Barge set to house 500 asylum-seekers arrives in Falmouth

  • Watch footage of the barge arriving in Falmouth

A barge which is set to house hundreds of asylum seekers has arrived in the UK.

The barge has been towed from Italy to the port of Falmouth in Cornwall where it will be refitted.

The barge has 222 rooms and a capacity of 506 people.

Once refurbished, the Bibby Stockholm vessel will move to its final destination in Dorset in mid-June.

It will be docked in Portland Port where 500 single men seeking asylum will move onboard in a phased operation.

The Government said the plan is a cost-saving measure and part of a wider push to move migrants out of hotels.

The UK is currently housing more than 47,000 asylum seekers at the cost of £6 million a day.

But the plan has been widely criticised by the police, politicians and refugee groups.

Bibby Stockholm being brought into dock in Falmouth ahead of a refurbishment.

South Dorset MP Richard Drax has previously criticised the government for not consulting on the plans with the local council, the police or health authorities.

Mr Drax said: "What is clear is that the Home Office had made its decision before consulting with anyone other than the port.

“Now bombarded by questions it cannot answer and opposed by all the statutory bodies, the Home Office is trying to smooth troubled waters.

“It has been handled in the most discourteous way... I fear this barge could be in place for years to come."

  • Introduction video to Bibby Stockholm

Councillor Pete Roper, the Mayor of Portland, has also expressed concern: "The population of Portland is about 14,000 people.

"So an influx of 500 individuals within the course of a few weeks, is going to make a massive impact on the infrastructure and services on the island."

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

Australia has run a similar policy with offshore detention centres that have been dogged with accounts of severe trauma - with one suicidal girl trying to set herself on fire in one of the most shocking reports.

The widespread criticism of Australia's policy suggests the fierce opposition to the UK government's plans will continue for some time.

Australia's approach to immigration has been criticised for years. Credit: AP

In August 2012, Australia resumed sending people seeking asylum to Manus Island in Papua New Guinea and to the Republic of Nauru.

Since July 2013, the Australian government’s policy is that no one in this group will ever be resettled in Australia, even if they are recognised as refugees.

The Refugee Council of Australia reports 1,047 have been resettled to a third country. Another 998 were transferred to the US and 992 have been returned to their country of origin.

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