Permanent immigration removal centre plan for Manston scrapped says North Thanet MP

Manston processing centre Photo Louis McLaren

Home Office proposals to construct an Immigration Removal Centre adjacent to the Asylum Processing Centre at Manston have been shelved, says North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale.

Following representations from the veteran MP, who met with the Home Secretary before Christmas, James Cleverly has this morning confirmed: “I have taken the decision not to proceed with the Immigration Removal Centre at this time.”

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.

In February Thanet council said it had received confirmation that a permanent removal centre was planned at Manston alongside the current asylum seeker processing centre.

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.

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.

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale

Sir Roger said he was pleased the removal centre plan has now been scrapped.

He said: “I am pleased that this Home Secretary has taken on board my concerns. I have been aware for some time that while Ministers have repeatedly said that there will be no `mission creep` at Manston there has been an alternative agenda within the Home Office.

“While the Processing Centre may not be perfect – nothing ever is – I regard it as an efficient and well-run operation that is doing the job that it was established to do.

“ The addition of a Removal Centre – a euphemism for a secure `asylum prison` – would not have been welcomed locally and represents a red line that I would not wish to see crossed.

“The plans to upgrade the reception infrastructure – which I do welcome – will go ahead. This will provide a more efficient and effective processing centre for those still arriving by small boats.

“I am satisfied that the undertakings given by Tom Pursglove as Minister of State before the processing centre opened and reaffirmed by Robert Jenrick and by Suella Braverman , then Home Secretary, are being honoured.”

Rick Everitt

Cllr Rick Everitt added: “I welcome the latest decision but I am very unhappy about the way the situation has been communicated by the Home Office throughout this process and at this point it is difficult for me to have any confidence in anything they tell us.

“My priority has been to ensure transparency for residents, but the evident confusion within the Home Office – no doubt political in origin – has made this extremely challenging.
“I attended a meeting with officials in January at which they were categoric that a secure detention centre was going ahead, having asked them for clarity before Christmas. We were hearing that second hand but it wasn’t what we understood from a previous face to face meeting in the autumn.
“We then learned this week that it was not happening again. It doesn’t appear to me that anyone at the Home Office has a grip on what they are doing from one month to the next.”
Photo Louis McLaren

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. People were facing significantly longer periods in the centre due to the high numbers making small boat crossings. Issues included reported cases of diphtheria, scabies and norovirus.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “We are committed to the removal of foreign criminals and those with no right to be in the UK. Despite record pressure on the asylum system, we reduced small boat crossings by more than a third last year and have a clear strategy to process and accommodate migrants arriving in the UK illegally.

“The Illegal Migration Act will build on this success by changing the law so that people who come to the UK illegally can be detained and then swiftly removed to a safe third country or their home country.”

Separately, the Home Office has said it will hold a statutory inquiry into alleged mistreatment of asylum seekers at the processing centre during 2022,

The High Court granted former detainees permission to seek a judicial review after the Home Office failed to launch an inquiry in December.

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33 Comments

  1. As well as running I’m a prime minister get me out of here contests, are the Tories now appointing home office ministers for the day? Surely old Roger is a bit senior for ministerial appointment?
    If what Roger says is true, then the Home office will confirm it.
    I am not sure this is good news or bad, though I am sure some like Pink (perhaps she should change her name to fawn after her latest posting) want it gone.

  2. Just a bit of election year politics,

    1- announce something unpopular
    2- local mp wades in and has the decision reversed.
    3- lodges a bit of “ look what’s been done for us here and fast” sentiment in a few people

    Cheap easy publicity that isn’t going to get much criticism.

  3. I’m pleased that Sir Roger raised the concerns of his constituents, and the majority of Thanet residents, in the proposals to expand the Asylum Centre at Manston, to accommodate more people for a longer period. That he has been successful is to be applauded.
    The current situation is continuing, with more illegal immigrants arriving on a very frequent basis. They need to be checked, medically, and their immediate needs catered for, including nationality and origin, as well as their asylum application requirements, if appropriate. Not all do !
    The Civil Service is spending many millions of taxpayers monies on this problem, and there seems not to much in the way of joined up thinking nor much accountability.
    Regardless well done Sir Roger for getting this response from the Home Secretary!

    • “They need to be checked, medically, and their immediate needs catered for, including nationality and origin, as well as their asylum application requirements, if appropriate”
      So,if not at Manston, where?

        • It’s only available for a few hours a day. And there’s still the problem of getting refugees, and border force and immigration staff, out there.

