PENALLY camp estimated costs of £55,000 a month should see the council “bashing down the door” at the Home Office for reimbursement.
An update on Pembrokeshire County Council’s involvement in the former army barracks being used to house asylum seekers by the UK government was discussed by members of the services overview and scrutiny committee on Tuesday (January 26).
Specific direct costs were being recorded, along with ‘in-kind’ costs on officer time and resources, the committee heard, with a number of attempts to get an agreement for repaying the costs from the Home Office having been made.
“There’s still be no agreement by the Home Office to repay our costs,” said director of finance Jon Haswell, which initial estimates indicate are around £55,000 a month.
Permitted development rights end on March 21 and if a planning application to extend the camp’s use is received, and then approved, “that’s nearly half a million pound this council is out of pocket, that’s horrendous, I don’t think we should be knocking at the door, I think we should be bashing the door down and full cost recovery should be made,” said Cllr David Pugh.
Cllr Jonathan Preston, Penally councillor, said it was “shocking” there was no agreement for payments from the Home Office adding that cost to the community council should also be paid back.
Committee chairman Cllr Rob Summons added the police and crime commissioner was also making representations on reimbursement for Dyfed-Powys Police costs.
Safeguarding issues have resulted in a number of vulnerable people being moved with 118 men at the camp as of January 21, said director of the infrastructure Darren Thomas, and a “collaborative approach” taken to manage the risk of covid-19 spread, a report to the committee adds.
Council “workstreams” impacted by the camp include community, highways and infrastructure, safeguarding and social services, public health issues, civil contingencies and communications.
Cllr Pugh also raised concerns about marches and protests being held in Tenby by those living at the camp but was told it was a policing matter.