Asylum seekers to be housed at site of former Sussex prison under government plans
Asylum seekers crossing the Channel will be housed at the site of a former Sussex prison under government plans.
Proposals would see migrants moved from hotels across the country to Northeye in Bexhill, as well as two disused military bases in Essex and Lincolnshire.
Northeye was built as a military camp during World War Two and served as a prison from 1969 until 1992.
The site was previously used by students from the United Arab Emirates before closing in 2019.
Immigration minister Robert Jenrick told MPs that the sites to house refugees would accommodate their “essential living needs and nothing more”.
He also said that the government was “continuing to explore the possibility” of using ferries and barges to reduce the “eye-watering reliance” on hotels to house those crossing the Channel to Britain.
Huw Merriman, MP for the area, said he will work with the Home Office to reassure residents and allay their concerns about the plans.
He said: “I know that this decision will have an impact on local authorities and public services.
“It will also be of great concern to local residents.
“It is important that the community is fully appraised of the proposals and reassured as to the impact.
“I will be meeting with the Immigration Minister and officials at the Home Office tomorrow to take forward local concerns along with any proposals and ideas which local stakeholders and I consider would be necessary or helpful.
“I am keen to identify the challenges and issues this will create for the town and its residents.
“I will work with the Home Office and other organisations to deliver the resources and safeguards which will be needed to reassure residents.
“I will share further information about the proposals for Northeye as soon as it is made available to me.”
Labour MP for Hove Peter Kyle criticised the amount of money spent on housing refugees, including children, in hotels in recent years.
He said: “The government has woken up to the fact that paying £7 million a day on hotels is a crazy amount of money, but why haven't they used this money to pay for proper help and support for these children?
“Shoving them onto boats is not any safer or reassuring to these children than being bunged into a hotel room.”
Mr Jenrick said that only “single adult males” would be forced into the locations, as he seeks to reduce a hotel bill he put at £2.3 billion a year.
He said: “Accommodation for migrants should meet their essential living needs and nothing more, because we cannot risk becoming a magnet for the millions of people who are displaced and seeking better economic prospects.”
The Refugee Council has said it is “deeply concerned” by the plans and that the suggested accommodation is “entirely unsuitable” to the needs of asylum seekers.
Enver Soloman, the charity’s chief executive, said: “These sites are wholly inadequate places to house vulnerable men, women and children who have come to our country in search of safety.”