Sudden Decision to House Asylum Seekers at Napier Barracks

On 14th September F&H district council reported that they had been advised by the Home Office that Napier Barracks was to be made ready as an ‘assessment and dispersal’ open facility for asylum seekers.

Some days before that rumours had broken on social media that Napier Barracks was being converted for use by asylum seekers, with locals reporting that equipment and other items were already being removed from the barracks in preparation.

Commenting on these rumours many local people were surprised and angry that 80 to 100 asylum seekers were to be housed at Napier Barracks and it was thought likely the number would be much higher. Later reports on TV seemed to confirm that as many as 500 or more asylum seekers would be accommodated at Napier Barracks, for periods of up to 2 years.

Some local people thought that the refugees should be made to feel welcome and reminded all how Folkestone had offered safe harbour to Belgian refugees when they arrived terror-stricken as they fled the invader in 1914.

Over the past weeks and months local people have seen almost daily occurrences of refugees landing in small boats – with almost 5 times as many refugees having crossed this year compared with the same period last year – approx 6000 refugees in total. The refugees, mostly young men but occasionally entire families, come from poor, war-torn and chaotic countries such as Iran and Iraq and these landings have become so commonplace that locals barely raise an eyebrow at the news now.

Concerned at the lack of notice about this sudden arrangement F&HDC issued the following statement: “Following the rumours circulating, we have been given confirmation today that the Home Office intends to make Napier Barracks an assessment and dispersal facility for asylum seekers. Leader Cllr David Monk, Folkestone & Hythe MP Damian Collins and Folkestone & Hythe District Council ward member Cllr Tim Prater chairman of Sandgate Parish Council immediately co-wrote letters protesting to ministers about the lack of consultation on this matter. The council statement goes on to say: “We are quite sure that members of the community will have many questions, and we are seeking clarification as a matter of urgency. When we have the clarification we will publish the answers”.

An emergency cabinet meeting was held later that evening when this issue was discussed in greater detail and later that same evening Cllrs Monk, Prater and Wimble were interviewed by ITV News – where they spoke in the strongest terms about their disagreement with this sudden decision by the Home Office which had been made without consultation.

MP Damian Collins has also written in the strongest terms to MP Priti Patel telling why this decision cannot be supported and outlining the following questions:

“Firstly, will you publish the impact assessment the Home Office has made for using the barracks in this way, detailing what security provisions have been made for the site and the likely impact on the local residential community around the barracks. We understand that this is to be an open facility, and so it is to be expected that those living there will want to make use of local amenities. Can you also publish the impact assessment for the welfare of those who will be living at Napier Barracks, which will be a very large number of people, accommodated in basic facilities which have not been designed for this purpose. Also can you share with us the current guidelines for the accommodation of people currently in the asylum system, including the recommendations on the number of adults to be place at a single facility, the level of support they would require, and how this compares to the arrangements that have been made at Napier Barracks.

“Secondly, what provision is being made to support local public services, including the NHS, in case these are required to provide assistance to those living at Napier Barracks. Equally, will Kent Police be able to access additional funding in case of any impact this facility has on their resources.

“Thirdly, we understand that whilst this is a temporary facility it is likely to be in use for many months. Can you give a commitment as to what the maximum period of its use will be?”

Damian finishes his letter with “We understand that the Home Office plans to start using Napier Barracks for this purpose from Monday 21 September. We would be grateful for your response to this letter before the end of this week.”

Shortly after the first F&HDC briefing an update was issued confirming that, following urgent conversations with the Home Office, the council will be working with partner agencies to set up a support network to help asylum seekers.

F&HDC Leader David Monk said “We understand the plight of many asylum seekers who arrive in this country with only the clothes they are wearing and we want to help. A support network has to be set up and it must be one that will work. There are lots of aspects to consider and our initial concern was that some of these aspects had not been addressed with us earlier.”

