COLUMN: Bibby Stockholm a “cruel gimmick that simply does not work”

IN this column, Labour parliamentary candidate for South Dorset, Lloyd Hatton, responds to a report which states the Bibby Stockholm costs more than hotels to house asylum seekers.  

This week we learnt that the Bibby Stockholm barge will cost the taxpayer millions more than the hotels previously being used to house asylum seekers.

The spending watchdog confirmed that £46 million extra will now be spent on the barge and other sites used to accommodate asylum seekers.

It is infuriating to see it confirmed that the Bibby Stockholm will cost us all a small fortune.

This government is burning through public money on gimmicks, all while our key services are cut to the bone and economic growth is choked off.

The watchdog also outlined that each asylum seeker housed on the barge is costing the public purse around £255,555.56.

This eye watering amount could be much better spent elsewhere – including fixing our asylum system.

The barge has been a sorry saga.

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First it was late to arrive.

Then it was flagged as a fire risk and having legionella bacteria in the water system – leading to a costly evacuation.

The barge has been beset with expensive problems since it arrived in Portland harbour last year.

Across Swanage and Purbeck, you’ve been telling me that you feel ignored and frustrated with this extortionate barge.

I don’t blame you.

It is a cruel gimmick that simply does not work.

It is unforgivable that Conservative-run Dorset Council, a Conservative Home Secretary, and our Conservative MP landed us with a barge without properly listening to our community.

We cannot go on like this.

If I am elected as South Dorset’s next MP, I will work tirelessly to claw back the money wasted and end the use of barges to house asylum seekers.

And I will work alongside an incoming Labour Government to fix our asylum system and stop the dangerous small boat crossings in the first place.

It’s time for a fresh start.

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