Home Office Confirms Hundreds Of Asylum Seekers Will Be Kept On A Barge

Ministers are legal action from the local Tory-led council over the choice of location.
The Bibby Stockholm barge
The Bibby Stockholm barge
Home Office

Hundreds of asylum seekers will be housed on a barge docked on the Dorset coast, it has been confirmed.

The Bibby Stockholm vessel will be docked at Portland Port and house more than 500 migrants in its 222 bedrooms.

It is estimated it will cost the public purse around £20,000 a day.

The Home Office is in discussions with other ports, and more barges will be used to house asylum seekers.

But home secretary Suella Braverman faces a potential legal action from Conservative-run Dorset Council, supported by the Tory MP for the area, Richard Drax.

The controversial move is part of Rishi Sunak’s plan to stop asylum seekers crossing the English Channel on small boats, while also cutting the £6m a day bill for housing migrants in hotels while their claims are processed.

The prime minister said: “We’re bringing forward alternative sites, like the barge, that will save us money and indeed reduce pressure on hotels - all part of our plan to stop the boats.”

Immigration minister Robert Jenrick said: “The home secretary and I have been clear that the use of expensive hotels to house those making unnecessary and dangerous journeys must stop.

“We will not elevate the interests of illegal migrants over the British people we are elected to serve.

“We have to use alternative accommodation options, as our European neighbours are doing – including the use of barges and ferries to save the British taxpayer money and to prevent the UK becoming a magnet for asylum shoppers in Europe.”

He insisted the accommodation “will meet our legal obligations” and also pledged to work with local people to address their concerns over the vessel’s location.

Bill Reeves, chief executive of Portland Port, said: “We are keen to play our part in the national effort to house some of the thousands of people needing accommodation.

“We encourage everyone in the community to approach this with an open mind and help us show other areas just how successful this type of initiative can be, both for the migrants and the local community.”

But Drax, the South Dorset MP, said the barge was being “dumped on our door” without consultation by the Home Office as he urged Ms Braverman to scrap the idea.

“Every option’s being looked at including legal action,” he told the PA news agency.

“We want to get this consigned to the dustbin before anything’s signed.

“We want to activate ourselves and say look Home Secretary, sorry, this is not the right place, can you please cancel this.”


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