Asylum seekers are set to return to Bibby Stockholm barge today – two months after it was evacuated over Legionella discovery
Asylum seekers are set to return to the Bibby Stockholm barge today, two months after it was evacuated following the discovery of Legionella in the water supply.
The Home Office has said all necessary tests have been completed and letters have been sent to asylum seekers confirming their re-embarkation.
On Tuesday, a van was seen to deliver food including fresh vegetables to the barge.
Several asylum seekers are expected to return today, with protests expected at the gates of the port from campaign groups who oppose the use of the barge.
The Home Office said all necessary tests have been completed on the Bibby Stockholm, which has been out of use since August. The vessel is pictured in Portland yesterday
Nicola David, of the One Life To Live campaign, said that a letter signed by the 39 men who previously stayed on the barge described how they had found the Bibby Stockholm to be a ‘terrifying residence’ like a prison and had left them feeling ‘stress and anxiety’, with one of the asylum seekers having attempted suicide.
She said: ‘Nothing about the Bibby Stockholm has gone well – it wasn’t even the Home Office’s first or second choice of barge, so they had to settle for something 50 years old, rotten, and unfit for use.
‘The barge had endless delays for repairs, Legionella, failed plumbing, and fire safety failure.
‘I discovered that it costs more per head than hotels, not less, so the Government’s strategy doesn’t add up. And there are claims going through the High Court.’
Last week, local councillor Carralyn Parkes, who is mayor of Portland, lost a High Court fight against Home Secretary Suella Braverman over the lawfulness of housing asylum seekers on the barge.
Several residents are expected to return today, with protests expected at the gates of the port from campaign groups who oppose the use of the barge for housing asylum seekers
A Home Office spokesperson said previously: ‘The Home Office has started to send letters to asylum seekers to confirm the re-embarkation of the Bibby Stockholm and notify them that they will be accommodated on board, following the vessel completing all necessary tests.
‘The letters confirm the next steps for asylum seekers and reiterate that all asylum accommodation continues to be offered on a no-choice basis.
‘Delivering alternative accommodation sites, such as the vessel, is more affordable for taxpayers and more manageable for communities, due to healthcare and catering facilities on site, 24/7 security and the purpose-built safe accommodation they provide.’
On Tuesday, a van was seen to deliver food including fresh vegetables to the barge
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