A LEGAL challenge brought against the Home Office by Portland Mayor Carralyn Parkes has added the Marine Management Organisation as a co-defendant alongside the Home Office.

Mrs Parkes has also written to Dorset Council, informing the authority she may add it as a co-defendant in the legal case too.

On August 7 2023, Carralyn Parkes put the government on notice of her intention to challenge the Home Secretary’s failure to obtain the necessary planning permission to use the Bibby Stockholm barge to accommodate asylum-seekers at Portland Port in Dorset.

Although Mrs Parkes is a Portland Town Councillor and Mayor of Portland, she is acting in her personal capacity as a private individual and local resident.

In her letter to the Home Secretary, sent via her legal team, Mrs Parkes laid out why she believes planning permission is required for the barge to be used to house asylum seekers.

The Home Secretary’s response to that letter was due by August 21, but none was received.

The Home Office has instead stated that it will respond on August 30; however, since the deadline has now passed, Mrs Parkes has replied that a response is now required immediately.

Further questions have now been raised around marine licensing for the barge, which is controlled by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO).

A marine licence is required to construct, alter or improve any works in the sea, over the sea, or under the sea bed.

Many coastal developments require both planning permission and a marine licence.

Mrs Parkes and her legal team argue the MMO would be expected to have granted a licence for the water-based aspects of the Bibby Stockholm’s use at Portland Port.

Mrs Parkes has also informed Dorset Council that if it continues to maintain that it has no power to enforce planning rules over the barge, she may alter her claim to include Dorset Council as a third co-defendant, along with the Home Office and the MMO.

Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, who are representing Mrs Parkes, said: "We urge the Home Office and Dorset Council to respond to our client’s letters and confirm their position and reasoning for their decision-making. Transparency is a key tenet of good governance.

"Those affected by authorities’ decision-making are entitled to know what decisions are being made and why."