Mayor of Portland Carralyn Parkes has argued that the Home Office used the Bibby Stockholm barge to try and circumvent planning laws that would allow local consultation.

The Underhill town councillor has now formally issued a judicial review claim challenging Home Secretary Suella Braverman's use of the barge to accommodate asylum seekers at Portland Port without obtaining permission.

Dorset Council and Portland Port are listed as interested parties in the claim, meaning that they will have the opportunity to make submissions, file evidence and participate in the case.

Mrs Parkes, who is acting in her personal capacity as a private individual and local resident, argues that the Home Office's use of the barge as asylum accommodation can be considered a 'development' under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, and therefore may be a breach of planning control.

Her claim argues that the Home Office is attempting the ‘technical wheeze’ of using a boat as asylum accommodation in order to circumvent normal planning rules, which would apply if the barge was instead installed on land.

As a result, local residents’ ability to raise objections to the barge and its use in Portland has been hampered.

It also places the barge outside the reach of protections such as overcrowding legislation.

Mrs Parkes also argues that the Home Office has not complied with its environmental impact assessment duties.

An inadequate appraisal was only conducted after asylum seekers had been moved onto the barge, and several months after the Home Office had declared its intention of using the barge to house asylum seekers.

The assessment fails to consider the impact of long-term use, required as the Home Office’s proposal leaves open the option to use the longer than the initial 18-month period.

Ms Parkes argues it fails to consider impacts on human health, and is based on several assumptions, including that rooms will not be shared, and that overcrowding legislation would apply.

The claim also argues that the Home Office has not complied with its Public Sector Equality Duty under the Equality Act 2010, which includes a "duty to foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic (such as race), and those who do not".

It is argued that the Equality Impact Assessment, conducted only days before asylum seekers moved on board, is "woefully inadequate" as it fails to consider the impact of the barge in "radicalising far-right extremism" or the equality impact of segregating rather than integrating asylum seekers.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The number of people arriving in the UK who require accommodation has reached record levels and has put our asylum system under incredible strain with hotel accommodation costing more than £6 million a day.

“The Home Office is committed to making every effort to reduce hotel use and limit the burden on the taxpayer. This is why we have been looking at a range of alternative accommodation sites, including vessels which have been used safely and successfully by Scottish and Dutch Governments, and former military sites.”