Despite calls from local authorities and councillors to reverse the decision of the Home Office to repurpose Penally training camp, more asylum seekers have arrived at the facility this morning (Monday, September 28).

Pembrokeshire County Council, the Hywel Dda University Health Board and local stakeholders have sent an open letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel expressing concern and calling for the decision to be reversed, stating that they are particularly disappointed by the ‘lack of communication and discussion’ with local stakeholders and the community; whilst Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner, Dafydd Llywelyn has also sent correspondence to the Home Secretary, calling on the Home Office to halt further movements of asylum seekers to Penally.

However, following the controversial decision by the Home Office to repurpose the village’s army training camp to accommodate up to 234 males, with the majority of occupants believed to be from Iran and Iraq, more are believed to have been transported to the facility today, with an estimated 30 asylum seekers now on site.

With a week passing since the training camp has been operationally active as a contingency holding unit for asylum seekers, Penally’s county councillor Jon Preston has stated today that despite attempts to engage, the camp management team have yet to open any lines of communication with him.

“I spoke with a Home Office official last week and stated that I am deeply uncomfortable with the possibility that our human rights obligations may not be possible to uphold in such a facility,” stated Clr. Preston.

“It is my understanding that the asylum seekers have been removed from support networks established within the UK who have the infrastructure to provide them with their essential medical, spiritual, emotional, and domestic needs.

“They have then been transported during the night to Penally where they have witnessed mass protests and media attention.

“Due to the highly prominent location of the camp it has now become a point of public curiosity creating an environment of anxiety and fear for those on both sides of the fence.

“I have met with residents and business owners over the weekend, and it is still not clear why such a facility has been established in the heart of one of Europe’s premier holiday destinations.

“I am in contact with the BBC with a view to raising national awareness of the situation at Penally camp and how it has been implemented by the Home Office as I consider this to be of national importance.

“It will not benefit anyone to have a government enquiry in five years’ time to tell us ‘lessons have been learnt’. The injustice is happening now in real time and this decision must be re-called as a matter of urgency,” he continued.

In further comments given to a national newspaper, Clr. Preston reaffirmed his belief that the site is not fit for purpose, and that the development is already causing a negative impact on the local tourist economy.

“No consideration has been afforded to the elderly population in the area or to the needs of a large group of vulnerable adults. The autocratic manner in which this decision has been made should be a concern to us all. We will continue to demand that it is reconsidered,” he added.