ASYLUM seekers have not yet boarded the controversial Bibby Stockholm barge, moored off the Dorset coast, as one county MP said the vessel ‘cannot be deemed safe’.
Initially, the Home Office said up to 50 migrants would be housed on the Bibby Stockholm, at Portland Port, from Tuesday (August 1).
However, amid reports of failed fire safety checks, Transport Minister Richard Holden (Con, North West Durham) has said he ‘can’t put a timeframe’ on when the first residents would move in.
He told Sky News: “I can’t put a timeframe on it.”
“The checks are going to take as long as they’re going to take. It’s important we get these things right,” he added.
Checks could be completed as soon as Wednesday (August The barge could become operational on Wednesday, with a Home Office assessment), ready for the arrival of ‘male’ migrants in a bid to cut the use of hotel accommodation for asylum seekers.
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The Home Office previously confirmed an initial plan to house 50 men on the Bibby Stockholm, increasing to more than 500 in the coming months.
However, there have been protests against the mooring of the barge at Portland, as well as opposition from local MP, Richard Drax (Con, South Dorset).
And last month, fellow county MP Chris Loder (Con, West Dorset) said the barge ‘cannot be deemed safe as no risk assessment can be provided’.
In a letter to the Home Secretary and Baroness Vere (the Minister responsible for the Marine and Coastguard Agency), Mr Loder requested either the Bibby Stockholm is stopped, or that the necessary risk assessments are provided.
He also outlined concerns relating to overcapacity of the barge, which was designed for 250 people.