Today I organised for the Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick MP to visit Dover and hear residents’ experiences.
The Minister heard from Aycliffe residents about how the boats had been landing on their local beach, with some migrants entering gardens and a home.
Aycliffe residents told the Minister about the concerns they had for their safety and that of their families, including one resident who says she has a sledgehammer to hand when she sleeps, after a migrant came over the garden fence into her garden over the summer.
Mr Jenrick also heard from County Councillor Sue Chandler, KCC Cabinet Member for children services, which includes responsibility for unaccompanied child asylum seekers about the strain on local Kent services.
Dover Councillor Nigel Collor explained to the Minister how public services in Kent are at “breaking point” with the massive number of small boat arrivals putting pressure on school places, housing and other services. He too said that there was widespread concern in the town about the scale of the boats crossings.
The small boats crisis is a deep concern for our community – and is causing real strain on schools, housing and the other public services on which we all rely.
It was important that the Immigration Minister was able to hear first hand from Dover residents and councillors about the local impact of this issue – which is now so bad that Kent leaders have described as at ‘breaking point’.
Robert Jenrick took time to listen and understand the issues and concerns facing local residents on the frontline. I felt the meeting was a useful opportunity for him to hear of the impact of illegal migration on the Dover community.
Cllr Sue Chandler said:
“Kent County Council has worked hard to look after unaccompanied young adults and children over a number of years. However, at times services have been overstretched as numbers have increased. We will always play our part to look after those in need of care, but it is important to tackle this issue at source and reduce the number making the dangerous journey from France.”
Cllr Nigel Collor said:
“Many residents tell me of their concerns about pressures on housing and local services. Both Kent County Council and Dover District Council have said that they are at breaking point in trying to cope with the consequences.”
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Aycliffe resident, Kerry-Anne Jones, said:
“It was very helpful to speak to him directly to get our point across as a community”
“I think Mr Jenrick was shocked to be fair of the impact over the last three weeks that it’s had on Aycliffe but he totally understands from what we’ve told him of how our community is feeling.”
Another resident who attended the meeting, Jess Parker, added:
“I think personally he didn’t realise how much of an impact it is having.”