The government could face a possible legal challenge over the fire safety of the Bibby Stockholm, the barge which it plans to accommodate asylum seekers on.
Lawyers representing the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) have written to Suella Braverman raising concerns over issues such as overcrowding and fire exit access on the barge.
The Home Secretary has said she is “confident the barge is safe.”
With a capacity of more than 500, the Government plan to use the Bibby Stockholm barge, together with former military bases, to accommodate asylum seekers and reduce the amount it is spending on hotel bills.
The first people were moved onto the barge at the start of this month, but were removed later after Legionella bacteria was detected.
The general secretary for the FBU, Matt Wrack said the union had moved towards legal action after weeks of trying to alert the government to its concerns.
The FBU has previously labelled the Bibby Stockholm a “potential death trap.”
In their letter to the Home Office, the union’s lawyers cited media reports which said the Bibby Stockholm had only 222 single-occupancy rooms, but that more beds had been placed in each in order to to increase the capacity to 506.
It also raised concerns about fire exit access, saying that one of the barge’s three fire exits was not operational because it was at the end of a gangway deemed too steep to be safe.
Last month, a source told the Times that fire safety checks on the vessel sparked concerns that it could become a “floating Grenfell.”
The government has turned down requests from the FBU to meet with Braverman to discuss its concerns, the BBC reports.
Speaking to the broadcaster’s Breakfast programme, the Home Secretary said she was “confident the barge is safe.”
“This barge has accommodated people in the past – asylum seekers, oil rig workers – and barges of this kind have been used to accommodate asylum seekers, for example in Scotland,” she added.
A spokesman for the Scottish government refuted this statement, saying: “No vessels have been used to accommodate people seeking asylum in Scotland.
“We have made clear to the Home Office that vessels are not suitable accommodation for people seeking asylum.”
The government has is facing a number of legal challenges over the Bibby Stockholm, including from refugee charities representing individual migrants and the Mayor of Portland, who believes the government has not secured the appropriate planning permission for the barge.