Ministers confirm signing of deal to house 500 asylum seekers on barge in Dorset
The Government has confirmed it has signed a deal to house up to 500 asylum seekers on a barge in Portland Port in Dorset.
The contract will see the 93-metre-long Bibby Stockholm come under Home Office control.
The Home Office says the barge will accommodate about 500 single adult males whilst their asylum claims are processed.
Officials say it will provide basic and functional accommodation, and healthcare provision, catering facilities and 24/7 security will be in place on board, to minimise the disruption to local communities.
Migrants are due to be moved onto the Bibby Stockholm in the coming months. The Home Office says it’s in discussions with other ports and further vessels will be “announced in due course”.
Bibby Stockholm will be operational for at least 18 months and stay berthed in the port during that time, according to officials.
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.
“All accommodation will meet our legal obligations and we will work closely with the local community to address their concerns, including through financial support.”
The barge’s Parent-company Bibby Marine has said that it is still docked in Genoa in Italy.
In a statement, the company added:
“The Bibby Stockholm offers ensuite rooms, all with windows, which can be configured to suit client’s needs. Each room has a bed, desk, storage and ensuite facilities. Onboard there is a laundry, canteen, and social spaces.