Mark Whitehead 04 April 2023

Plan to house refugees on a barge criticised

Plan to house refugees on a barge criticised image
Image: Sean Aidan Calderbank /

The Government is facing fierce opposition to plans to use a barge off the Dorset coast to house asylum seekers.

It is said to be planning to use the 222-room Bibby Stockholm for the migrants under plans to reduce reliance on hotels.

But local Conservative MP Richard Drax said he was considering ‘all legal routes’ to try and stop the proposal.

The Government says more than £6m a day is being spent on hotels for migrants, but charities reject military bases and boats saying they are ‘wholly inadequate places’ to house people fleeing war and persecution.

The three-storey Bibby Stockholm, which can house more than 500 people, has been refurbished since it was criticised as an ‘oppressive environment’ when the Dutch government used it for asylum seekers.

It now has en suite rooms, a TV and games room and a gym according to its owners, Bibby Maritime.

The Government has so far refused to confirm the plan, but 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.’

Mr Drax has described the use of boats as ‘totally and utterly out of the question’, saying it will exacerbate existing problems 10-fold.

Last week immigration minister Robert Jenrick announced plans to use ex-military bases to house migrants.

He told the Commons that ‘the sheer number of small boats have overwhelmed the asylum system’, adding that the Government would ‘not elevate the wellbeing of illegal migrants above the British people’.

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