Backlash against migrant barge in the middle of a holiday hotspot that could open before the summer season – with plans to open an even bigger one with TWO THOUSAND people aboard
- The Government confirmed plans to place a barge in Portland Harbour last night
- A second even bigger barge is set to be moored in a major port town or city
Housing 500 migrants on a barge off a Dorset holiday hotspot will put a heavy ‘load’ on local health services and the tourist industry, locals have warned amid a backlash at the plan.
The Government confirmed plans to hire a floating holding unit and moor it in Portland Harbour last night.
The harbour is close to Weymouth, a popular seaside holiday destination, and the Jurassic Coast, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It is a stopping point for cruise ships visiting the UK.
Minister Rick Holden this morning suggested the first guests could board the Bibby Stockholm within weeks, as the Government seeks to cut the multi-million-pound migrant hotel bill.
Reports today suggested plans are in motion to hire a second barge able to hold four times as many people, likely to be moored in a major port town or city.
Peter Roper, the Mayor of Portland, today warned housing asylum seekers on a barge in the harbour will ‘put a load’ on the isle and on south Dorset.
The councillor said: ‘Going by hearsay that we’ve heard about other areas where asylum seekers have been housed in hotels, it has had a detrimental effect on the towns around those particular hotels.
‘Our tourism industry will be kicking off just about the time these first occupants will be coming onto the barge. We have no idea what effect that will have on our tourism industry.’
The Bibby Stockholm barge will be moored at Portland Harbour in Dorset, off the Jurassic Coast
Minister Rick Holden this morning suggested the first guests could board the Bibby Stockholm within weeks, as the Government seeks to cut the multi-million-pound migrant hotel bill
Peter Roper, the Mayor of Portland, today warned housing asylum seekers on a barge in the harbour will ‘put a load’ on the isle, which is famous for Portland Bill lighthouse
The harbour is close to Weymouth, a popular seaside holiday destination (top), and the Jurassic Coast, which is a Unesco World Heritage Site (above)
Mr Holden told Sky News the barge would not impact nearby communities and insisted that ports where accommodation barges could be deployed are often ‘protected areas’.
Pressed on whether migrants would be effectively imprisoned on the barges, Mr Holden said: ‘No, it is not a type of prison at all. What these places are is for people to be safe and secure while their immigration claims and asylum claims are processed in the UK.’
He added: ‘One of the issues that a lot of people are worried about is the impact on local services.
‘One of the things we are going to ensure with all of these sites is things like doctors’ facilities they will have on site, so that they can be processed there and looked after on site without the need to impact on local communities.’
Asked about a start date for the plan, he said: I know contracts are being discussed at the moment around the UK with different areas, so I can’t give you a definite date and timeline on it.
‘But this is what we are hoping to do. We are hoping to do this as quickly as possible.’
Pressed on whether it could be within a month, he added: ‘It could even be sooner than that. It might be a little further away.’
It will be the first time asylum seekers in the UK have been housed on an accommodation barge – which is normally used for maritime or offshore workers
The barge, operated by Liverpool-based Bibby Marine, features a games room and bar