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Migrants: Search for demeaning lodgings continues

Home Office Ministers have tasked their civil servants with finding suitable accommodation for the thousands of migrants arriving in small boats. In the case, suitable means depressing, demeaning and humiliating – while remaining, of course, legal. The logic is that migrants must have accommodation that is worse than that enjoyed by most voters. The accommodation must convince the electorate that every expense is being spared.

Accommodation on the floating barge, the Bibby Stockholm, does meet the current requirements, but it only has limited capacity. Discussions with P&O about hiring more ships have foundered as the government felt the company was paying its staff too much. So the search for alternative living quarters is underway.

Home Office staff have pitched a range of unpleasant options back to Ministers. These include a camping site in Grimsby that is downwind of a fish processing factory. The site has the required zero to one star TripAdvisor review and the facilities are described as ‘stubbornly adequate’. The main attraction for the politicians is the pong of fish, which is persistent and pervasive, and might encourage the migrants to return home.

Another option is for migrants to sleep on underused trains between 10pm and 6am. Hostel trains would trundle slowly back and forth between stations on the fringes of the rail network, such as the line between Hull and Scarborough. This proposal means that, as the migrants are always on the move, they will never achieve settled status and would certainly not get a settled night’s sleep. Ministers remain concerned that the tabloids will say that migrants are being funded to go on trips to the seaside.

A third option under consideration is to house migrants in a disused coal mine. ‘Out of sight, not out of mine,’ joked one official, who asked to be named. Residents would be allowed up to ground level once a fortnight, to send and receive texts and use a proper toilet. Staff are investigating if there is a human right to be able to see the sky.

Ministers have defended their proposals, saying that they have rejected the most extreme options. A campsite by the runway at Heathrow was ruled out as a risk to travellers. Accommodation at a nuclear waste dump was thought to have implications for national security, although it was nice and warm. And lodging migrants in portaloos on the central reservation of the A1(M) was found to be too expensive. You’d be surprised how much it costs to rent a portaloo.

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