Council leader says Home Office has confirmed permanent removal centre plan for Manston

Manston processing centre Photo Louis McLaren

Confirmation that a permanent removal centre is planned at Manston alongside the current asylum seeker processing centre has been received from the Home Office, says Thanet council leader Rick Everitt.

Cllr Everitt initially wrote to then immigration minister Robert Jenrick MP about the matter last November, prompted by information from Kent County Council that the government was planning to build the secure migrant removal centre at Manston with accommodation for 360 people at the outset, later to rise to 700.

Last August The Isle of Thanet News revealed that Manston processing centre was one of three sites where survey work was to be carried out as part of proposals for ‘rapid construction’ at immigration premises.

The Home Office agreed a £1.1million contract with UK construction firm Laing O’Rourke  for “Design Services for a detained accommodation solution.”

£700m programme

In December a contract published by government, with an estimated value excluding VAT of £700m over a term of 6 years, said: “The Home Office is currently transforming the site at Manston to establish permanent, purpose-built facilities, coordinated by the Manston Transformation Programme.

“The Programme is looking for partner(s) to deliver a suitable operation and wrap around services for the operations at Western Jet Foil and Manston, plus Medical Services, for an initial term of 6 years with an option to extend for an additional 2 x 24 month periods.”

At that time the Home Office said new detention sites under the contract were not yet confirmed and Manston would continue to operate as a short term processing facility.

But at a Thanet council meeting last night (February 22), Cllr Everitt said: “In December I referred to the government’s plans to establish a secure migrant removal centre at Manston and its failure to engage properly with this council over that.

“At that time there was some scepticism on the other side over the truth of this situation.

“Since then I have met online with Home Office ministers who confirm this is their intention alongside the existing processing centre.

“It is for government to communicate its plans to the public. The officials said when we met that that would have been done by now. I can only conclude that the government is embarrassed by the apparent logical disjunction between its claim that it will stop the boats and its intention to make a major long term investment on detaining and removing the people who arrive on them but perhaps an election is due.

“North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale made a rather strange public intervention claiming these facilities could be handed over to this council to accommodate Thanet residents requiring temporary accommodation.

“This was as much news to the Home Office as it was to us. It is not a likely scenario.”

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Illegal Migration Act means people who come to the UK illegally are detained and promptly removed, to their home country or a safe third country.

The Home Office says Manston is a short term holding facility where the vast majority of arrivals stay for 24 hours or less.

Manston Transformation Programme

A Manston Transformation Programme has been established to develop the site and an End-to-End Manston Readiness Board has also been established, bringing together senior leaders from across the Home Office.

In October and November 2022, the processing centre at Manston became overwhelmed with some 4,000 people. It is designed to hold between 1,000 and 1,500 people as  temporary short-term accommodation while immigration checks are made.


  1. i feel sorry for people that own properties in that area , but then thanet has been dumping ground for all and sundry for years so perhaps its no surprise , i dont think that councilor has much of a future for himself either

      • I’m sorry but I can’t ever see that open up as an airport. To many fingers in pies, it will be developed on,
        2 -3000 properties, look at all that council tax and no facilities.

        • RSP could have flown from Manston years ago. Once they’d bought the land from SHP, there were only a few formalities (such as a CAA licence) and they could have been up, up and away.
          I wonder why they aren’t?

    • Right get Real World! This “Illegal Migration Act” is a nonsense, dreamed up by the rabid right MP’s in the hope that it will appear the government is actually doing something! It says in the article “The Act means people who come to the UK illegally are detained and promptly removed to their home countries or a safe third country”. But what if their home countries don’t want them back? Currently only Albania has an agreement with the UK to accept their citizens back, but for instant the 2nd or may be 3rd largest contingent are Turkish, and the Turkish government is not accepting them back!

