Plaid Cymru slams UK Government over plans to house migrants on military bases
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts has hit out at plans for the UK Government to house migrants on military bases and potentially disused ferries.
Sky News has reported that the move is expected to be announced by ministers within weeks as they seek to stop the use of hotels for migrant accommodation.
Penally military camp in Pembrokeshire and the Napier barracks in Kent were both used as makeshift accommodation for asylum seekers from September 2020.
The Penally site was closed in March 2021, but the Napier barracks continued to be used as a holding site for people who arrived in the UK in small boats until late last year.
During the autumn, thousands of people had been placed in tents there, leading to overcrowding and disease.
“Inspectors described the Penally barracks in Pembrokeshire as ‘impoverished, run-down and unsuitable’. They found the vast majority of people housed there to be feeling depressed and hopeless, Ms Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru’s Home Affairs spokesperson said.
“Penally was thankfully shut down and people were moved to more appropriate accommodation. But this Tory Government learned nothing from their failures.
“Reports of plans to move asylum seekers to army bases within weeks shows yet again that this Tory Government is driven by cruelty not policy outcomes.”
A report by the Independent Chief Inspector of Borders and Immigration (ICIBI) published in 2021 highlighted the deteriorating mental health of residents in both Penally and Napier barracks camps and described them as “filthy” and “impoverished”.
The former chief inspector, David Bolt, also wrote to Priti Patel, the then home secretary, criticising her department’s failure to consult local authorities over the use of the camps and its “wholly inadequate” health assessments, and “extremely poor” communications.
The Welsh Government revealed that neither they or Pembrokeshire Council were consulted by the Home Office or Ministry of Defence about proposals to use Penally to house asylum seekers and First Minister Mark Drakeford accused the Home Office of failing to address “serious issues” regarding living conditions at the camp.
Plans to house asylum seekers at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire were met with fierce opposition from locals and politicians earlier this week.
The airfield, which closed last year, is the former home of The Red Arrows aerobatics display team and the Dambusters – and could house about 1,500 asylum seekers.
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