According to Public Health England (PHE) the outbreak of Covid 19 at Napier Barracks began on 14th January 2021 and remains ongoing.
In January there were 178 positive coronavirus cases and a further 19 recorded up to the 24th February. In the last five days another 12 positive coronavirus cases have been recorded, according to PHE.
This means the total number of cases at Napier barracks, is equal to 55% of its resident population at its peak of 380. And those testing positive is still rising.
The high court heard that PHE advised the Home Office on 7 September last year that dormitories were not suitable accommodation during a pandemic. The judge, Martin Chamberlain, told the court: “This advice was apparently not followed.”
Lets not forget the CgMs Report submitted to Shepway District Council [now Folkestone & Hythe District Council] by Taylor Wimpey, did not “meet acceptable standards of accommodation” when it was surveyed by planning and environmental experts in 2014.
The CGMS report goes onto say: “the buildings were never intended for long-term use” and converting the housing blocks on the site was an “unsuitable approach”.
The report was submitted by Taylor Wimpey as part of their planning application to build 1,200 homes across various sites of Shorncliffe Barracks, in 2014.
Military personnel have not been accommodated at the site for a decade and a half. However, cadets have used the site according to former Folkestone Town and District Cllr, Roger West.
On the 16th Feb it was announced there were just 63 people left in the barracks. This number has fallen further still as the Covid outbreak remains “ongoing” according to Public Health England.
From the moment our public face announced that Napier Barracks was to be used to hold Asylum Seekers, which the Council called “rumours”, many local people did not want the site to be used. The Council and MP were against the idea. However, some were keen to welcome the asylum seekers and did so on the 17th Oct 2020.
Since then the barracks “has caused a breakdown in cohesion in our community” according to Cllr Connor McConville leader of the Labour Cllrs elected to the district Chamber in May 2019.
It’s clear the site is not, nor has been suitable to house Asylum Seekers. It’s clear those in power did not heed the contents of the reports, or the PHE advice, all publicly available.
As such they have put, asylum seekers, staff and local residents at “substantial risk” which should not have been sensibly ignored given the nature and gravity of the feared harm in this particular case.
The Shepway Vox Team
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