REFUGEE support groups have rubbished an MP’s claims that a beach has become “the chosen destination” for migrants crossing the Channel.

Hastings MP Sally-Ann Hart made the claims in an open letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel.

She also voiced her “deep unease” over the “increase in Channel crossings by migrants and the landings taking place at Pett Level”.

But her comments drew criticism from several groups including The Refugee Buddy Project, Hastings Supports Refugees and the Hastings Community of Sanctuary.

The groups produced their own open letter in response to the Conservative politician’s words.

It stated: “We are deeply concerned that your letter does not accurately reflect the situation itself or the feelings of your constituents here in Hastings and Rye.”

The letter continued: “To characterise the issue as ‘migrant crossings’ is to misread the situation.

“Those seeking refuge are not migrants, they are seeking asylum which is completely different and an important distinction.”

It also addressed her claims that Pett Level had become a “chosen destination”, saying: “It seems highly unlikely that these boats, which are little more than rubber dinghies, are aiming for Pett Level, but rather are drifting there due to currents and wind direction.

“To say it is a choice implies an attempt to raise anxiety among local people.

“You also suggest the situation “is causing deep unease and concern to local residents”.

“In fact, many of us are deeply concerned that Northern France is so unsafe for people seeking refuge that they are risking their lives to make the journey across the Channel.”

Sally-Ann Hart also said she could “appreciate that among some of those taking the perilous crossing over the Channel there are asylum seekers who should be treated with the care, consideration and support you’d expect”.

However, she believes the crossings are “clearly” being used by economic migrants as well and called for a “robust” response.

But the refugee groups questioned where she had learned this information, and called for an alternative course of action.

Their letter stated: “As we, and others, have said time and again, the only way to stop people risking their lives to enter the UK is to have safe and legal routes of entry.

“Furthermore, the attempt to turn this into an issue of criminal human traffickers is to ignore the global refugee crisis and our responsibility as a nation to respond to it humanely and fairly.”