First 50 asylum seekers expected to be sent to Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland on Tuesday

The Bibby Stockholm barge Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Home Office is expecting to send an initial 50 people to the UK’s first floating barge for asylum seekers on Tuesday despite safety concerns and local opposition.

A Whitehall source confirmed the details of the first arrivals at the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, and numbers are due to rise gradually over the coming months.

The floating facility will host around 500 men at a time under Government efforts to reduce the use of hotels to house people awaiting the results of asylum claims.

A record backlog and thousands of people making unauthorised crossings of the Channel have strained the system as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak battles to “stop the boats”.

Rival protesters argue in Portland Credit: Ben Birchall/PA

But refugee charities said the use of barges and former military bases to house asylum seekers is damaging to the needs of vulnerable people, and also raised concerns for migrants’ safety.

Conservative MPs representing areas where the facilities are being established have also been worried about how their constituencies will be impacted.

A month behind schedule after undergoing repairs, Bibby Stockholm was met by protesters as it arrived in Portland Port on Tuesday last week.

Some residents have raised concerns for their safety on the island with a population of around 13,000 and argued that it does not have the infrastructure to provide for the newcomers and those already there.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The Bibby Stockholm has completed a statutory inspection and refurbishment and is now berthing in Portland.

“The welfare of those in our care is of the utmost priority and the barge is now undergoing final preparations to ensure it complies with all appropriate regulations before the arrival of the first asylum seekers in the coming weeks.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...