Wirral Council Leader, Councillor Paul Stuart, said:
“When the Home Office initially contacted Wirral council, they proposed a large vessel to accommodate 1,500 Single Adult Males (SAMs). However, the vessel had a capacity of up to 1,800.
“They had not even done their research. The vessel was too large for our docks. They then proposed two smaller vessels with the potential for even higher capacity. The idea that as many as 2,000 asylum seekers, people fleeing persecution and torture, would be marooned on barges, effectively prison ships, is immoral and inhumane.
“After 13 years of central government cuts, our residents are already struggling to access essential services; waiting lists to see a GP are over a month long, no access to dental care, and hospital waiting lists are at an all-time high. We do not have the resources to provide wrap-around support on this sort of scale.
“Wirral Council Officers, Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, our Health Partners and Peel Ports have engaged with the Government for several weeks, expressing concerns that this proposal was unworkable and dangerous.
“Now that Peel Ports have said no to the Government and the Government seems to have backtracked, I want to thank all those involved for their dedication and hard work. It is a testament to the commitment of all involved.
“However, the Government are yet to confirm if this “source” is correct. I will await the official announcement from the Government confirming they will not be imposing this on Wirral residents.
“Councils across the country, including ours, are willing to play their part in addressing this difficult national issue. Indeed, Wirral is already doing so. However, the Home Office is in utter disarray, and they know this knee-jerk policy is simply unworkable.”
Image: Cllr Paul Stuart, who represents Seacombe for Wirral Council. Credit: Wirral Council. Commissioned for use by LDR partners