Cllr Monk went on to say “It was never a question of this council being against the principle of asylum seekers living in our community. Our concern was that as we had not been consulted we had no way of being able to allay the fears and address the questions raised by our residents.”

Residents who live adjacent to Napier Barracks expressed a hope that it will be mainly families who are accommodated in the Barracks, but they are concerned that the likelihood is that it will be mostly young men.

This news has been breaking almost hour by hour, and the latest council update starts to fill in some, but not all, of the gaps.

Chris Philip, Minister for Immigration Compliance and the Courts responded to questions about lack of consultation – he advised that Government is making use of Section 9 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999 to provide safe accommodation for people who have claimed asylum who would otherwise be destitute whilst their claims are being considered. It is understood that the site has permission for use for up to 12 months, and the facility is temporary.

F&HDC staff are already working with partner agencies to ensure all appropriate support measures are in place. The contractor running the site will be Clearsprings Ready Homes Ltd – an experienced accommodation and support provider elsewhere in the UK.

At the Barracks there will be on-site security and on-site medical services to reduce pressure on local health services. Every effort is being made for the facility to be Covid secure and Public Health England is involved to ensure safety of its users and local residents. Those coming to the site will have spent a quarantine period elsewhere and welfare and security checks will have taken place. Equipment is being delivered over the weekend (19-20 Sept) and around 25 asylum seekers will move in on Monday 21 Sept.

Offers to help for those living at the barracks, from councillors and residents, have been received and more information about volunteering opportunities will be available over the coming days. The Home Office Press Office have also just announced they will create a Facebook post in the Kent area to advise and reassure local people. There will also be a fact sheet addressing commonly asked questions. Further updates will be issues as more information becomes available.

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Hall Together Now!

by David Cowell

A decade or so ago The Chichester Memorial Hall in Sandgate was in a poor state of disrepair. A slowly diminishing Board of Trustees meant that the running of the building was left to fewer hands and the effect was a rapidly deteriorating structure and no funds to put that right. With lobbying from some Sandgateans, the Sandgate Parish Council, established in 2004, decided to take over the running of the Hall and, in cooperation with the Charities Commission, appointed a temporary Board consisting of willing Councillors. Apportioned their responsibilities, they soon got to grips with the problems.

Zoe Varian, then a Councillor, took on the task of reconstructing the accounts so they knew exactly what they could or could not afford to do. On the ground floor the Sandgate Members‟ Club (then called the Sandgate Men‟s Club) had patiently endured water flowing down their walls from a leaking roof for a number of years so this was one of the first and most important areas to address. Under the astute chairmanship of Jan Holben, funds were raised and a new roof was installed in late 2014. Other projects were undertaken including repair to the external clock which, until recently, showed passers-by the time with reasonable accuracy but sadly no more.

There is a plan to have that up and running again in a month or so driven by more contemporary technology to avoid the Caretaker having to perilously climb twenty feet or so into the loft to make any corrections – the times really are a-changin‟!

Although the main Hall and stairs were given a coat of paint, subsequent Trustees knew that more important work was needed not just on refurbishment but also on upgrading the kitchen and toilets. Then Coronavirus happened and on guidance from the Government, the Hall closed for all its activities in March.

Apparently, the Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis’. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity and it Hall together now!

September 2020 11 was with the latter in mind that we decided to start work on what we had grandly called the 20:20 Vision project. With support from Kent County Council, the Roger De Haan Foundation and Sandgate Parish Council plus our own ring fenced funds generously given by the residents of Sandgate and the surrounding area with their hires and patronage of the twice monthly Farmers Market, the work commenced.

By the time you read this article the main Hall and ceiling will have been completed and a new kitchen installed. It is hoped that the first floor toilet will be altered by sacrificing a part of the Caretaker’s store room, making it accessible by wheelchair. We have upgraded the emergency exit lights too, once again, making it a safer place to be.

