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downsmail.co.uk


Sharing support for young immigrants


AT THE time of writing, 303 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) have been taken into the care of Kent County Council (KCC) since New Year’s Day 2021. There were 115 young people in May alone, the largest monthly number since October 2015. Last summer, similarly high numbers led to KCC having to suspend delivery of its statutory duty to care for UASC. On June 14, 10 months on, service suspension has been invoked again and to add to the challenge, the prole of arrivals has become more vulnerable and complex; increasing numbers of under 16-year-olds (with greater need for foster care accommodation), more young girls and more arrivals from “countries of origin”, which gives me concern about trafficking. These are some of the most vulnerable children in the world and we must look after them, but even a large authority like KCC has a limit on resources. I applauded the government’s decision, last summer, to increase funding to authorities responsible for large numbers of UASC. Numbers such as these, however, are no longer the exception and circumstances now demand an effective system for their transfer to other authorities around the country, to ensure the best care is given. That system does exist – it is called the National Transfer


By Helen Grant MP for


Maidstone & the Weald


Scheme (NTS), but it is voluntary and not favoured, it would seem, by authorities who have no port of entry.


The NTS needs to be mandatory and KCC needs support in trying to redress the disproportionate and escalating effect on Kent. We also need to ensure the children who come here, from often devastating circumstances, get decent life chances. I was pleased that 11 other Kent MPs signed


my letter to the government seeking urgent proposals to deal with the crisis, mindful that their consultation on the NTS concluded eight months ago but with no new proposals. It is time for the Government to act, and my colleagues and I believe local authorities across the country should play their part in addressing what is both a national and an international issue. However that is achieved, we need more equity, more buy-in and more funding across all of our regions.


Is there anybody out there?


THE publishers of my new book describe me as a “UFO expert”, which probably needs explaining as it’s not really a proper job (although book sales and live talks earn some money). UFO expertise resembles dedication to ob-


scure sports – we all know it happens; but we sel- dom meet the people involved. I’m an expert because I’ve been actively involved (member- ship of research groups, writing and talking on the subject and avidly consuming the books and magazines you won’t find over any counter), for all but the earliest years of my life. There are a few of us about; likely fewer than


one in every town. I live in Weavering. It’s ques- tionable whether I’m in a town to start with. UFOs are major international news again. One


of Trump’s parting shots as president obliged the USA to reveal what it knows about UFOs. The official report uses the term UAP (uniden-


tified aerial phenomena) as a more accurate rep- resentation of what the US appears to know; which is that there are genuine mysteries out there. Spectacular evidence is available, includ- ing camera footage shot by US military aircraft. Predictably it has gone down badly with the


bulk of UFO believers (or “Ufologists”), who think anything short of a frank admission we’ve had alien visitations amounts to a cover-up.


By Neil Nixon Author and UFO expert


I’m not so sure. To me this is a subject in need


of more people and critical minds. A few things have been obvious to many of us long-timers for decades. People from all walks of life experience the mysterious in ways that change their lives. If you want to see humanity in its most cre-


ative and bizarre, a live UFO event won’t disap- point you. It’s also a subject that will teach you about yourself. My opinion is that every explanation ever ad-


vanced in response to UFO reports; natural phe- nomena, mistaking the ordinary for the extraordinary, hoaxes, psychological episodes etc, explains some cases away. A hard-core of others remain unexplainable – try Googling the Wow Signal or Oumuamua for my candidates for the closest we’ve come to ET. l Neil Nixon is the author of UFOs, Aliens and the Battle for the Truth. His live talks are listed on Speakernet.


Opinion


L


OCAL GP Dr Anthony Fincham pulls no punches in his withering criticism of the British Medical Association (BMA), particularly on the topic of face- to-face consultations. Thundering in Her Majesty’s Daily Telegraph, Dr Fincham says: “The sad truth is the BMA has become a left-wing union no longer representative of the vast majority of medical practitioners. In the process, the best interests of patients have been wholly neglected.” Ouch!


OUNCIL leader and businessman David Burton gets away from the stresses of life and high office tending to a ock of 20 sheep at his smallholding near Headcorn. He tells me: “It’s very relaxing.”


C F


OR additional spiritual nourishment, I always turn to the parish mag at Bearsted, where the Holy Cross’s newest recruit appears to have had a slip of the nger when typing the following: “Hello. I am Catherine Ngangira. Curate at Holy Cross Breasted.” Oops.


R


EADERS may remember the editor of the estimable Chart Sutton Village News has been plagued by the local badger destroying her owerbeds. Now technology seems to have come to the rescue in the form of a sonic boom, which sends out waves Brock evidently dislikes. She enthuses: “It has different settings for bears, racoons, chipmunks, skunks and deer and, do you know, it works.” However, the cat format has not troubled the local moggies.


U I


P the road at Leeds Castle, two robot lawnmowers are now being


employed to tend the verges. Their names? Bert and Ernie, possibly after the Muppets in Sesame Street.


HEAR that the new Mayor of Maidstone, Fay Gooch, harbours two not-so-secret vices – milk chocolate and sherry. Presumably at the same time?


M


ALKING of Lib Dems, I call the amboyant councillor and builder David Naghi who is unable to speak, wailing: “I can’t talk to you now – I’m trying to unblock a toilet.”


T Chin chin! 47


Y VERY good chum, the Liberal Democrat borough member Nick


de Wiggondene-Sheppard, has resisted all attempts to be wooed back into the Tory town hall fold. He tells me: “As it happens, there were quite a lot of overtures…but I can conrm I remain a Lib Dem, however funny you nd it.”


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