Liverpool and Middlesbrough could host next barges for asylum seekers – reports

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Barges housing asylum seekers will reportedly be moored near Liverpool and Middlesbrough.

Rishi Sunak revealed two more giant vessels will be used for migrant accommodation as he insisted his plan to stop Channel crossings was “starting to work”.

According to The Guardian, these are expected to be moored at Teesport in the North East as well as in docks close to Liverpool.

The Home Office refused to comment on the reports, although the Government is expected to confirm which locations will be used in the coming weeks.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak onboard Border Agency cutter HMC Seeker during a visit to Dover
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak onboard Border Agency cutter HMC Seeker during a visit to Dover (Yui Mok/PA)

A spokesman for Wirral Council told the PA news agency: “No decisions have been made and conversations are continuing with the Home Office.”

The newspaper also cited sources which said discussions over the acquisition of further barges and disused cruise ships had taken place, meaning thousands of asylum seekers could be housed in vessels on Tyneside near Newcastle, Harwich in Essex, Felixstowe in Suffolk and the Royal London docks near City Airport. These reports have not been confirmed.

Meanwhile Dorset Council confirmed it would not launch legal action over the Home Office’s decision to site a vessel which can house around 500 migrants in Portland Port.

The council leader and the county’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) had voiced concerns about the port’s decision to allow the Bibby Stockholm to dock.

But in a statement on Tuesday a council spokesperson said: “After much careful consideration, Dorset Council has decided to not pursue legal action to challenge the Home Office’s decision to site a barge for asylum seekers in Portland Port.

“Based on specialist legal advice, and the experience other councils have had across the country, any legal action we take is unlikely to be successful and would incur high costs to Dorset taxpayers.

“We are committed to working with the Home Office and our partners to ensure minimal impact to public services for local people and that provision for the asylum seekers is properly resourced and is effective.”

In a speech in Kent on Monday, Mr Sunak said the number of people making the journey across the Channel was down by around a fifth since last year but acknowledged the Government has “a long way still to go”.

But during his visit to Dover, he played down suggestions that fewer crossings were a result of poor weather conditions at this time of year rather than policy decisions.

Opposition critics likened the announcement of yet more measures to tackle the crisis to “Groundhog Day” and accused Mr Sunak of “cynical spin”.

It comes as peers threatened to delay the Illegal Migration Bill until the Government publishes the “facts and figures” showing the financial implications of the proposals.

Opposition peers called for the proposed legislation to be stopped from progressing further through Parliament until the findings of an economic impact assessment could be considered.

The Telegraph said Mr Sunak indicated he was open to using the Parliament Act to push through the Bill if needed. The rarely used law allows the Commons to overrule the Lords.

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