United Kingdom

Residents outrage over Tenby asylum seeker housing

A police and crime commissioner has asked the Home Office to apologise to residents over an 'impractical decision' to house migrants at a military barracks in west Wales.

Dafydd Llywelyn said there had been a 'lack of planning, communication, consultation and information' over the use of the camp in the coastal village of Penally, near Tenby.

Mr Llywelyn, the police and crime commissioner for Dyfed-Powys, described the move as 'totally unacceptable' and said it showed a 'lack of respect' to residents in Penally and the surrounding area, as well as local services.

A group of demonstrators welcomed asylum seekers who are being housed in an army barracks in Penally, near Tenby, west Wales following protests by far right groups

The first group of 250 asylum seekers aged between 18 and 35 have moved into the converted barracks. The following day a 50-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a public order offence during a demonstration 

'There has been no clarity on the strategic plan and insufficient engagement to ensure we support and safeguard these vulnerable individuals whilst also addressing local concerns, and I am now demanding that the Home Office apologises to the local residents for their lack of respect,' he said.

On September 21, the first group of up to 250 male asylum seekers, aged between 18 and 35, were moved into the converted barracks.

A number of protests took place at the site, with a 50-year-old man arrested on suspicion of public order offences on September 22.

Anti-racism protesters stood outside the camp with welcome placards the following day.

Last week, First Minister Mark Drakeford told the Welsh Parliament that the Welsh Government had not been given a say in the decision to use the site for migrants.

He said a written request to Home Secretary Priti Patel for assurances that funding would be provided to the area to help deal with resulting demands on its services was met by a 'utter blanket refusal'.

The Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has asked the Home Secretary Priti Patel to provide adequate resources so the additional people do not overwhelm local services

And on Tuesday, Helen Mary Jones, Plaid Cymru MS for Mid and West Wales, told the Senedd that a 'strongly worded' letter had been written by the local health board and county council, supported by local representatives.

She said this raised 'grave concerns' about the Home Office's decision, particularly regarding the ability to provide appropriate support to those being housed at the camp.

Mr Llywelyn said he had attended several multi-agency meetings, involving police, the local authority, health board and Welsh Government, over the past two weeks.

'It has been left to our local agencies including the police to pick up the pieces of this impractical Home Office decision and I am therefore asking for a direct apology,' he added.

'This way of working is not acceptable.

'I will continue to involve myself and be proactive in these developments to support the local community of Penally and Pembrokeshire and ensure these vulnerable individuals are safeguarded and provided with adequate services.'

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