A COUNTY Councillor has written to colleagues about the conditions at the Penally barracks being used to hold asylum seekers.

In a letter to fellow councillors, the council leader, and director of social services and housing, Penally councillor, Jonathan Preston, questioned the suitability of the camp after a report from the BBC outlined criticisms by asylum seekers at the camp.

The asylum seekers said that the site was cold and "impossible to social distance", with some saying the barracks brought back memories of wars they fled from.

Cllr Preston said in his letter: "A recent report by the BBC has exposed some of the poor conditions at Penally barracks.

"According to the report the occupants have criticised the conditions at the camp and that there are men under the age of 18 accommodated there.

"I have stated from the onset that Penally barracks is not a suitable facility to accommodate those fleeing persecution."

One of the asylum seekers that spoke to the BBC said: "He came from war and political fighting and now they put him in an army camp.

"Being here, he remembers all the things that happened to him. It's scary."

Cllr Preston was also concerned there may be other hidden issues on the site, like asbestos.

He said: "I made my feeling clear to the Home Office when I told the immigration officers that I was deeply uncomfortable with the possibility that we may not be fully adhering to our legal humanitarian responsibilities.

"People may consider that the camp was suitable for the British Army, but I would argue that the soldiers have not been based there for extended periods for some time and that of late it’s primary use was to accommodate small numbers for live firing training on the range.

"I am not aware of any buildings maintenance to certify that there are no asbestos or water supply hazards in the buildings that were constructed during the 1940s.

"Is this really how we want to be remembered for our involvement in this humanitarian crisis?

"The county council has made significant progress in safeguarding vulnerable adults and this is happening on our watch.

"I will continue to liaise with key stakeholders, partners and charitable organisations in challenging this decision by the Home Office."

In response to the BBC's report a Home Office spokesman said: "Following a review of available government property, the [Ministry of Defence] agreed to temporarily hand over two of their sites in Kent and Pembrokeshire which are now being used to house asylum seekers.

"Nobody staying at these sites is being detained. Asylum seekers are able to come and go from the accommodation and are staying in safe, Covid-compliant conditions, in line with the law and social distancing requirements."