A controversial barge that is set to accommodate 500 asylum seekers has arrived in Dorset, despite concerns raised by the local Conservative MP, who argued that the vessel might not be safe.
A month late, the Bibby Stockholm left Falmouth in Cornwall on Monday after the completion of the redevelopment work.
The government has insisted that the use of a barge is a cheaper alternative to accommodating migrants in hotels, stating that the hotel bill for accommodating them has reached £6m a day.
It comes as a Conservative MP has demanded to see the barge’s safety reports.
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Chris Loder, the West Dorset MP, claimed that the figure of 500 people quoted above was double the capacity the barge had been designed for.
Loder asked Interior Minister Suella Braverman to “detain” the ship or provide assessments showing that it is “safe to support twice the weight it was designed to carry.”
In addition to the barge, the government is using former military bases. There are also reports that large canopies could be used.
Mr. Loder writes: “For months, I have been asking to see the safety risk assessments that should have been done to allow the Bibby Stockholm to be used in the Port of Portland with 500 people on board, while it was designed to 250”.
“The Bibby Stockholm has already left Falmouth Dock. But there has been no visibility or assurance that proper security risk assessments have been completed.”
The MP also stated that following a call with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, it was “clear that they hadn’t done that job either, which we would normally expect them to do for a flagged ship in the water, which is the Bibby Stockholm.” .
Loder added: “I am writing tonight to ask you to detain the Bibby Stockholm or provide the necessary safety risk assessments confirming that this vessel is safe to carry twice the weight it was designed to carry.”
The 222-room ship is said to contain “basic” accommodation, with medical care, catering facilities and 24/7 security. It has a reported cost of £20,000 a day, the Home Office said in May.
Dorset Council has received a £2 million funding package to cover the cost of delivering services to residents.
The arrival of the Bibby Stockholm in Dorset comes hours after the government’s illegal immigration bill was passed by the Lords.
The flagship legislation now heads to the statute books after a night of voting saw Rishi Sunak manage to stop all proposed amendments.
MPs spent 90 minutes in the Commons voting lobbies yesterday to reject nine major Lords amendments.
The Illegal Immigration Bill is set to give the Home Secretary powers to quickly detain and deport anyone who comes to the UK illegally from their home country or to a third country such as Rwanda.
The last aspect of the bill’s mandate is currently subject to legal challenge in the Supreme Court.
Last night, the Government rejected further concessions. It will now go to royal approval to be enacted this summer after weeks of “ping pong” between the two chambers.