      Most people coming here one way of the other do not have passports, and can’t prove what their nationality is! They may say they are from Iran or even Iraq, or Syria, but they can’t prove it, so how will they be returned to their “Home Country”. I knew of an Indian being held in a Removal Centre for 6 years, because India refused to accept him back. He had worked as chef in this country for over 20 years, and his former employer was desperate to have him back! Sending people to a third country like Rwanda can only deal with a couple of hundred at any one time, so thats a no no too, and probably illegal! I can’t be bothered to read any of the probably ill informed, ignorant, and just plain dumb comments that will probably follow this, but live in hope that a government may get elected to sort this mess out, best by rejoining the EU then we won’t have the problem of boat people>

      • I’ve zero sympathy for them. If I was escaping from a war-torn country, I’d much rather settle in Italy, Germany or France than in the UK.

      • Complete agreement with you, leaving the EU has made this problem Fare grater, anyway leaving turned out great,not for us though,this will never go away and the boat people will coming,it’s are own doing and this government have messed up , time for a change I would say

          • Millions agree with re-joining the EU Ms Pink (AKA Peter Checksfield) And the reason why many Asylum Seekers/Refugees come to the UK instead of other countries is because they don’t speak German, French, or any other European country, but mayb speak English. Having said that Germany has taken in millions of refugees, so has France and most other EU countries!

  2. i think you are right there philip , the brown envelopes for a racket that big will need a low loader to drop them off

  3. Only in Thanet would people tolerate the last 4 decades of MPs and Cllrs that struggle to meet the dizzy heights of mediocrity, have no genuine new ideas, and hang on to the 50s and 60s with hope Manston is the answer to all the issues in thanet. What utter rubbish, wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else. Out them all, specially the MPs.

    • How can you read this article and conclude that what is happening here has anything to do with councillors?

      • Bluntly Honest – they could express an opinion on behalf of us residents!! Not likely though as this would require imagination and common sense

  4. Makes sense, start it as a welcome processing centre, then once Manston airport is up and running, turn the facility in to a last stop processing centre before being sent to, say, Rwanda.

  5. The funny thing about RSP is their front man lives in a shed on site,they often have trouble grubbing up the necessary to pay for fees etc, but they talk in hundreds of millions about this project.
    There must be someone or a small group that is prepared to take a punt, certainly enough to buy at least some of the site, but after all this time, the consortium funding this scheme is still unknown.
    Bearing in mind that RSP has made it very clear that only freight is anticipated,we still seeing daft projections about cheap flights to all sorts of European centres, so someone is clearly away with fairies.
    Rwanda is another daft idea, but in that case the government has spent your taxes on shovelling funding to the Rwandan government in Manstonian proportions to the tune of £400m. I hope ‘ Real world’and ‘Ms Pink’ are happy funding jobs,that is Rwandan jobs.A win win for Rwanda, not Thanet.

    • The facilities at the Rwandan centre can accommodate 200 max. If our government has coughed up £400M (so far), that’s £2,000,000 per asylum seeker. The accommodation must be fabulous!

      • He also believes that I – a non-driver – roams around Thanet in a psychedelic pink car. Losing the plot a bit, methinks.

    • George, can you or someone approach Centre Parks to see if they would be interested in taking Manston on as one of their holiday centres? The runway could be used for surf boarding if it was suitably filled with water, and had a wave machine installed! Just a thought, and it would provide year round jobs for hundreds!

      • These are the ideas that will generate massive employment, little environmental impact, and bring millions of pounds to Thanet and a wider area, center parks or other similar, near villages, historic Canterbury, Richborough Castle, pretty Sandwich and Broadstairs and Ramsgate, people will not fly in for these places when better options exist, but will travel here for family camping and similar holidays from near Europe and all over the UK.

  6. No, not really. You know gaslighting is not a commendable attribute for someone to have.
    I do know that the leading hand at RSP was living in an outbuilding of the site, a shed in other words.He may have moved since.
    As for Ms Pink, as a non driver how did she travel from Birchington to Thanet Parkway as there is no connecting bus service? Surely, she would agree that the lack of connectivity at Thanet Parkway is a problem,and KCC as promoter of the bus service improvement plan, ought to sort out the problem. What’s the point of a BSIP if this sort of nonsense occurs?
    Rwanda is not quite so wonderful because we are accepting asylum seekers from Rwanda, because being an opposition figure in Rwanda is not a healthy option.
    May I remind you that £400m would fix a lot of pot holes or build a lot of much needed social housing or insulate a lot of poorly insulated houses.
    It is the tactic of the poorly informed to disparage or allege madness of those putting cherished assumptions to the sword, and it’s not a good look

    • Let me think now, how did I get to a train station that is not near I live… by TRAIN!!! Surely even you could’ve worked that one out?

