Home Office confirms around 500 migrants will be housed on barge in Portland, Dorset

The barge called Bibby Stockholm Credit: ITV News

The Home Office has confirmed that it has leased a vessel to accommodate around 500 migrants off the coast of Portland, Dorset.

The barge, called the Bibby Stockholm, will be berthed in Portland Port and will accommodate single adult males whilst their asylum claims are processed.

There will be basic, functional accommodation on board, as well as healthcare provision, catering and 24/7 security to 'minimise disruption.

It will hold around 500 asylum seekers for at least 18 months, the Home Office has confirmed despite facing legal threats from local Tories.

The Government says that the use of vessels such as the Bibby Stockholm brings the UK "in line" with other countries around the world and in Europe.

It is thought the vessel will be in operation for at least 18 months and stay berthed in the port for that time.

“Basic and functional accommodation” and 24/7 security will be provided on the Bibby Stockholm vessel under Government plans to reduce the costly reliance on hotels.

The Home Office has not set out the cost of the lease agreement for the vessel that will be docked at Portland Port.

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.”

Chief Executive of Portland Port, Bill Reeves 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.

“There will be close cooperation with local agencies, including the health and emergency services during the preparations for the vessel’s arrival and its operation. We will also work closely with local community and voluntary groups.”

In response a Dorset Council spokesperson said: "We are aware of the Home Secretary's announcement this afternoon, confirming that the Home Office wishes to proceed with its plans to house asylum seekers in floating accommodation at Portland Port.

"Dorset Council's position has not changed. We still have serious reservations about the appropriateness of Portland Port in this scenario and we remain opposed to the proposals.

"However, the council will continue to support and acknowledge the concerns of our residents and local businesses.

"There are a number of questions which the Home Secretary's announcement does not address, we will continue to press the Home Office for answers and await further information."

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