Dock asylum plan ‘had no local support’, says Peel Ports

Government abandons plans to house 1,000 asylum seekers in Birkenhead docklands after Peel Ports says there was ‘no conceivable scenario’ where it could happen. Tony McDonough reports

Cargo vessel Hav Zander
The accommodation vessel would have been located in Wirral docklands. Picture by HowardLiverpool


A plan to house 1,000 asylum seekers on an accommodation vessel in Wirral docklands has been abandoned by the Government.

Ministers had been considering plans to house migrants while their claims for asylum were processed by the Home Office. However, the plan was met with almost universal opposition locally with MPs and councils angry at a lack of consultation.

However, on Saturday afternoon the Government announced the plan had been shelved. This follows local port operator Peel Ports saying that, without the support of local agencies, the idea was a non-starter.

A spokesperson for Peel Ports told LBN: “Our position on providing a berth for a vessel accommodating asylum seekers remains unchanged.

“We have consistently said throughout the process that whilst we could provide the berth, it was dependent on the necessary support from the local agencies.

“Last week, we simply observed that we could not see any conceivable scenario where the local agencies are going to be able to provide the necessary support to make this solution work.

“Peel Ports remains committed to fulfilling its full statutory obligations to provide access to any vessel, provided it can do so safely and securely, and it has the available infrastructure.”

According to the Government, the vessel would have provided basic and functional accommodation, and healthcare provision, catering facilities. It added 24/7 security would be in place on board, to minimise the disruption to local communities.

Mick Whitley, Labour MP for Birkenhead, had called on ministers to treat asylum seekers “with respect – including by allowing them to seek paid work”.

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On Saturday he, along with other Wirral MPs Dame Angela Eagle and Alison McGovern welcomed the news the plan had been abandoned.

And Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “Glad that common sense has prevailed here. Our region is open to those fleeing for their lives but this was an unworkable and inhumane idea.

“If the Government put half as much effort into clearing the asylum backlog as these awful ideas we’d be in a very different situation.”

“The Home Office stated that the ongoing demands on the asylum system necessitate exploring a range of accommodation options.”

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