We had hoped to have all the jobs done before we reopened but delays in funding and an on-site accident caused unavoidable delays so the work will be completed gradually over the next few months. A Government grant via Folkestone and Hythe District Council meant that we have been able to weather the Covid storm much better than expected but we had to give thought as to when to reopen in order to stop the inevitable haemorrhaging of money.

We have decided that the first Sandgate Farmers Market will be on 5 September and hires are able to recommence from 1 September. Each hire has to have a Covid-19 compliance plan to ensure that the risk of transmission is minimised and these are constructed by the hire group in discussion with the Hall‟s Executive Officer. Pilates will be the first to return on the 3rd and their compliance plan has been approved and signed off and others are being discussed and finalised.

Who knows what the new normality will look like? Government guidance changes almost daily and the most recent is that masks must be worn in indoor spaces with a few exceptions. Community Halls were one of the environments mentioned that had to comply so some of the plans are already in their second and third version and I am sure there will be other measures announced that will require further changes.

To answer my own question, I think the new normality is that there is no normality. But life must go on and the Chichester Memorial Hall is determined that will happen, safe in the knowledge that our patrons are diligent, decent and determined people and that we will provide an environment that will keep them safe as they resume their activities together.

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Notice Of Vacancy

Notice is hereby given that a vacancy has arisen in the Office of Councillor for the Parish Council.

If by 3 September 2020 a request for an election to fill the vacancy is made in writing to:

The Returning Officer
Folkestone & Hythe District Council
Civic Centre
Castle Hill Avenue
Kent CT20 2QY

by TEN electors for the Electoral Area, an election will be held to fill the vacancy, otherwise the vacancy will be filled by co-option.

If an election is called, it will take place in line with the Local Government and Police Crime Commissioner (Coronavirus) (Postponement of Elections and Referendums) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020, so will be held on Thursday 6th May 2021.

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Paying Respect To Robert Bliss

The funeral of Robert Bliss will take place on Tuesday 1st September.

Sadly, due to the ongoing Covid restrictions, the ceremony is limited to 30 invited guests only.

However, Robert’s cortege will be pass along Sandgate High Street and Esplanade from Folkestone towards Hythe just after 11.15am on Tuesday 1st September for those that would like to pay their respects. 

We know that many people have said they would like to do so, and would be pleased to be joined by friends and neighbours lining the route.

Nina Bliss, and Robert’s family, have been very touched by the support shown by so many friends from across Sandgate and beyond.

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Robert Bliss

It is with huge sadness that Sandgate Parish Council learned of the sudden death of our friend and Vice-Chairman Robert Bliss on Monday.

Robert was Chairman of Sandgate Parish Council from 2011 until May this year, serving longer than all other Chairmen of the Parish combined.

Robert also served as District Councillor for Sandgate from 1995 to 2015, and County Councillor for Folkestone West from 2005 to 2009. He was made an Alderman of Shepway District in 2015 on his retirement as a District Councillor in recognition of his service.

Tim Prater, Chairman of Sandgate Parish Council, said:

“We heard of Robert’s death on Monday morning with great shock and sadness. Robert was deeply committed to Sandgate, a long standing and valued member of the Parish Council, and a great support.

“Most of all we’re thinking of Nina and Robert’s family as they come to terms with their loss: Robert and Nina have been inseparable for years.

“I know how rightly proud he was of his many years as Councillor, Parish Chairman, and indeed the almost 10 years he led the then Shepway District Council.

“We shared a passion for Sandgate taking control of our services and local facilities. Robert fought to see Sandgate Library reopened after a period of closure over a decade ago. He also helped make happen the unique agreement that sees Sandgate Parish Council managing our own Library, and was delighted by all it has since achieved.

“Throughout, he showed complete commitment to this village, the district as a whole and to his beloved Nina. He was an honest and honourable man.

