The Civic Centre site in Folkestone is due to be used as a vaccination centre against COVID. Residents will be invited to get the vaccine when it is their turn and advised where they should attend to get their jab.The Folkestone & Hythe District Council owned site is going to be part of the massive immunisation rollout of the COVID vaccine when it becomes operational as a vaccination centre later this month.Vaccinations will take place in the car park of the site.

The Civic Centre site will predominantly cater to patients from the following GP surgeries: The New Surgery, Guildhall Street Surgery, Sandgate Road Surgery and Manor Clinic.Oaklands Medical Centre is another vaccination hub in the district catering to patients of Sun Lane Surgery, White House Surgery, Oaklands Health Centre, Hawkinge and Elham Surgery, The Folkestone Surgery, Folkestone Health Centre and New Lyminge Surgery.

The vaccinations are being given to certain individuals first in line with the national priority list. You will be invited to attend when it is your turn to be vaccinated.Please do not turn up on site or ring the site as you may hamper the vaccination effort and will not get a vaccination without an invitation.

Cllr David Monk, Leader of Folkestone & Hythe District Council, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide the use of the Civic Centre site. This vaccination programme is crucial to us being able to get back to normal. It’s important we all take up the offer of this protection and I am eagerly awaiting my own invite to get vaccinated.”In addition, Folkestone & Hythe District Council proposed the use of Folca – the former Debenhams building – before Christmas. Officers have been working hard to explore plans and practicalities with the NHS Kent Community Health Foundation Trust ever since and continue to do so.

A service for the Romney Marsh area is also in the final planning stages. Subject to being approved, service at Lydd Airport is expected to open in the week of 18-24 January (exact date to be confirmed).

For more information about other vaccination sites, please visit

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Sandgate Road Surgery Vaccination Programm

You may be aware, but just in case, if you are registered at The Sandgate Road surgery in Folkestone, their vaccination programme starts on Monday 11th January.

The vaccinations will be given at the Civic Centre, Castle Hill Avenue,  Folkestone by appointment only.

The Civic Centre does not offer a drop-in vaccination service. All vaccinations are booked in advance, so please do not ring the surgery but wait to be contacted for when you can get the vaccine.

We hope this is the first step to our freedom!

Best wishes

Sal Kenward – Chair Sandgate Society

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Sandgate Library – STILL At Your Service

Despite the national lockdown, Sandgate Library continues to offer a limited book “Select and Collect” pick up service.

Folkestone, Cheriton & Wood Avenue Libraries are at present all closed but it is possible for library members of any Kent library to make use of the Select and Collect service at Sandgate Library.

Sandgate Library is open for a Select and Collect service on Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10.00-12.00. Collection by appointment only.

Please phone 07552 810271 Monday-Friday 10.00-12.00 (closed Weds) or email to place Select and Collect orders directly with library staff and to arrange a collection time and date. Bookshelf browsing and use of computers and WiFi are currently unavailable until further notice.

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Sandgate Post Office and other stories


These notes are part of a lengthy study of the early postal history of Sandgate gathered from the Royal Mail Archive and local historical secondary sources.     

A receiver at Sandgate is first recorded in 1794 with the establishment of the military camp above Sandgate (known now as Shorncliffe). An application was made to open a communication between Canterbury and Folkestone Camp.

It was decided that deliveries to Shorncliffe to be ‘accelerated by an hour’ and ‘a little bag to Sandgate’ would fulfill the need, with two Guineas to be paid to both the Receivers at Sandgate and Lydd, also an increase in salary made to the postmasters at Folkestone, Hythe and Romney.

To read the complete article – click on this link which will take you to the Tales from the Sandgate Society Archive Team.

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Sandgate Community Garden Update

Sunday 29th November

The celeriac seems to have gone down very well with all the volunteers, and various soup recipes have been exchanged, just the comfort food for the cooler weather – we shall definitely be growing that again next year!  Not frosty or cold enough for the parsnips yet.  They sweeten up with a good dose of frost, even so, being tucked up deep in the earth it is always a surprise how they are until they get dug up, you never know how well they have grown or if they have suffered from canker.  We had a sneaky peek at the tops of a few of them but are saving them for Christmas – something to look forward to!  The slow grow coriander is also going down well and appreciated – such good flavour compared with the ‘soapy’ taste from the supermarket.  Mixed with carrots in a soup, or added to a curry or stir fry, it gives a certain amazingness!   

