The Government has announced plans to house about 500 male migrants on a barge moored off the Isle of Portland in Dorset.
The three-storey Bibby Stockholm will be cheaper than using hotels, according to the Home Office, although they have not released any costings. The Times has reported a daily charter fee of £15000 per day , while the cost of berthing it would be £4,500 a day, not including security and catering.
It was originally criticised as “an oppressive environment’ when the Dutch government used it for asylum seekers.
The Refugee Council has attacked the plan as “completely inadequate” to house “vulnerable people” and the British Red Cross said that it would not offer the supportive environment needed by traumatised refugees forced to flee their homes. It called for an “effective and compassionate system” that would help people to integrate into a community.
Local opposition has been fierce. Dorset Council said it was opposed to the plan, as it had serious reservations about the suitability of Portland as a location. Portland already has two prisons and one of the highest deprivation rates in the country. The area has only one GP.
The local Conservative MP, Richard Drax, who has previously backed rigorous measures to cut migration, has threatened legal challenge to the scheme, which he says has been imposed without consultation on an area dependent on tourism.