Dorset MP likens proposed asylum seeker barge to 'part-time prison' amid Portland plans

The Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge moored in Lerwick harbour, Shetland, when it was being used by construction workers building an oil gas plant Credit: PA images

A Dorset MP has likened a barge that could house asylum seekers to a "part-time prison" after floating accommodation plans emerged in Portland.

Conservative MP Richard Drax says he contacted the Home Secretary "urgently" regarding the proposals that would see the barge house more than 500 migrants.

The Bibby Stockholm vessel would reportedly cost taxpayers more than £20,000 a day.

Richard Drax, the MP for South Dorset, told ITV News West Country the plans were "impractical", "illogical" and in the wrong place.

It comes as he, along with Dorset Council, are considering launching a legal challenge to the plans.

He said: "In the port itself you're going to have hundreds of people on a barge, there are a lot of 'don't knows'.

"Who is looking after them, what are they going to do, what are their health provisions, what happens if there's trouble onboard?

Conservative South Dorset MP Richard Drax has hit out at the plans saying Portland is the wrong place Credit: ITV News

"Then they have got to leave from a highly restricted area in a bus no doubt into the community. Where do they go, where are they dropped and who monitors them?

"There are so many questions we don't have answers to. I think the location is going to be cause for trouble.

He says he has shared his concerns with Home Secretary Suella Braverman but has yet to get a response.

He added: "I have sympathy for the government, I have sympathy for the asylum seekers and I have sympathy for everyone here.

"It is a major issue, there's only one solution as I see it longer term - that is to build properly resourced reception centres.

"This is not nimby-ism, this is not the right place for hundreds of migrants to come to, there's absolutely no link for them here.

"Like so many of our seaside towns we have our shared deprivation, resources are stretched, the police force is stretched and we rely heavily in the summer on tourists and visitors."

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The pressure on the asylum system has continued to grow and requires us to look at a range of accommodation options which offer better value for money for taxpayers than hotels.”

Earlier today Portland Port confirmed the plans to house asylum seekers.

Bill Reeves, Chief Executive of Portland Port, said: “Portland Port has been selected by the Home Office to provide space for an accommodation facility.

"We are currently liaising with the Home Office about the next steps.”

The Home Office says new types of accommodation must be used to reduce a £6 million daily bill for using hotels.

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