Plans to house thousands of migrants in new and cheaper accommodation could face new setbacks – amid fears that the Bibby Stockholm barge could be a “floating Grenfell”.
The Home Office had been expecting to send an initial group of people to the UK’s first floating barge for asylum seekers on Tuesday. However, reports say the barge has not received approval from local fire services.
The facility, in Portland, Dorset, will eventually host about 500 men at a time. However, this morning a national newspaper reported serious fire safety concerns about the vessel with fire service approval pending. One source told the paper of fears the barge could become a “floating Grenfell”, in reference to the west London tower block tragedy in 2017.
It comes after plans to move 2,000 migrants into RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire were reportedly delayed until October, after delays in conducting surveys on the 14 buildings designated for migrant accommodation. The Times also reported the Home Office will this week move more migrants into accommodation at RAF Wethersfield in Essex.
It comes despite a small number of positive results for tuberculosis being detected at the former RAF site in Braintree. A Home Office spokesperson said: “Delivering accommodation on surplus military sites and vessels will provide cheaper and more orderly, suitable accommodation for those arriving in small boats.
“The Bibby Stockholm is now undergoing final preparations to ensure it complies with all appropriate regulations before the arrival of the first asylum seekers in the coming weeks.
“In addition, the Home Office is working with stakeholders on a carefully structured plan to increase the number of asylum seekers at Wethersfield in a phased approach.”