Talking of amazing, Chris, one of our gardeners, and partner Suzy, have been getting some lockdown exercise every day by barrowing six loads of wood chips each, all the way up to the garden and laid down on the paths.  It is all looking neat and tidy, and they are benefiting from the fresh air and workout too!  No lockdown bellies for those two!

It was only mentioned last week that it is never a good idea to directly sow peas as the rodents find them in no time and make a meal out of them.  It seems they found where they and the last broad bean sowings were growing inside their modules, up off the ground and seemingly in a safe place – but no!  They were found, dug up and eaten!  Rodents must be able to sniff them out at a distance.  If we can get them to a certain point of growth, then they have made it and can be planted out safely – it is just getting to that stage.

Some things we will go out of our way to feed.  We put up some bird feeders this week, and it will be interesting to see how long it takes for the local bird population to realise they are there.  The feeders did not need refilling on Saturday, but apparently a couple of birds were spotted having a look at them earlier on in the morning.  As time goes on, there is less for them to find in the garden and so we need to help them now. 

We had a request from the Parish Council to take on a couple of planters on the seafront which could do with a bit of TLC.  Inspired by last week’s seminar on Kent’s Plan Bee and what could be done to support insect life, we opted for some hardy flowering perennials, and some spring flowering bulbs.  The planters do not look like much at the moment, but will be added to and changed over the seasons to give as much flower that bees like as we can cram in there.  It is work in progress for now.  

What’s next?

If there is any chance the fleece turns up, then we will be busy laying that down!

More wood chips to bring up to the garden

Will the bird feeders need a refill?

Still more plots to put compost down

Compost needs putting down on the plants up against the wall

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All You Need To Know About The Vaccine

The UK has become the first country in the world to approve mass use of a Covid vaccine for people aged 16 and over.

Immunisations with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, approved by the British medicines regulator, the MHRA, could start early next week for people in some high-priority groups, with 800,000 doses arriving in the UK in the first delivery.

Nine groups of at-risk people have been prioritised to have the vaccine in the first phase, with care home residents and workers at the top and frontline health workers next.

However, logistical challenges with ultra-cold storage and transport of the jab means getting it to care homes may take a bit longer.

Prof Jonathan Van Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer, said there would be “blending of the top two groups” because of technical issues with a “delicate” vaccine.

And he suggested that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which is waiting for approval from the UK regulator, would be easier to roll out in care homes and would “hopefully be approved before Christmas”.

For full briefing from BBC website click on link here.

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Rural Kent – Update on Restrictions

We are waiting for an official ACRE information update, which will come out to you just as soon as regulations have been set formally by the government.  In the meantime, as Kent is now in a tier 3 area, the following applies:

Tier 3: Very High alert

• People must not socialise with anyone they do not live with or not in their support bubble in any indoor setting. So within a COVID 19 secure hall people must minimise interactions with anyone not in their household/support bubble.

• Outdoors people must not socialise in a group of more than 6 in public spaces including parks, a public garden, or a sports facility – the ‘rule of 6’

• bars pubs, cafes are closed –takeaway, click-and-collect, or delivery services are permitted.

• indoor entertainment venues must close. These include the following, meaning the relevant activities are not permitted in village and community halls:

• indoor play areas, including soft play

• bingo halls

• bowling alleys

• cinemas, theatres, and concert halls

• snooker halls

• leisure and sports facilities may continue to stay open, but group exercise classes (including fitness and dance) should not go ahead.

• organised outdoor sport, and physical activity and exercise classes can continue, however higher-risk contact activity should not take place

• organised indoor sport, physical activity and exercise classes cannot take place indoors. There are exceptions for indoor disability sport, sport for educational purposes and supervised sport and physical activity for under-18s

• there should be no public attendance at spectator sport or indoor performances. Large business events should not take place.

• large outdoor events (performances and shows) should not take place, with the exception of drive-in events

• places of worship remain open, but people must not attend with or socialise with anyone outside their household/ support bubble, unless a legal exemption applies.

• weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of attendees – 15 people can attend wedding ceremonies, wedding receptions are not allowed, 30 people can attend funeral ceremonies, 15 people can attend wakes and linked commemorative events.

