Tory plan to use army barracks to house migrants 'ploy' to 'substitute sound bites for sound action'

Tory plan to use army barracks to house migrants 'ploy' to 'substitute sound bites for sound action'
Drone footage shows abandoned prison set to house asylum seekers

The government's plan to use army barracks to house asylum seekers is a "ploy" to "substitute sound bites for sound action", a migrant charity has said.

Speaking to indy100, Ravishaan Muthiah, communications director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) reacted to reports that Catterick Garrison, one of the army barracks that has recently been announced as a site to temporarily house people arriving in the UK, had heating and hot water problems last year, and said the government were acting "without any regard for the practicalities or human costs".

"Sadly, the news that Catterick Garrison barracks has been beset by heating and hot water problems comes as no surprise," he said.

"We know it isn’t the only barracks with these issues. The All Party Parliamentary Group on immigration detention last year found that Napier Barracks, which was used to house asylum seekers, was described as ‘fundamentally unsuitable’ with a catalogue of serious health and safety concerns.

"It is hard to see this as anything but another ploy straight out of this current government's playbook. That is, to substitute sound bites for sound action, without any regard for the practicalities or human costs."

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His intervention comes after immigration minister Robert Jenrick outlined new policies to house asylum seekers in parliament last week and said prime minister Rishi Sunak was "showing leadership" by "bringing forward proposals" to use barracks in Catterick Garrison in his Richmond constituency in North Yorkshire to address the problem of migrants arriving in the UK in small boats.

But previous reports have shown that the barracks, the largest British army garrison in the world, have been beset by heating and water problems in the last year, with recent Ministry of Defence figures revealing problems with heating systems were recorded 102 times since last February, and MPs discussing the issue in parliament.

A government spokesperson said: “We have always been upfront about the unprecedented pressure being placed on our asylum system, brought about by a significant increase in dangerous and illegal journeys into the country.

“We continue to work across government and with local authorities to identify a range of accommodation options.

“The government remains committed to engaging with local authorities and key stakeholders as part of this process.”

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