Bibby Stockholm in Falmouth Docks, 2023

Court orders rolled-up hearing in Bibby Stockholm planning challenge against Dorset Council

The High Court has ordered that there will be a final hearing from 27-29 February 2024 in our client’s challenge to Dorset Council’s ongoing decision that it has no planning jurisdiction over the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland Harbour. This will be a “rolled-up” hearing, whereby the permission hearing and substantive hearing are combined into one. The hearing will take place at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Our client, Carralyn Parkes, is a long-time local resident in Portland and the Mayor of Portland. She is one of the 14 town councillors elected to the Portland Town Council representing the Underhill Ward where the Bibby Stockholm is berthed; however, she is bringing the proceedings in her personal capacity.

Our client remains extremely concerned regarding Dorset Council’s ongoing failure to take enforcement action against the Home Office which is enabling them to push ahead with plans to house approximately 500 asylum seekers on the barge in Portland Harbour, circumventing proper planning processes.

The consequences of this have become particularly stark in recent days following the tragic news on Tuesday 12 December 2023 of a suspected suicide of an asylum seeker onboard the barge.

Carralyn has said: “The death of a man on the Bibby Stockholm is inexpressibly tragic, and our community is shocked and saddened. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and all those affected by his sad loss.

 The Bibby Stockholm is wholly unsuitable as housing for asylum seekers. It was designed to accommodate up to 220 people for short periods whilst working, yet the Government intends to accommodate 506 asylum-seekers and 40 staff on board. I have spoken to many of the barge’s residents, and they describe it as overcrowded, claustrophobic, and more like a prison than a home. This is compounded by having to go through airport style security gates and open up their coats to be searched by guards with security wands every time they enter or leave the barge, which they find degrading and intimidating.

 I firmly believe that locating the Bibby Stockholm in Portland Port breaches planning regulations. I am more determined than ever, with the help of my legal team, to pursue Dorset Council to enforce planning law so that the Bibby Stockholm can be consigned to the dustbin of history.”

Carralyn Parkes is represented by Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, instructing Alex Goodman KC and Alex Shattock of Landmark Chambers, and Penelope Nevill and Fiona Petersen of Twenty Essex Chambers. Please see our news update of 16 October 2023 for full details of our client’s case against Dorset Council.

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