Angry locals stage protests in Dorset as the BB Stockholm barge carrying 500 male asylum seekers is set to arrive in port at the popular seaside resort today.
A crowd of angry local protesters was seen at the Port of Portland this morning
A huge floating barge to house hundreds of male asylum seekers reached its final destination off the Dorset coast this morning, with angry locals rallying to oppose the move.
BB Stockholm is a huge ship capable of housing up to 500 migrants.
It set sail yesterday from Falmouth in Cornwall to its final destination of Portland. But the move has sparked protests from locals who fear the impact the newcomers will have on the city’s communities.
A crowd was seen outside Portland Port near Weymouth this morning holding signs saying ‘Know the Barge’, ‘Portland Port Betrayed Portland’ and ‘Portland Betrayed’ as they waited for the ship to arrive.
Local politicians slammed the plans as ‘cruel and unusual’ and added that the community did not have the right infrastructure to accommodate more people in the area.
BB Stockholm (pictured arriving in Dorset this morning) is a huge migrant barge capable of housing up to 500 migrants.
A crowd was seen outside Portland harbor near Weymouth this morning holding signs reading ‘Know the Barge’, ‘Portland Betrayed Port Portland’ and ‘Portland Betrayed’ as they waited for the ship to arrive.
Protesters outside Portland Port near Weymouth in Dorset this morning
The barge was put into Falmouth for a refit to upgrade her accommodation after a month’s delay due to a marine inspection. Bad weather also added to the delay.
The Illegal Migration Bill, the centerpiece of the Prime Minister’s plan to ‘stop boats’ crossing the English Channel, is set to become law after the House of Lords voted last night.
The bill is part of a package of measures designed to stop migrants from crossing the Channel, making it clear that if people enter the UK irregularly, they cannot stay and face deportation to their home country or to another country. Third countries such as Rwanda.
The deal to send migrants on one-way trips to Rwanda is mired in legal complications and will end up in the Supreme Court. It was declared illegal by appeal court judges last month.
With a backlog of asylum cases in the UK, the government is looking to reduce the cost of hotel bills by using alternative accommodation, including BB Stockholm and former military bases.
Councils and campaigners have been given the green light to bring a High Court challenge against housing migrants at disused airfields.
Braintree District Council and nearby residents are bringing legal action to challenge the use of Wethersfield in Essex to house 1,700 men while West Lindsay District Council is challenging similar plans for RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire.
Dozens of asylum seekers have already been relocated to Wethersfield. The first migrants are expected to board BB Stockholm later this month. But the ship’s arrival angered locals, who protested plans to dock it in Portland.
Two protest groups – No to the Barge and Stand Up to Racism – have voiced their objections to the barge being blocked, along with residents in Portland as well as MPs for Dorset South, Dorset Council and NHS Dorset.
Chief among their concerns is the impact the sudden introduction of 500 people will have on the local community.
Locals fear already overstretched services, including GP surgeries, will not be able to cope with the influx.
Many expressed concerns about an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour, risks to their personal safety and the impact on tourism.
But Downing Street yesterday defended the use of accommodation barges for migrants, insisting it was a cheaper alternative to their hotel accommodation.
Asked if Rishi Sunak had a message for the public at Portland Port, the prime minister’s official spokesman told reporters: ‘I think it’s right for the public that we get out of a situation where taxpayers’ money is going to £6m a day. Towards accommodation of these persons in hotels.
‘It’s not a good use of money and obviously it also puts unintended pressure on local areas.
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