Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Home Office not planning Napier Barracks replica in Hastings, says HBC

Hastings Borough Council is not aware of any Home Office plans for an accommodation centre for asylum-seekers in the town, the Refugee Buddy Project was relieved to hear when it recently met council representatives. Nick Terdre reports.

As far as Hastings Borough Council is aware, the Home Office is not planning to set up an accommodation centre in the town, despite strong rumours to this effect.

The information emerged at a recent meeting of representatives of the Refugee Buddy Project, Hastings, Rother and Wealden, with Cllrs Kim Forward, council leader, and Andy Batsford and assistant director Housing and Built Environment Andrew Palmer.

Despite the outcry caused by the scandalous treatment of asylum-seekers consigned to the Napier Barracks in Folkestone, the Home Office is known to be seeking other centres for accommodating large numbers of asylum-seekers – there were originally more than 400 crowded into Napier Barracks.

HOT understands from refugee support group sources that the Home Office had its eyes on a premises in Hastings that would have been almost as unsuitable as the Napier Barracks.

Whether the government department has definitively given up on Hastings is not certain – it has a track record of not keeping local authorities in the loop on such matters.

The Refugee Buddy Project said the council’s assurance was “good news, not because we don’t want more people seeking refuge in our town but because the use of in-community housing, as is currently used in Hastings and St Leonards, is considered best practice by us and many other migrant and refugee organisations.”

More humane

Rossana Leal, founder of the group, added: “In-community accommodation, whilst not without its problems, is a far more humane approach to housing people seeking refuge in our community than single accommodation sites.

“We look forward to continuing our relationship with the Council to provide a coordinated approach to support and welcome for everyone seeking refuge in our community.”

The group says community welcome and support for those seeking asylum is one of the six campaign areas it is concentrating on this year, along with safe passage, education, vaccines for all, the Fair Immigration Reform Movement and an end to deportations.

More information about these campaigns, and how to get involved, can be found on its social media channels and website.

“Although our community café remains closed due to coronavirus, in these uncertain times of lockdown and isolation, we recognise that connection is key,” the group says.

“The pandemic has been a difficult time for many of us and we must not forget those communities that have little or no access to essentials such as food, clothing and phone credit, which is vital to ensuring families stay connected at this time. We are working to ensure such necessities are available to people seeking refuge in our community.”


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Posted 10:59 Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 In: Politics

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