Plans for asylum seeker barge near Sadiq Khan's office at London's Royal Docks are sunk

8 June 2023, 08:04 | Updated: 8 June 2023, 11:49

Henry Riley reports Royal Docks barges are not going ahead

By Asher McShane

Asylum seekers will not be housed in a barge at London’s Royal Docks, it has been confirmed.

Officials from the Royal Docks confirmed to LBC today that the plans were not feasible.

Scott Derben, from the Managing Director Royal Docks Management Authority (RoDMA) said: "London’s Royal Docks were approached by the Home Office to look at the feasibility of berthing a cruise ship to house asylum seekers. 

"After investigation, it was concluded that this would not be an appropriate use for the Royal Docks. The Home Office were informed of this decision in May."

It comes after the Mayor of London said he was opposed to the plans “in the strongest possible terms,” saying it would leave “vulnerable people” without “access to the support they need.”

Mr Khan said his office had been "recently made aware of Home Office proposals to use the Royal Docks".

However the Home Office told LBC that "Sadiq Khan should get on with looking after Londoners, rather than troublemaking. There are no plans for a barge at the Royal Docks.”

Plans are being considered to put a migrant barge in the Royal Docks
Plans are being considered to put a migrant barge in the Royal Docks. Picture: Alamy

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Mr Khan said: “I oppose these plans in the strongest possible terms.

““I am proud of London’s history of providing sanctuary for those seeking refuge, and I am concerned that vulnerable people fleeing appalling circumstances would not have access to the support they need, with their safety, health and wellbeing being put at serious risk.

“The Government’s approach to asylum seekers is cruel and unworkable, and will be made worse by the Illegal Migration Bill”.

The Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Falmouth docks in Cornwall
The Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Falmouth docks in Cornwall. Picture: Alamy

“Instead councils and relevant partners need to retain the legal powers and the funding to support asylum seekers humanely and with dignity.

“We all have a responsibility to help those escaping oppression and violence, and ministers need to completely rethink their plans as a matter of urgency.”

Local residents told LBC’s reporter Henry Riley they weren’t in support of the idea.

“I don’t mind them being close to where I live, I just think they should have better accommodation than a barge.”

While another raised concerns about what migrants would do in the area, “I wonder what they’re going to do all day around here, if they came here and they were all given jobs it would be amazing, but if they’re just going to sit on a barge and wander the streets it’s cruel to them."

A Home Office spokesman said: "The pressure on the asylum system has continued to grow and requires us to look at a range of accommodation options which offer better value for the British taxpayer than expensive hotels.

"This is why we continue to source new alternative sites and vessels to accommodate migrants, which are more manageable for communities, as our European neighbours are doing.

"We understand the concerns of local communities and will work closely with councils and key partners to manage the impact of using these sites, including liaising with local police to make sure appropriate arrangements are in place."