“Sandgate will be poorer without Robert, and we will miss him.”​

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Results of Sandgate Lockdown Photographic Competition 2020

Back in May the Sandgate Society announced a Lockdown photographic competition 2020 to record for posterity the village through these strange times.

The criteria for photographs was simple and could include; rainbows in windows, deserted streets, closed shops, social distance street parties, people singing from balconies, Thursday night applause for NHS works or any other subject which captures the moment.

The photographs are in, the village has judged and thers are three magnificent winners.

1st place goes to Joe Bleach – rainbow through bars

2nd place goes to Lindsay Satchell – a lone cyclist

3rd place goes to Annie Bamford – keep smiling Sandgate

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KCC Director of Public Health response to national media reports re Ashford and Folkestone

Kent County Council Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark statement:

The PHE dashboard, which can be found here on, has changed so that daily reporting includes deaths that have occurred in all settings where there has been a positive COVID-19 test, including hospitals, care homes, and the wider community. A technical summary is available here. This also includes case rates per 100,000 resident population and data at lower tier local authority level.

As part of our outbreak plans, we work closely with Public Health England to monitor the figures across Kent – the seven day rolling average for Ashford and Folkestone continues to decline from the peak seen in April/May, so this PHE report does not mean there is a current need for any local lockdowns.

While the figure for cumulative confirmed cases will always appear high for these areas, there is no comparison to be made between the rates of new cases currently occurring in Ashford and Folkestone, and areas such as Leicester.

We have seen a number of infections in care settings and these are being effectively managed but we have not seen any evidence of any widespread community transmission of COVID-19 and there are currently no plans to introduce any lockdowns specifically in these areas. Should, however, the need arise, we will not hesitate to take further steps should it be necessary.

Ashford and Folkestone have seen higher rates than other areas and is a combination of higher testing rates earlier in the pandemic, a large NHS Trust, and many care homes in the area plus the London commuter effect.

We have known Ashford has experienced high numbers for a while and as a result, we have deployed mobile testing sites to this area to increase the amount of people who are tested to allow us to better understand how and why this is happening.

As a result, we are finding more positive results because we know that some people can be infected with Covid-19, but not exhibit symptoms (asymptomatic cases).

The public should be reassured that the levels of testing across the whole of Kent have also been ramped up and we would expect to see a rise in the number of cumulative confirmed cases.

We have increased our testing capacity so that we are able to identify and confirm cases in our community and support the NHS Test and Trace programme. We appeal to residents to follow the guidance should they be contacted by NHS test and trace. This will help us control the spread of the virus.

The NHS in the region has also been working hard making sure that there are sufficient testing resources for their patients and staff to get the testing that they need to support their safety and treatment.

The Government has also set up a home-testing service where kits can be delivered to someone’s door so they can test themselves and their family without leaving the house.

The message to residents remains clear – to follow national guidance on social distancing, use thorough and regular handwashing, and follow advice if contacted by the NHS Test and Trace system. For more information, go to


For more information of the addition of pillar two testing to daily figures at a local authority level, go to

We appreciate many residents will have questions regarding how this is affecting Kent County Council services and we will try and answer as many of those as possible, please read our your questions answered page. For the very latest information on our services, be sure to check our service updates page.

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Why Recycling Is Essential

20 Tips And Tricks

This item covers why recycling is essential (incl. the benefits of it) as well as 20 tips and tricks which can help you to make a difference.

Recycling has become one of the most critical home and office practices in modern societies today. Fifty to sixty years ago, we were all thinking about the next big thing to make life easier, from plastic bottles, disposable plates, spoons, and cups, to larger items like home appliances.

To find out more – click on the link below:

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The Folkestone Haven

A free, face to face mental health crisis service for adult residents from across Folkestone and Hythe District.

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Sandgate Walking Tours

On Saturday 18th July Tony Quarrington will be bringing his award winning walking tours to Sandgate for the first time.

Tony developed the Sandgate Walking tour programme after discussions with Sandgate Parish Council earlier this year. The Parish Council are supporting the programme with promotion and a small grant.

