THE first illegal migrants are set to move aboard the Bibby Stockholm barge TODAY – with 500 living there by the end of this week.
Home Office Minister Sarah Dines this morning confirmed asylum seekers would “imminently” start arriving on the ship moored in Portland, Dorset.
The barge is the size of a football pitch[/caption]
The Bibby Stockholm barge is expected to house its first migrants from next week[/caption]
A gym is also on board to help keep those staying on the barge fit[/caption]
It is part of the plan to reduce the crippling £6million-a-day cost of housing illegal arrivals in hotels.
The three-storey barge – as big as a football pitch – has 222 12x12ft ensuite bedrooms to accommodate men aged 18-65, who can enjoy a gym, a cinema room and canteen.
Ms Dines said the government is “hoping” to fill the Bibby Stockholm’s 500-person capacity by the end of the week.
She told the BBC: “We’re expecting pretty soon, imminently this week, in the coming days that people will be on the Bibby Stockholm.
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“For operational reasons, you wouldn’t expect me to confirm the hour or the day but it is pretty soon.”
Migrants on the barge will get welcome packs with bathroom essentials, a map and stationary, and can make use of buses and taxis to and from Weymouth.
Ms Dines insisted illegal asylum seekers would not be living in luxury despite the range of offerings on the vessel.
She said: “Luxurious hotel accommodation has been part of the pull, I’m afraid.
“There have been promises made abroad by the organised criminal gangs and organisations which have tried to get people into the country unlawfully and they say, ”You will be staying in a very nice hotel in the middle of a town in England”.
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She said migrants “can’t expect to stay in a four-star hotel”.
Labour yesterday admitted it would house Channel migrants in barges and converted Army bases — despite moaning about the plans for months.
Labour’s Shadow Immigration Minister Stephen Kinnock said: “The reality is that we’ve got tens of thousands of people in hotels.
“We need to get them out of hotels and we need to get them off the barges and out of the military camps too.
“But because of the complete and utter chaos and shambles of the Tory asylum crisis, we are going to have to continue in a very short-term period to use the infrastructure that is there — including the barges and the hotels.”
Rishi Sunak is still committed to sending migrants to Rwanda to deter small boat arrivals crossing the Channel.
A crunch Supreme Court battle against campaigners and lawyers is set for the autumn.
Some locals have objected to the barge saying the area doesn’t have the facilities to cope[/caption]
The barge is equipped with a restaurant which will provide hot meals[/caption]