Exemptions from gatherings limits in all tiers:

• for work or providing voluntary or charitable services, including in other people’s homes

• for childcare, education, or training – meaning education and training provided as part of a formal curriculum

• for supervised activities provided for children, including wraparound care (before and after-school childcare), groups and activities for under 18s, and children’s playgroups

• for formal support groups, and parent and child groups – up to 15 people aged 5 and older

• to provide emergency assistance, avoid injury or illness

• to fulfil a legal obligation, such as attending court or jury service.

Local restrictions are set out here:

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Kent – Very High Alert

Central government has announced that Kent will be in Tier 3 (very high alert), meaning the restrictions outlined in the briefing (click on link) below will come into effect next Wednesday (2 December). National COVID-19 rules apply in the district until this date.

More information ➡️

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Sandgate Community Garden Awarded – Again!

update written by Sandgate Society

Such a contrast to the weather in the last few newsletters, this week we have had some beautiful sunny and warm weather, encouraging more gardeners to get to the garden and make the most of it, especially as we are now in another lockdown. However this one is very different to the first where we could only work on our own – this time we can follow community garden rules for food gardens, which explain in detail how we can work in the space.

We certainly feel glad that we can carry on as long as we are careful, and we know of the benefits the garden brings to mental and physical health. How timely that we should receive yet another certificate from the RHS Britain in Bloom, in recognition of how important community gardens are, and how valuable our work is in such difficult times as we have experienced this year. Always glad to receive a certificate and we shall have to consider where it could be displayed!

Just as we are being given such an accolade, we are then contacted by a Social Prescribing Service for West Kent. We are being asked to be part of a support service to help people reduce social isolation and loneliness and improve health and wellbeing. We will be very glad to register.

In the meantime, there is still much to be done. The first of the fleece covers have been put down and more has been ordered, to protect any vegetables overwintering, to shelter from the wind and frost. It takes a while to get to know your fleece and what should be avoided. For this garden there is no point buying a lightweight fleece of less than 30g m2 as it will tear and be useless in no time at all. It is also wise to make sure the fleece has good UV tolerance as the sunlight makes the fleece turn to dust and simply disintegrate in less than a season. Who would have thought that fleece can create such a minefield of issues.

All the wooden boxes got their final coats of wood treatment for the year, and the compost area is nearing completion. Two more packets of broad bean seeds have been sown as have the last of the autumn peas. They have been quick to germinate and we will soon be planting them out once we have put down more compost on the beds. The leaf compost bin is nearly full already but leaves fished out from the pond are not added until any wildlife has had the chance to escape back to the water.

Now is a chance to look at the bare bones of the garden and review how the permanent plants are growing. Last autumn we planted the smallest of twigs claiming to be gooseberry plants – they had been decimated by sawfly and looked very sorry for themselves, so we got them for pennies, a real bargain as they now resemble good sturdy plants and should be cropping next summer.

You really would have thought that the brassicas would have been given a break from caterpillars by now in November, but unfortunately they are still enjoying making holes in the leaves – even in the vegetation of the High Street planter! Unbelievable!

What’s next?: We need to consider a wild flower seed bomb for behind the compost area; Continue to spread compost, Continue to collect leaves from the ground and in the pond, Put the fleece down if it has arrived in the post, Clear some of the spent salad areas, Clear some of the finished flowers and compost, Put a thick layer of compost on the hops.

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Sandgate Society – Latest Tales

For the latest in a series of historical tales about Sandgate village follow this link

This month ‘Sea Rescues’

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District Council: Leaders Question and Answers 28/10

A Zoom call for Questions from the Public and Councillors was held on 28th October – a recording of the call can be found HERE

Questions included:

What is council doing to help and regenerate shops in the districts High Streets.

The potential for fishing on Folkestone Racecourse

How Markets and Market traders can play a key role in Town Centres and how can Market Traders be supported as they are not able to access the Covid Discretionary funding.

Will SWEP (Severe Weather Emergency Protocol) come into play after only 1 day of zero temp or below.

Some play equipment items have been removed from various recreation grounds, will they be replaced.

Mountfield Park development issues (Canterbury) will or will not impact Otterpool park development.

Residents who live in Marine Parade and Marine Crescent are experiencing issues with parking and dust, etc. caused by the new development.

