Sadiq Khan has spoken out against the idea of people seeking asylum in the United Kingdom being accommodated in a barge based in the Royal Docks next to London City Airport following what City Hall says was an approach to the Royal Docks Management Authority (RoDMA) by the Home Office a few weeks ago.
In a statement, the Mayor says his administration was “recently made aware of Home Office proposals to use the Royal Docks as a location for a barge to accommodate people seeking asylum in the UK” and that he opposes them “in the strongest possible terms”.
He continued: “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 decision about whether such a proposal is accepted lies with the RoDMA, a limited company owned and funded by the owners of land surrounding the historic docks, which manages their waters and marine infrastructure. Its directors as listed by Companies House include representatives of the Greater London Authority, London City Airport and Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz.
On London understands that Newham Council and the Metropolitan Police are also opposed to an asylum barge being sited on the docks and that a forthcoming meeting of the RoDMA’s members will formally reject the idea. City Hall believes the Home Office lacks the powers to override the authority’s wishes.
Mayor Khan recently wrote to Home Secretary Suella Braverman urging her to reconsider what he termed “cruel and unworkable” measures in her Illegal Migration Bill, saying they could result in 50,000 asylum seekers being left in “immigration limbo” in the capital, unable to work and at risk of exploitation, and putting extra pressures on local authorities.
In his statement he repeats his criticisms and says that instead of the approach set out in the Bill “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”.
On London and its writers need your backing. Give £5 a month or £50 a year and receive in return the weekly newsletter On London Extra and (at no additional charge) invitations to events featuring eminent Londoners. Pay using any of the “donate” buttons on the site, by becoming a paid subscriber to my Substack, or directly into the company bank account. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Thanks, Dave Hill.