In a recent development, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has expressed his strong opposition to a proposal to accommodate asylum seekers on a barge located in London’s Royal Docks. That happens to be in close proximity to City Airport and his own office.
The Home Office approached the Royal Docks Management Authority (RoDMA) several weeks ago. Regarding the possibility of mooring a barge near the airport. City Hall, along with other local organizations such as Newham Council, has representatives within RoDMA.
Mr Khan voiced his concerns, stating, “I oppose these plans in the strongest possible terms.” He emphasized that such a proposal would leave vulnerable individuals without access to the necessary support they require. Khan also criticized the government’s overall approach to asylum seekers. Deeming it both cruel and unworkable, particularly considering the forthcoming Illegal Migration Bill.
Rather than implementing such plans, the mayor asserted that councils. Moreover, relevant partners should retain the legal powers and funding required to support asylum seekers with dignity and humanity. He emphasized the collective responsibility to aid those fleeing oppression and violence and urged ministers to urgently reconsider their strategies.
RoDMA is expected to formally declare its opposition to the proposal soon.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed that the government had acquired two large barges to accommodate approximately 1,000 individuals seeking refuge in the UK. However, the specific locations for these barges have yet to be disclosed. Additionally, a third barge is already planned to be stationed off the coast of Dorset, near Portland.
A Home Office spokesperson declined to comment directly on the Royal Docks proposal. However, they highlighted the increasing pressure on the asylum system, necessitating the exploration of alternative accommodation options that offer better value to taxpayers than expensive hotels. The spokesperson acknowledged the concerns of local communities and pledged to work closely with councils and key partners to address any potential impact, including liaising with local police to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place.