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Asylum Seekers Welcomed to Ghost Busters

Jan Holben

Kent Refugee Action Group, with a number of other local organisations and churches organised a Welcome event for the asylum seekers accommodated at Napier Barracks, 100’s attended.

There was a gradual build up of event organisers and attendees, with just a handful of people at 10am standing outside Napier Barracks, chanting ‘we love you’, but gradually building to more than 250 attendees by the event start at 11am. A raggle taggle group of local dog walkers wandered across the playing field to watch too.

This event which had drawn considerable interest from both the ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ refugee groups was potentially a powder keg waiting to explode on the Sandgate/Cheriton border. However, the police were organised and very visible – with more than a dozen police vans parked in roads around Napier Barracks and with police men and women, walking freely amongst the crowd, or standing a little distance off – watching as people arrived or left.

As people waited for the 11 am start the organiser spoke on microphone to tell refugees who may have been listening (but could not be seen) that there would be a photo opportunity and if they wanted to display reciprocal signs or be included in the photo they would be welcome too. Whilst the crowd gathered and waved their welcome signs they listened and bobbed along to various tracks played through the loudspeakers; ‘You’ve got a friend in me’ or ‘Ghostbusters’.

The crowd was made up of men and women – young and older, with families and small children present too – mostly all wearing masks whilst they stood loosely together. At that point, there was little sign of ‘anti’ or far-right groups that were expected to attend, and this may have been because of a tactical plan put in place by the local authority working with Kent Police, and others such as the Intelligence & Roads Policing and British Railway Police. As cars drove past the Barracks they slowed down and sounded their horns ibn support – bringing more cheers from the gathered crowd.

At 11am the event organiser gave a short welcome speech, telling the mostly still unseen refugees, that they were welcome to Folkestone – there was lots of banner-waving and signs stating ‘we see you, we greet you, we welcome you’, or ‘black lives matter’ or ‘migration is beautiful’ amongst others. Each time a refugee face appeared at a window or in the courtyard where some migrants gathered, more cheers sounded, prompting more sign-waving and chants of ‘we love you’.

As the event came to a peaceful close – with the crowd still chanting ‘we love you’ over and over – it was possible to make out the sound of the refugees cheering too.

edit 22/10. I left the event as the crowd started to disperse, and it looked as if the police were using their cars to shut the road. I was later told that there was a small ‘anti’ group, perhaps 10 – 20 protesters who had been kept apart from the main group, and as the Welcome group dispersed the small ‘anti’ group did appear so that they could stage their peaceful protest.

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Ask your question at latest virtual session

The latest virtual Q&A session with the Leader of Folkestone & Hythe District Council is to take place later this month.

Cllr David Monk – alongside members of the Cabinet – will respond to enquiries in this new digital format for the fourth time on Wednesday 28 October at 4pm.

It will be broadcast live on the council’s YouTube channel for public meetings, which can be found by visiting

These virtual sessions have been organised to enable members of the public to ask questions in a public forum during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Residents must email their questions – which will be displayed on the screen during the meeting- to before 5pm on 20 October.

There will be a maximum time limit of half-an-hour for residents’ queries, with a further 45 minutes allocated to answer those put forward by councillors.

To help make the process fair, members of the public will only be able to ask one question each. Submissions may also be rejected, as is usual procedure, if it:

❌ is not about a matter for which the council has a responsibility or which affects the district

❌ is deemed defamatory, frivolous or offensive

❌ requires the disclosure of confidential or exempt information

❌ has already been asked within the previous six months

Date published: 14 October 2020

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Asylum Seekers – Concerns Addressed?

By Jan Holben

On 14th September F&HDC announced that Napier Barracks on the Sandgate and Cheriton border, would be turned into an ‘assessment and dispersal’ open facility for asylum seekers, with the first 25 young males arriving one week later on 21st September. Local people were justifiably angry and concerned at the lack of consultation when news broke and F&HDC quickly arranged a virtual meeting for 25th September. Representatives from the various involved agencies, including F&H MP Damian Collins attended the zoom meeting so questions could be answered.

Leader of the council Cllr Monk chaired the virtual meeting and introduced participants – he said that hundreds of questions had been received which had been summarised into 7 main areas of concern.

MP Damian Collins spoke to a number of concerns raised by local people – including how the camp is to be run, how access in and out of the camp is managed and how community issues are addressed.

