PLANS to house asylum-seekers in a former drugs factory in Clacton have been withdrawn after concerns were raised by the town’s MP.

Clacton MP Giles Watling revealed the Home Office emailed Tendring Council on Sunday afternoon providing “only 24 hours’ notice” that a new asylum site would open in the resort.

It is understood the property was to be the former Sunnyview Lodge care home, in Wash Lane, the disused site of which was later used by drug dealers as a cannabis factory.

Police discovered more than 1,000 cannabis plants with an estimated street value of £1million in December 2020 during a drugs raid.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Plants - 1,000 cannabis plants were found in the property in 2020. Picture: Essex PolicePlants - 1,000 cannabis plants were found in the property in 2020. Picture: Essex Police (Image: Essex Police)

Plans to house asylum-seekers in the property were withdrawn after Mr Watling asked an urgent question of Home Office minister Robert Jenrick over the lack of consultation with local authorities in the selection of hotels for asylum accommodation.

Mr Watling said: “Since I raised my urgent question, regarding the proposed asylum accommodation, I am pleased to report that I received a written note from the Home Office telling me that this site is now not to be opened.

“I think it’s utterly unacceptable for the Home Office to make no effort to meaningfully consult with local councils like Tendring and local representatives like me.

“Simply accepting more and more arrivals is what these evil people traffickers want to hear.

“I have also written to the Prime Minister with my view that it is time to ask the Ministry of Defence to take over from a failing Home Office to fix the logistics for those who need help and, vitally, stop these unseaworthy boats from leaving the French coast and put these illegal people traffickers out of business.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Concerned - Clacton MP Giles WatlingConcerned - Clacton MP Giles Watling (Image: Submitted)

Mr Watling said he has also called for money to be spent on putting British boots on the ground in France as part of a joint operation.

Mr Jenrick said the Government will aim to improve how it communicates with local councils and MPs when hotels in their areas are chosen to house asylum seekers.

He said: “As I understand it, a proposition was put to Tendring Council to take a former care home in his constituency which would have accommodated a small number of asylum seekers.”

He added the accommodation had since been “dropped by the Home Office”.

A Tendring Council spokesman confirmed the Home Office had emailed the authority on Sunday evening, notifying the authority of its intention to use a Clacton property to house asylum seekers within 24 hours, but that the department later told the council it could not secure the accommodation and would not be using it.

He added: “Despite the out-of-hours notification from the Home Office, council officers responded quickly to highlight concerns to officials that the proposed site did not meet legal requirements.”