Pontins to house immigrants?


We have been here before, but once again residents in Camber are being told of the possibility that the Pontins holiday site is being considered for use as accommodation for illegally-arrived immigrants.

Rye News understands that a number of Pontins sites in various parts of the country are under consideration in an effort to move people out of expensive hotels to somewhat cheaper venues. Some of these sites, mainly in the North, have been rejected, but at the time of writing (February 7) Camber is one of those still under consideration.

Last year illegal immigration topped 40,000 and this year it is estimated that the figure could double unless action is taken to deter the traffickers. The Prime Minister has recently promised that he is going to do just this, however we have heard these brave words from successive prime ministers and home secretaries but so far without any successful action being taken. We do not yet know what Mr Sunak’s plans might be that will succeed where others have failed.

So Camber has cause for concern. Pontins can accommodate around 1,600 people. Evidence from the boats still arriving daily, or being picked up mid channel, demonstrates that a significant number – and often the majority – of the occupants are single young men often coming from ‘safe’ countries, such as Albania, and it is not surprising that a permanent full house in Pontins of this demographic is causing concern amongst many in a village where, they would argue, there is simply not the infrastructure to cope with such an influx.

Our MP has been approached and she is trying to get a definitive answer from the Home Office, but has so far only been told that various sites are under consideration and no decision has yet been made. Rother District Council and East Sussex County Council have also been made aware of this and have made their own representations on the unsuitability of Pontins, Camber.

In the meantime there is to be a Parish Council meeting to discuss this at 7pm on February 21 and, an hour before that, at 6pm, a village meeting. Both meetings will be at Camber Memorial Hall.

Image Credits: Nick Forman .

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  1. Many of the 1600 tourists at Pontins in any one week will visit Rye during their stay & spend money in local businesses; I regularly encounter holidaymakers from Pontins in Rye. The removal of those 1600 weekly tourist spaces would have quite an impact on the town’s economy.
    I recognise the need to humanely house immigrants whilst they are being processed, but is an area whose income is heavily dependent on holidaymakers, and already struggling with inflation & other negative factors, the best place to do so?

  2. Just to weigh in, tentatively, it is my understanding that the plan, such as it was, was to house families, not single men.
    Further, I have cause to believe the Home Office is not currently committed to this plan – or is at least reviewing it. The concern from communities across the country, was undoubtedly heard, and I’m sure Rye News has played its part in amplifying concern.

    • You’re correct, Annie. It is not illegal to claim asylum, and any grant of asylum isn’t conditional upon how you arrived and never has been. There is no such thing as an ‘illegal asylum seeker’. However, you must have a ‘well-founded fear of persecution’, and if it’s adjudged that you don’t, your application may fail. To complicate matters, people from ‘safe’ countries might very well have a ‘well-founded fear’ even though the bombs and bullets are not flying. So, for instance, whilst a young man from Albania might have a very low chance of being granted asylum in the UK, a woman or a girl from the same country often has a very high success rate.
      So, as ever, it’s not simple, but it is possible to understand why we are where we are. One of the biggest problems is perhaps the easiest to understand, and that is the failure of the Home Office to process claims.

  3. No it’s not illegal to seek asylum but it is immoral to seek it without a valid reason surely. They all travel through several very safe countries to try to reach us and we have to wonder why.
    Could it be they think we are a soft touch….which we are unfortunately.

  4. The word legal means permitted by law, there is a legal way of entering this country which is a method used by many thousands of people every day and is available for anybody to use.

    People entering or trying to enter this country in any other manner are acting contrary to law, therefore they are illegal immigrants regardless of their reasoning for doing so. It is as simple as that.

    Driving through a green traffic light is legal, driving through a red one is illegal. The intention is the same ie. to continue on a journey, which is the intention of all people as they first step ashore, whether legally or illegally.

    To use the term ‘illegally-arrived immigrant’ is a statement of fact if the method they chose to get here does not comply with the laws of this country.

  5. I think the point is that immigrants and asylum seekers are different categories of people with different rights. An ‘immigrant’ can arrive legally or by informal routes, thereby being a ‘legal’ or ‘illegal immigrant’. The waters have been muddied by this concept being cynically extended to asylum seekers, who, by definition, can never be ‘illegal’. The crux is whether their claim for asylum is valid or not.

  6. Well we visited friends at Pontins about 3 years ago and the state of the room was terrible looked like the late 60′ early 70s with a bad lino floor worst place I have ever seen. I would think it could be unfit for purpose unless they have totally refurbished recently. PS And it was not cheap

    • Barry, it’s not that simple, alas. The UK is having to house people bcs their cases are not being processed by the Home Office. The figure you quote highlights not so much that others ‘aren’t taking refugees’, but that people in need want to travel to countries they see as modern, just and tolerant. I suspect, God forbid, if we were ever in a similar position, we’d make the same calculation.
      Language is also a factor. A lot of people around the world have English as their first or second language – ours is a global language.
      Lastly, having been in Iraq and Kurdistan for many years, I can tell you, Kurdistan was awash with refugees which were sheltered and fed though the country was broke and the Peshmerga were fighting off Islamic State with rounds they bought in the local markets and body armour they were making out of scrap metal. Literally. Jordan was/is sheltering around three quarters of a million refugees. Germany, Spain and France take more refugees than we do, as your figures point out.
      None of that means there aren’t challenging issues that result from these circumstances, or that local people in Camber didn’t have a right to be concerned about the burden a large additional community might have exerted upon already straining infrastructure and services. The fact that the Pontins plan is not now happening is a good thing. It doesn’t mean we don’t have to stop thinking clearly and compassionately about how to resolve the issues facing our world.


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