Tony will be delivering a minimum of ten tours between mid July and late October. All tours will start at the Chichester Memorial Hall at 11am on a Saturday and last approximately two hours. It had been hoped that the majority of the tours would coincide with the fortnightly Farmer’s Market, but that might have to wait a little while longer.

Enbrook Park, the Castle, High Street, seafront, Old Fire Station, library, parish church and former primary school are just some of the attractions that Tony will focus on along the walk.
In addition to the history, culture and architecture of the village, he will also explain the role of many of the prominent personalities, such as H.G. Wells, Sir John Moore, William Wilberforce and Hattie Jacques, that have shaped and illuminated Sandgate over the centuries. 

Tony, who lives in Folkestone, has been conducting walking tours in the town for the past three years, focusing on The Leas, harbour and seafront, Creative Quarter and the East Cliff. He is excited to be venturing further afield and sharing his passion for the village with his guests.

Sandgate Parish Council Chairman Tim Prater welcomed the launch of the programme. Tim said: “When I started the conversation with Tony about bringing his walking tours to Sandgate we hoped we would offer something new and different for the village and our visitors. We hope that this summer as many people as possible enjoy an outdoor, socially distanced tour with Tony and learn more about our village, its history and the people that lived (and live!) here. It would be great to see this become a regular feature in Sandgate for years to come, and we look forward to working, and walking, with Tony”.

Dates of tours
Sat  18th July
Sat  1st August
Sat  15th August
Sat  29th August
Sat  5th September

£5 per person per 2 hour tourMaximum 8 guests

Booking is essential
Tel : Tony  07738 624522 or Email:

Posted in chichester hall, news, parish council | 2 Comments

District Play Areas are Open Again

The news a lot of you have been waiting for… our play areas are reopening today.👏

Firstly, we would like to say a massive thank you to the majority of people who have respected the closures. 💜

We completely understand how frustrating the wait has been but public safety will always be our number one priority.🧼

Our officers will be cleaning play equipment across the district regularly. We have also had to remove some facilities to ensure social distancing can be followed more easily.👉

We’ve put up signage which looks very similar to the image below.

You can do your bit to reduce the risk of further COVID-19 peaks.🤸 Please adhere to the guidelines – they are simple to follow and will ensure everyone can have fun while staying safe.

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Inspection Covers – Who Installed the Sanitation?

Dear Fellow Sandgate Society Members and Residents

I was taking my daily walk earlier in the month through Sandgate when I noticed an inspection cover which was impressed with the name N O Baker, builder, Sandgate.  That’s interesting I thought and took a picture, carried on my walk but then started to look at other air tight inspection covers.  After several walks I have found 3 different Sandgate builders’ drain covers and others with Folkestone and Hythe builder’s names.  I have started to find some information about these builders such as where their premises were located, how long they were in business, etc.

This is where you come in please  –  many drain covers are on private property which I cannot see from the path so please would you look at your drain cover and see if it has a local name on it.  If it has, please photograph it and send it with the location, to email:

This will give us an idea who built some of the houses in Sandgate or if you have an older property, who installed the sanitation.

These photos will be collated and will be put into the archives along with a potted history of the builders themselves. Many of the drain covers have been changed over the years because of corrosion, damage or changing driveway material, which means many of these have disappeared over the years  – so please look and send your photos in.


Annie Bamford

The Sandgate Society Archive Team

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A new addition to the range of activities that Sandgate offers.

We work with all things natural including the weather, yoga movement, food provided for guests who can stay 1 night or 1 month and the workshops introduce Ayurveda (a sister practise to yoga from India )

All activities are for health, fun, healing, restoration, well-being and growth. There are yoga sessions for all. Monday to Friday 9.30am for 1 hour, further info and costs on website. Meditation hour Mondays 8-9pm, by donation only for all and Worriers Yoga on Fridays 8-9pm. Booking essential as limited spaces.