1) Choice and use of site – why was Napier Barracks chosen?

Deborah Chittenden (Home Office) expressed regret that this decision, which had been taken rapidly, had damaged the relationship with F&HDC and its residents and expressed a hope that the relationship could be rebuilt. She explained that UK is legally obliged to provide supported accommodation for asylum seekers while their claim is being processed. With Covid national lock-downs earlier this year they were forced to take the decision to suspend all movement. This decision, along with new asylum seekers arriving daily caused a crisis creating the urgent need to find extra accommodation quickly – two sites had been proposed by the MOD – one in Wales and Napier Barracks just outside Folkestone.

2) Health matters – what arrangements are in place to manage Covid-19?

Allison Duggal (KCC Public Health England) said that the asylum seekers had all been in the country for more than 14 days, and were Covid tested. Furthermore, they have all been briefed on the ‘rule of six’ especially when they are outside, and that they should wear face-masks when in shops. She said in the unlikely event there was a Covid outbreak of more than 1 person at the Barracks an immediate ‘outbreak control meeting’ would take place to decide necessary action. To ensure social distancing each ‘dormitory’ within the Barracks is treated as a ‘household’. Allison said that is monitored daily so that the necessary public health actions could be taken immediately. There is also a nurse on site to ensure any physical or mental health problems for asylum seekers is addressed.

3) Site facilities – what is on site, and will additional services need to be provided?

Steven Lakey (Clear Springs Ready Homes) said that asylum seekers have TV and Wi-Fi on site plus sports equipment – so plenty to keep them occupied. A local voluntary sector organisation provides English language lessons on site too. Covid management processes are in place for on and off-site with hand sanitiser and face masks provided.

4) Security and safety – what controls are in place to manage people coming and going?

Steven Lakey went on to say that on the site Security team will control people leaving or coming into the site, and will remind asylum seekers that they are required to be in the Barracks accommodation overnight. He went on to say that although there is no national curfew, and the asylum seekers are not being detained – however if they aren’t back in the Barracks by 10pm the Security team will call them on mobile to conduct a welfare check, and remind them they must be in the Barracks overnight.

5) Community matters – what extra community security safety measures will be in place?

Chief Superintendent Nigel Brookes told how the Police will continue to monitor crime rates and will work closely with all stakeholders as well as listening to community groups concerns. He reminded local people that local crime could be reported via the Police website which can also be accessed on mobile too (

Nick Willkinson (KCC Prevent) talked about social media and how it played a part in influencing views with misinformation and biased content. He advised always check sources and ask yourself are images manipulated, is the narrator biased, is it helpful, is it respectful.

6) Health and well-being – what measures will be put in place to ensure the safety of those living in the barracks & what is the asylum process?

Helen Bransfield (Asylum Svcs, Migrant Help) explained that her Team are their to provide support to migrants – they provide face to face support, or interpreters if required. They will ensure all literature is translated and they provide a support escalation process via their 24/7 contact centre if required. Steven Lakey went on to explain that asylum seekers had a medical assessment before they arrived at Napier Barracks and those with particular vulnerabilities remained at the main London accommodation.

7) Local offers of support – how can local people help and support those living in the barracks?

Cllr David Monk mentioned the many offers of help received from local people and Helen Bransfield said that an email address would be set up to capture these offers of help.

To round the zoom meeting up Deborah Chittenden stressed again that it was the responsibility of the Home Office to provide accommodation and support for any person who enters the country destitute. Andy Kelly (Resettlement & Asylum Support) explained the process includes an assessment of personal circumstances, country of origin, reports of persecution and serious personal harm. After which formal interviews took place to determine if the case would be refused or granted. He said that although Covid had caused the process to slow down – they would be ramping up the volume of these interviews. In response to earlier questions from MP Damian Collins, Deborah Chittenden explained that asylum seekers in full accommodation are not given a cash allowance, although they may have their own money. If asylum seekers are in self catered accommodation they are given a small allowance for food and clothes. Asylum seekers are not allowed to seek work for the time they are in the asylum process, but if their case takes longer than 12 months, occasionally they are permitted to seek work. Deborah said asylum seekers could, however, do volunteer work and she had been encouraged to hear about volunteer opportunities.

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Flood Warning Training

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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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