REFUGEES seeking asylum in the UK are to be moved back on-board the Bibby Stockholm in Portland today, the Home Office says.
Several dozen asylum seekers were moved on to the vessel, at Portland Port, in August, but had to be removed after the discovery of Legionella bacteria in the water system.
Now, the Home Office says checks on the vessel have been completed, with people to board from today.
“From today, we are beginning to move people back on to the Bibby Stockholm in Portland,” they said.
“All necessary tests including health, fire and water checks have been completed, and are all satisfactory.
“The number of people on board will increase gradually with more arrivals in the coming days and months, as part of a carefully structured, phased approach.
“This is part of the government’s pledge to reduce the use of expensive hotels and bring forward alternative accommodation options which provide a more cost effective, sustainable and manageable system for the UK taxpayer and local communities.”
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However, the plan has received strong opposition from some Dorset residents and campaign groups.
Earlier this year, Dorset Council said it had ‘serious reservations’ about the plan, but has worked with the Government.
The Home Office has also confirmed accommodation on the Bibby Stockholm would be offered “on a no-choice basis”, with any asylum seeker who refuses the move facing having government support withdrawn.
It says the use of vessels is a “tried and tested approach” used in other European countries and offers “better value for the British taxpayer”.
It is understood the Bibby Stockholm will be operational for at least 18 months, although full costs of the vessel have not been revealed.
Dorset Council is receiving £3,500 per occupied bedspace, with funding also being provided to the NHS and police to help minimise the impact on local services.