Two new barges housing up to 2,000 migrants and asylum seekers could be moored in the North East - a move slammed by politicians, who liken the vessels' conditions to the “Victorian era”.

The barges, acquired as part of the Governments ‘stop the boats’ manifesto pledge could see 1,000 migrants housed off the coast of Middlesbrough near the Teesport - as well on Tyneside near Newcastle. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak first spoke of the two new giant vessels in a conference on Monday (June 5) in Kent - and reports in the national press suggest one of the two could be moored on Teesside.

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MP for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham, has now written directly to Home Secretary suella braverman denouncing the plans, claiming North East authorities were assured they would not take on additional numbers of asylum seekers as services are “very stretched”.

He wrote: “I was pleased to hear that your Government had committed to ensuring that other regions would be expected to meet their requirements before the North East would house additional asylum seekers.

“It is incredibly disappointing then to hear in the press that Teesport is being proposed as a location for an accommodation barge despite such promises.”

The MP went on to say that he had discussed the proposals with leader of Stockton Borough Council, Bob Cook, who expressed concerns that and facility would be close in proximity to nitram and ammonia plants.

Because of this, Mr Cunningham said such a location would be "not an acceptable one in which to house people".

However, Conservative Redcar MP Jacob Young said local Labour politicians have tried to prevent the government from taking “robust action” to tackle illegal migration.

He added: “I think these barges are a better solution than spending taxpayers’ money on expensive hotels, but there are right places and wrong places for such barges.

“Redcar is the wrong place and I will not allow it to come here. However, given these local Labour MPs have voted against every bill to try stop the boats, maybe the barge should go in one of their constituencies.”

Alec Brown, Labour leader of Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, likened the barges as belonging to the Victorian era and said the authority had no knowledge of the plans.

The Northern Echo: An aerial view of the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Falmouth docks in Cornwall, to be moored in Dorset.An aerial view of the Bibby Stockholm accommodation barge at Falmouth docks in Cornwall, to be moored in Dorset. (Image: Matt Keeble/PA Wire)

He said: “We have received no communication from the Government that people seeking asylum are to be housed on floating vessels on the River Tees.

“Responsibility for asylum seekers sits with the Home Office, but we would expect to be informed of any plans which involved our borough, and we are currently seeking clarity following today’s report in the media.

“I am totally against the principal of housing people seeking asylum in this way – it is something more akin to Victorian times and as a society, we should have a more humane way of treating people while their asylum claims are assessed by the Home Office.”

The Northern Echo: Rishi Sunak on a boat off the coast on June 5.Rishi Sunak on a boat off the coast on June 5. (Image: PA)

The office of Conservative Mayor Ben Houchen also said it had had “no contact” from the Government regarding the barges.

A spokesperson said the first the Mayor’s office had heard of the rumours was through media reports as they surfaced online.

At the PM’s conference in Kent, Mr Sunak stated the barges, that will house up to 1,000 people each, is part of a plan to stop small boat crossings – a plan he claims is “starting to work”.

The Government's first barge of the scheme will moor off the coast of Dorset coast in two weeks’ time - but the Prime Minister failed to officially confirm where the two new barges will be docked.

Other contenders to host barges across the UK include Essex, Liverpool, Suffolk and the Royal London docks. 

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The Northern Echo: Rishi Sunak announcing the plans at the conference in Kent on June 5.Rishi Sunak announcing the plans at the conference in Kent on June 5. (Image: PA)

Mr Sunak has previously responded to critics by stating the housing is “fair and compassionate”, arguing that local hotels are being “taken over” to house illegal asylum seekers.

The Northern Echo contacted The Home Office who did not confirm or deny the plans for a barge on Teesside following the Prime Minister’s conference.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The pressure on the asylum system has continued to grow and requires us to look at a range of accommodation options which offer better value for the British taxpayer than expensive hotels. 

“This is why we continue to source new alternative sites and vessels to accommodate migrants, which are more manageable for communities, as our European neighbours are doing.”