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Inside the boat hotel set to house asylum seekers


More than 3,000 asylum seekers will be out of hotels and into three alternative accommodation sites by the autumn, the Home Office claims.

The first of up to 500 asylum seekers are expected to board the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge in Portland harbour in the coming weeks.

All of those who will stay on the Bibby Stockholm are single young males, who are currently living in hotel accommodation.

The Home Office says the Bibby Stockholm barge and two former RAF bases in Essex and Lincolnshire will start receiving more asylum seekers over the coming weeks, with at least 3,000 housed between the sites within the next few months.

The vast majority of the Bibby Stockholm’s 222 cabins have been converted to sleep two people.

The rooms all have en suite bathrooms and storage of clothing and personnel effects.

The cabins are similar to the standard of accommodation in a student halls of residence.

But the barge also houses a number of communal areas.

Amongst these is the TV room, with around eight comfortable sofas and a large plasma television screen.

There is an IT room with more than a dozen desks and computers, connected to the internet.

There is also wifi connection throughout the barge.

The facility also has a gym, equipped with running and cycling machines and weights. There is a large communal restaurant and two outside recreational spaces.

The barge also boasts medical facilities with on-site nurse-practitioners and an on-call doctor and dentist.

Last week the Home Office announced that the first asylum seekers had moved to the former military site at Wethersfield in Essex.

A Home Office spokesperson said the sites provide "basic and functional accommodation", which is cheaper than using hotels.

However, the Home Office has refused to disclose how much the barge is costing to run and the size of any savings that are being made.

Ministers claim the use of vessels as accommodation platforms brings the UK into line with other European countries, where migrants are already being accommodated on vessels in the Netherlands and Ukrainian refugees on cruise ships in Scotland.

According to reports, Dorset Council is receiving £3,500 for each asylum seeker housed on the Bibby Stockholm.

Additional funding is also being provided to the local NHS and police. Dorset Council has also received almost £380,000 in a one-off grant.