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First look inside controversial migrant barge - with gym, TV lounge and menu revealed for first time
21 July 2023, 15:22 | Updated: 21 July 2023, 19:05
Exclusive footage from LBC shows inside the controversial Bibby Stockholm set to house 500 migrants on the Isle of Portland.
The 93-metre long barge arrived at the docks in Dorset on Tuesday morning after completing its final journey from Falmouth to Portland.
New footage shows inside the accommodation vessel and what asylum seekers set to board the vessel later this month can expect on their three to nine months on board, according to the Home Office.
Ahead of its arrival, the government described the divisive new home for migrants as “basic and functional accommodation” and designed to “minimise the need to leave”.
Upon entrance, the barge has a reception and a security check-in.
The barge has 222 bedrooms. One bedroom offers a single-sized bunk bed, a desk with a chair, a small screen TV, a wardrobe and large window overlooking the rest of the dock.
Inside the bedroom is also an en-suite wet room, with a toilet, sink and mirror.
Elsewhere on the barge there appears to be a communal sitting room decked out with a number of cream coloured sofas and armchairs, two coffee tables and a TV at the front of the room.
There is a medical room full of healthcare facilities, as the government paid the local NHS to provide on-site medical facilities on the barge, which will treat around 24 patients a day and be run by an advanced nurse practitioner five days a week.
A sample menu for the canteen lists a variety of dishes available to those on board, some of the mains listed include: Chicken Peanut Butter, Fish Curry, Spaghetti Meatballs and Steak Sandwiches.
Breads, Spreads, Coffee, Tea, Milk, Water and Soup of the Day are all listed as foods available 24 hours to those on board.
The gym available shows only one power rack with a barbell and plates, two kettlebells, two sets of dumbbells and two treadmills.
The barge is also fit with a courtyard in the middle in the middle, which is planned to host activities such as netball and basketball.
There's also a multi-faith room and laundry facility.
Dorset council has been funded £377,000 (£3,500 per bed space) to fund English lessons and other activities on board.
The barge is expected to home some 500 migrants as the government strives to cut down on the cost of housing migrants in hotels and other accommodation - costing an estimated £6m a day, according to Gov.uk.
It follows the government’s controversial Rwanda relocation scheme and the Illegal Migration Bill, which was passed earlier this week.
But the plans to house migrants on the barge have faced backlash from a number of locals and human rights activists.
Protests take place in Dorset over Bibby Stockholm
A number of protesters appeared outside the barge on Friday.
The UN has criticised the Illegal Migration Bill, as they warned it “will have profound consequences for people in need of international protection”.
Downing Street has defended the use of barges to house migrants - insisting it is a cheaper alternative to accommodating them in hotels.
Rishi Sunak's official spokesman said: "I think it's right for the public as a whole that we move away from a situation where £6m a day of taxpayers' money is going towards housing these individuals in hotels.
"That's not a good use of money and obviously that puts unplanned pressure on local areas as well.
"We think it is better to open specific sites designed to house immigrants that come in, done in a more planned way.
"That's what we are seeking to do with the Bibby Stockholm and that's what we're seeking to do in other parts of the country - opening up sites to take the pressure off local areas and to reduce the cost."