      • Phyliss as a former member of the Dover Detainee Visitor Group until the Tory’s removed their grant, I can verify that most people who arrive in the UK by whatever means, will not have any ID, or Passport! What do you think would happen to someone in Iran for instance if they applied for a Passport?

        It was reported recently the most people arriving here were Afghans, the next were Turkish. The Afghans can apply for asylum but the Turks not, so how do they get deported? They don’t because there is only one country receiving failed asylum seekers, and that is Albania, but Turkey won’t! That goes for most other countries, they do not want to receive back people who are not asylum seekers, because they can’t prove who they are, thats why thousands are still being processed here! My experience of the Home Office is they are a joke, but no one is laughing because of the way the destroy peoples lives locking them up when they could be usefully employed!

  4. No, Birchington,in Pink’s bungalow,flat,cave,or den.
    There’s no point in arguing about this,because according to those who jump up and down about immigration, and blame it for Broken Britain, when in fact Britain was broken by the sheer ineptitude of government since 2010.The politicians know this,the public know this, but the appeasers of failure still try desperately to point to other causes.
    Only 6% of immigration is by rubber boat, most just fly in to staff care homes, hospitals and attend university etc.
    Its two years since P+O Ferries sacked the UK seafarers and replaced them with crew from india + the philippines,on £5/hour 12 on 12 off and kept on board.I think I might call that modern day slavery.I would not sail on a ship with a very tired crew, who have different first languages,when encountering a crisis.Apparently this is all quite legal.May be this might be a starting point when taking back control.

    • I’ve never had a job offshore or on a vessel that wasn’t crewed on a 12 hour shift basis. It may haapem somewhere that there are 3 shifts , but must be a big installation/vessel to accomodate and entertain that big a crew. The area of concern would be the length of the trips the indian/ philipino crews do, i’ve been on cessels where they are there for a year at a time, 3 months was always too long for me.

      • Deep sea there is a watch system but as most engine rooms are automated there is no need to man the spaces, just be in call.this means 4 on 8 off.
        With a ferry shuttling back and forth key areas have to be manned and catering is provided on a 24 hour basis, so a system of watches is really a safety issue. What’s more sleeping in board on a vessel which is engaged in constant manoeuvres is not conducive to achieving a state of rest.
        Not only is P&O taking an unwarranted risk with a tired crew, it could be seen as modern slavery. The French are now insisting on workers being paid the french minimum wage, the French!
        We are a banana republic with a shortage of bananas, except for the Banana headed Berks running the government.

      • I started sea life by just signing on and staying until I or to get off 12 hours a day and seven days a week were not unusual then thing changed to four months on one off, still seven days, it was a great life . The ferries were week on week off Among other shifts and the crew who did that got all their tax back so don’t feel to sorry for them.

      • No, most of the immigration is to fill voids in the NHS workforce, as well as agricultural labour, social care etc.6% is a bit low but certainly the vast majority are here on job or educational visas.

  5. Can’t something be done about the click-bait on this site? Advertisements are understandable, but when something claims to be “Leaked pictures of Prince William’s lover”, it’s based on nothiing but lies!

    • It’s a third party Taboola feed, most media have it. For me it means an income stream which keeps the site viable. I have the low level deal which means it only streams under articles and not within them and articles are not on here but on the third party platform. People have a choice on whether to click on them or not.

  6. If it wasn’t for sites like this and freedom of the press, no one would know anything and wouldn’t have anything to moan about or comment on.
    Read it, believe it or not – then move on.

  7. I checked out the data and the migration observatory states that in 2023 67000 claimed asylum out of 1.1m inward migrants, so the 6% figure was not far out. Now not all asylum seekers come by rubber dinghy and inward migration has to be balanced by outward but while the cross channel crossings are eye-catching they are a tiny minority of the total.
    There are mostly male and come from states where making a living or staying alive is difficult. Most when processed by the system are given asylum.
    We therefore would be better to cooperate more fully with the French, allow a safe route to accept asylum claims, speed up asylum processing and forget all about expensive schemes like Rwanda and the Bibby Stockholm.By the way Bibby line is one of our oldest remaining shipping companies and it pains me to see once great names like Bibby Line and P&O operating in their current manner.

    • George when I was a member of the Dover Detainee Visitor Group (many years ago now) the prisoners were largely from Nigeria, the Caribbean, India, Pakistan, and were overstayers! That is they arrived in the UK legitimately but over stayed their visitor/holiday permits etc. I expect it is still happening. Our job was to see the prisoners were not being ill treated, which some were, mainly by the Home Office!

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