Bibby Stockholm: Government considers more migrant bargeson January 18, 2024 at 11:25 am

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There is controversy over living conditions on board the Bibby Stockholm.

The Bibby Stockholm barge pictured from a corner. It is sitting in the dock, the name of the boat is visible on its side in large letters. The barge appears to have three floors with windows, similar to what you would see in a flat block.Image source, PA Media

The Home Office has told the BBC it is still considering housing asylum seekers on barges, despite controversy over living conditions.

It follows various problems on the Bibby Stockholm, the only accommodation barge commissioned so far, which is harboured off Portland in Dorset.

Last year, ministers touted the barges as a way of cutting the cost of housing migrants in hotels.

Other options, such as former military sites, are also being explored.

When asked whether it was struggling to find ports who would agree to moor the barges, the Home Office said it did not comment on “ongoing procurements”.

A spokesperson said: “We continue to look at a range of alternative accommodation sites to house asylum seekers, including vessels which have been used safely and successfully by Scottish and Dutch Governments, and former military sites.”

An aerial shot of the Bibby Stockholm

Image source, EPA

The Bibby Stockholm houses people awaiting the outcome of their asylum applications and has capacity for up to 500 men.

In December an Albanian asylum seeker died while living on board the three-storey barge and is thought to have taken his own life.

The discovery of dangerous bacteria also led to its evacuation last summer, days after the arrival of the first asylum seekers, and it remained vacant for two months.

Portland’s mayor Carralyn Parkes recently described the barge as “wholly unsuitable” for housing people on a long-term basis.

Campaigners have also called for all migrants on board to be taken off.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “We continue to look at all options about how we can expand capacity, including with barges.

“And we’ve been clear the use of hotels to house asylum seekers is unacceptable.”

Additional reporting by PA Media.

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