Kent council chiefs say migrant crisis is putting county “at breaking point” in angry letter to Suella Braverman

The Home Secretary has been told incidents of "far-right activity continue to grow"

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Council chiefs across Kent have said the county is “at breaking point” as a result of the migrant crisis in a letter addressed to Suella Braverman.

In the letter to the Home Secretary, the leaders of 14 authorities including Kent County Council and Medway called on the Government to stop using the county as an “easy fix for what is a national, strategic issue,” claiming they were under disproportionate pressure because of their location.

“The situation at Manston is critical,” the local authority chiefs said, with tension among the detainees and outbreaks of diseases including coronavirus, scabies and diphtheria.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman listens to Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper's response to her statement in the House of Commons, London, where she faced questions about the problems with conditions at migrant holding facilities in Manston, Kent. Picture date: Monday October 31, 2022.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman listens to Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper's response to her statement in the House of Commons, London, where she faced questions about the problems with conditions at migrant holding facilities in Manston, Kent. Picture date: Monday October 31, 2022.

“We now have approaching 4,000 service users contained within segregated marquees as we approach the coldest months of the year, some having been on roll mats for over a month.”

There are “reports of tensions growing and concern about the potential for disorder”.

People thought to be migrants inside the Manston immigration short-term holding facility located at the former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre in Thanet, Kent.
People thought to be migrants inside the Manston immigration short-term holding facility located at the former Defence Fire Training and Development Centre in Thanet, Kent.

As the facilities become “more high profile”, incidents of “far-right activity continue to grow as these sites become a focus for local, regional and national attention, the council chiefs said.

They added that they were “deeply concerned about the potential for a further outbreak of disorder” after the firebombing of another immigration facility in Dover on Sunday.

The letter also said: “Secondary schools in Canterbury and Ashford currently have no year 7 and year 9 places for local children due to the unexpected and therefore unplanned for arrivals of refugee children disproportionately placed by the Home Office in these two local authority areas.”

Four senior MPs have piled further pressure on the Home Secretary to explain how the Government will get to grips with the migrant crisis.

The parliamentary committee chairs have jointly written to Suella Braverman calling for clarity on how the Home Office will cut the number of treacherous small boat crossings and reduce “as a matter of urgency” the backlog in cases currently within the asylum system.

They also express their “deep concerns” over the “dire” conditions at the Manston asylum processing centre in Kent, asking what will be done to address the current situation and avoid overcrowding in future.

The letter states that reports in recent days suggest conditions have “substantially deteriorated” at Manston, and that “unacceptably long stays have increased, including for families and unaccompanied children”.