Workshops and accommodation for up to 8 guests. I am Kate Pierre at Sandgate Yoga Lodge, 104a Sandgate High St, Sandgate, Folkestone CT20 3BY. 07889495526. Website: 

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Latest Covid19 information from Government

Stay alert

We can all help control the virus if we all stay alert. This means you must:

  • stay at home as much as possible
  • work from home if you can
  • limit contact with other people
  • keep your distance if you go out (2 metres apart where possible)
  • wash your hands regularly

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms.

What you can and can’t do until 4th July (FAQ’s):

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Sandgate Park: Playground and Adult Play Equipment Remain CLOSED under Government Rules

Sandgate Parish Council have followed the Government’s Coranavirus advice throughout, and kept Sandgate Park open to give people space to exercise.

When the rules changed a little last week, we quickly changed the rules around the Tennis courts and Multi Use Games Area (MUGA) from do not use to please only use in pairs, and maintain social distancing. They are free to use, but ONLY if those rules are followed. NO large groups.

Although the huge majority of users have been respectful of the rules and making use of Sandgate Park perfectly reasonably at this time, some people seem to feel the need to stretch the point.

The playground and adult exercise equipment remain closed currently and are taped off. That because the Government’s rules – which have NOT been altered on that – say they should be. “As with before, you cannot use an outdoor gym or playground”

More from:

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Coronavirus – Your Questions Answered

Here are the answers to your questions about how coronavirus is affecting our services across the county of Kent.

Posted in Business, covid, health, misc | 2 Comments

New Sandgate Design Statement (2020)

More details and to see the design statement check out:

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Creating Heritage

Dear Sandgate Society Members

Now we are allowed a bit more freedom, we wonder if you were able to help us?

These may be very difficult times, but we are living through history –the history of Sandgate.

The Committee and Archives Team feel it is important that this period is recorded for posterity with as many photographs as possible to record our village during this time.

Would you like to contribute to our effort and send in some photographs – rainbows in windows, deserted streets, closed shops, social distance street parties, people singing from balconies, Thursday night clapping for the NHS – whatever you can find?

So we can share them, we will publish them on our website and will have a People’s Vote on the best one.  The winning photograph could be enlarged onto canvas and hung in a public place – maybe the Chichester Hall, the Library or the Old Fire Station.

And if we had enough photos, we could even consider a calendar, maybe notelets – who knows where this may lead?

Please let us know if you would like to join our effort to record history for future Sandgate generations, and have a bit of fun at the same time?

Please send them in jpeg format to   We will aim to put 1 or 2 photos on the Photo Gallery from each contributor; if you wish to send in more, feel free, but we may need to use our editing rights to publish a limited number depending on the number received.

So, please get snapping and we look forward to Creating the Heritage of Sandgate together.

Best wishes

The Events Team

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Sandgate Quiz

Dear Sandgate Society Members,

Our events and website teams are hard at work during this time of enforced downtime, and we would like to invite you to make a cup of coffee, put on your thinking caps and enjoy a quiz!  

For the questions follow this link:

And you don’t need to be knowledgeable – all the answers can be found somewhere on our new website.

Please post back your answers via the website ‘contact us’ link, or email if that is easier for you.

This is just for fun – no prizes – but your name will appear on the website as a VILLAGE MASTERMIND if you get all twenty answers right, unless you would prefer to remain anonymous!

The closing date is Monday 1st June.

Good luck & keep safe.

The Brain Teasers

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Household Waste & Recycling Centres to open

From next Friday (May 15), Kent County Council’s Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) will open to the public for essential use.

On Wednesday, May 13, people will be able to book a slot to use one of the county’s 18 HWRCs which closed on March 23 as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown.

People can book a slot either online or by phone for the opening on Friday, May 15 – details on how to book will be released next week.

For more information about Booking and Arriving On Site – click HERE

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