Described as “living in luxury” by the company that leases it, a barge set up to hold 500 asylum seekers has arrived in the UK.
The barge was towed from its former berth in Italy, to the port of Falmouth, in Cornwall in the early hours of Tuesday.
Will eventually be stationed in Portland, the three-story Bibby Stockholm is proposed as an alternative for refugees and asylum seekers in hotels. The Home Office has confirmed that only “single adult men” are allowed on board.
Operated by Liverpool-based Bibby Marine Limited, the 93-metre vessel will remain in Falmouth while the works are carried out, before being moved to its final destination in Portland, Dorset.
With “natural ventilation and wi-fi throughout”, it can accommodate up to 506 people across 222 bedrooms.
A spokesman for the Home Office said the barge would “provide basic and convenient accommodation, while also providing healthcare, catering facilities and 24/7 security, to minimize disruption to local communities”.
independence It was previously revealed that asylum seekers will have less living space than an average parking lot on Bibby Stockholm, which has seen at least one death and reported rapes and abuses. on board when the Dutch government used it to detain migrants in the 2000s.
Bibby Stockholm was used to detain asylum seekers in the Netherlands in the 2000s, but was shut down after a secret investigation by a Dutch newspaper uncovered mistreatment by officials. prisons, migrant rapes and fire safety flaws.
Several migrants imprisoned on the ship in the Netherlands are believed to have died, including an Algerian man on board. Bibby Stockholm in 2008.
After being refurbished, it was used as a residence for Petrofac workers who were building a gas plant in Shetland.
Pictures from inside the barge show the bedroom, dining area and gym.
But Portland Mayor Peter Roper has expressed concern about the “basic” healthcare facilities provided on board, he said. BBC 4 todayprogram that Portland’s health services have “reduced” over the years.
“The fact sheet (about barge facilities) says that basic healthcare facilities… don’t have (any) definition of that,” he said.
“If anything is more serious, those on the barge will likely have to go to Weymouth or Dorset General Hospital in Dorchester. It’s not only burdening the Portland area but also south Dorset itself.”
According to The Times, the Port of Portland has sought to prevent anti-migrant protests, which are believed to be aimed at protesting the presence of barges, targeting the arrival of tourists to the area on ships. tourism.
The paper says the southern port of Dorset often advertises arrival and departure dates on its website about 40 or more cruises that will dock during the year.
But The Times reports that, following criticism of the plan to allow Bibby Stockholm to anchor in their waters, the port’s website has since removed the date.
The media cited a source involved in the plan as saying that the date was taken down over concerns that far-right activists could organize anti-migrant protests on days when thousands Tourists will arrive on cruise ships.
A Port of Portland spokesman, when asked about the report, said: “All cruise calls are going on as usual at the Port of Portland but arrivals and departures are subject to change, as they are located anywhere. any port.
“Therefore, it is best to contact the relevant cruise line for the most up-to-date information.”