take some exercise ( nothing excessive ,but an ability to climb 4 flights of stairs without being in distress) would improve the health of the nation no end and leave plenty for the nhs to deal with the issues it should.
      I’m merely voicing an opinion, others can choose to judge it and myself as they see fit.

  14. Send that food to Ruanda. From our airport at Manston.
    Oh no, more jobs result in less poverty and less poverty means less votes for Labour.
    That surplus of food was just another excuse to blame the Tories in this chat.
    Looking from the sideline it’s sooo easy to play the blame game. And so low as well.
    Finally, a quick reminder: people risking their life in dinghies on the channel are not fleeing a war: they are escaping a high risk country. All that Pain, Vin et du Boursin would eventually make them unhealthy with obesity…

  15. Cllr Constantwhine would see red, her primary colour, and certainly her natural leaning.
    As an avid Corbynista that’s only to be expected…
    As stated above, it’s practically impossible to predict the numbers to be arriving for processing at Manston at any given time..Therefore there has to be prepared contingency planning in place …That includes a lot of logistics, beds, bedding, clothing, washing facilities, health assessments and treatment, and of course food.
    Common sense dictates that the food provided must be suitable for the ethnic and religious groups that are being processed…A lot will have a short shelf life.
    That is not disputed.
    However as usual the very vocal Labour KCC member criticises loudly, but again offers no solution nor alternatives…
    Then as a trained Trade Union activist, well versed in Hard Labour politics , she uses the platform to promote the Fundraising to pay for a Judicial Review, in the vain hope that the High Court, will overturn the Manston Airport DCO Decision…
    Please note well, the Home Office Immigration Processing Centre at Manston, is in no way shape or form, linked to Manston Airport.
    Totally separate entities…But of course the fragrant Councillor has chosen to ignore that.
    As usual it’s her tub thumping anti Tory, anti Airport agenda, but with nothing to offer as a solution….
    As a Labour Councillor, she should be more engaged in trying to attract employers to come to Thanet and create work , and jobs with prospects…Not doing everything she can to prevent the very same job creation….
    Something is very remiss….To say I’m sceptical of the motives behind her musings on this platform, is an understatement.

  16. Karen Constantine does not imply that there is any connection between the migrant centre at Manston and the judicial review regarding the proposed cargo-hub airport at Manston. Having commented on the former, she moves on , naturally, to the latter.

    • I’m more of the opinion, that having grabbed the headline, she then used the platform for another of her pet projects, as stated above, there is NO link between the Immigration Processing Centre, and the Airport….
      So M.M. there is no natural progression…

  17. The “natural progression ” comes from the fact that Manston in general is being discussed in Ms Constantine’s article.

  18. Dumpton, I have lived in both Ramsgate high Street near Ellington Park and in Nethercourt, my family and i used to enjoy watching the planes come in even when they were doing the pilot training which was mostly BA the noise never effected us, but you have still not answered why people in ct11 should only have the vote on the airport. Anyway back to the point in hand food at the immigration centre needs to be stockpiled and ready, if people turned up and no food was ready for them, people would moan about that damned if they do damned if they don’t. From where I live I can see into the immigration centre and have never seen anything untoward going on in there, the only problems we have had is when all the protestors arrived blocking the roads all it is is scaremongering by media outlets, when chanel 4 news came knocking at the door asking for an interview and talk about all the bad things that had happened with the immigrants they were left gutted when I turned round and said I had nothing to report asking me am I sure and when watching the report they didn’t show 1 single interview of the immediate local people complaining total scare mongering

  19. Well put, Manston. You demonstrate a common sense approach with a total regard for the facts. The most important fact is that aircraft flying over Ramsgate never bothered us who were born and bred here.
    In fact, they were a bit of excitement to us. They inspired me to join the ATC at Manston and a lifelong interest in aircraft.

  20. I wonder when the sound of aircraft flying over Ramsgate began to “bother” the native population of Ramsgate, as opposed to the namby-pamby postwar/recent incomers.

  21. It would make sense to open manston to transport people from the manston holding centre back to where they came from. Then they can apply to come here like legal immigrants. It would be cheaper to do this than keep paying to house then in hotels

  22. How about taking some of the near out-of-date surplus and donating it to all the local foodbanks so it can be distributed to those locals who are vulnerable and in need but cannot afford to feed themselves. Just a suggestion Councillors !!

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