      You really do need to get out more.

  7. Our MPs have allowed Thanet to deteriorate for years. Hopeless and helpless. Just more dumping in Thanet. We live in a tip at best.

  8. Hang on.So to get to London by fast train, you travel to Thanet Parkway assuming stopping trains call there, and then wait for the fast train, which would have originated at Ramsgate,by avoiding getting off at Ramsgate where you would have two choices of Fast train Please tell me the logic behind that!
    So, you don’t drive, there are no buses, but you will join a train part way of the track to avoid using Ramsgate, and your telling me that I am the Dumbo here.
    Ms Pink words fail me.It’s like shooting yourself in the foot because you don’t believe in gun control.

    • Who said I got the fast train?? Not me. I was asked if I’d used the station, and I said I had… to get off and stroll back to Ramsgate via the pubs of Pegwell Bay.

      You’re great at jumping to conclusions by reading things that aren’t there.

  9. Great work guys.Reading the comments, it’s staggering to note that a story about a permanent IRC at Manston descended so quickly into a sniping match between the usual suspects.

  10. I give up.Your steadfast incorrigibility in making a white elephant into some kind of positive,is in the Ukraine is only being occupied for it’s own good, league of cognitive dissonance.
    Ramsgate station is nearer to Pegwell and it’s pubs than Thanet Parkway and there are buses from Ramsgate that would take you, at least part of the way.

    • I’m aware of that you fool, but we like to walk via the Viking Ship and (sometimes) the nature reserve. Unlike you, we enjoy exercise and fresh air.

      Now, going to admit you got it all wrong?

    • So to walk to ramsgate and viking reserve is great from parkway, for the 3 months of the year its not blowing a Gale or pouring with rain, or worse. Is it any good and accessible for Disabled people, if not how inclusiveis the stationand the walk?

      • Walks aren’t inclusive because disabled people can’t, erm, walk? I’ve heard it all now. Oh, and some of us walk every day of the year – certainly that relatively short 3 or 4 mile stroll isn’t a problem for this 60+ year old, regardless of the temperature.

        Like Nokes, you really need to get out more.

  11. Ms Pink has totally misunderstood or twisted what I said and disabilities moron are not confined to not being able to walk. The intent was is there a solid good footpath all th way from parkway to the places you mentioned or is there even a short section of unmade ground? If your still having difficulty understanding, let me know and as difficult as it is I will try and find you a pop up book. I will now wait for your spelling corrections or clever reply which your not even qualified to give.

    • No need for rudeness, boy.

      There are pavements from the station to the beginning of the places I mentioned. However, some paths after that are muddy and rutted… NOT a problem for seasoned walkers of any age. But don’t take my word for it, try it yourself lad.

  12. It could have an appropriate path, for wheelchair users, people on crutches, parents with prams, persons with prosthetics, persons with mobility scooters and so on. So not inclusive is it. Clearly those equalities do not concern you, must be a tory with the philosophy of I’m alright jack.

    • Clearly you never go for country walks. How do you think farmers and land owners would feel if we put tarmac on all the public footpaths that go through their livestock, crops and woodland?

      Clearly, you’re a lazy socialist who needs to get out into the real world more.

      • I also read books that blind people can’t see and listen to music that deaf people can’t hear. That’s how uncaring I am.

  13. When you know something about me, you can make an accurate comment however your ignorance and determination to be clever and have the last word, make you a fool. Here is one for you, better to be thought a fool, than open your mouth, or in this case, go to print and remove all doubt.

    • It was a serious question: should we tarmac over every public footpath that goes through farms – many thousands in Kent alone – to make them more accessible? What IS the answer? I’m genuinely curious.

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