A REPORT by stakeholders involved with the Bibby Stockholm barge has denied claims that the contract for the barge has been extended but said the Home Office is "looking at options" for a lease extension.

The group has released a new report on the Bibby Stockholm at Portland Port, in which it addressed concerns regarding misinformation, community safety and a positive PR campaign

The multi-agency forum (MAF) is made up of representatives from the Home Office, Dorset Council, Portland Town Council, Weymouth Town Council, Dorset Police, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, NHS Dorset and the barge operators Landry & Kling and CTM.

The report aimed to provide clarity on "misinformation and rumours" surrounding the barge, including rumours that the contract had been extended and that asylum seekers were being accommodated at Maritime House on Portland.

The MAF also provided an update on community safety, saying that there are "often rumours whenever a crime is committed, alleging barge residents are involved".

The report added: "This can quickly escalate on social media. The Dorset Police news website provides updates on many incidents across the Dorset area, if you require any further information, please use this resource.

"Any issues are raised at CIG and discussed with a recent example of complaints of litter being left at a bus stop, education was provided by the barge staff and the residents returned to the site and cleaned the area."

The report said: "There have recently been rumours circulating that asylum seekers are being accommodated at Maritime House on Portland.

"The Home Office is not using any other accommodation in the area to house asylum seekers.

"There have also been reports about the lease of the Bibby Stockholm being extended until February 2026.

"No decision has yet been made on the future use of the Bibby Stockholm.

"The Home Office will continue to engage and work collaboratively with Dorset Council, Portland Port and Dorset Police to look at options for lease extension after January 2025."

The MAF also announced they are running a positive PR campaign to showcase "the best that Weymouth and Portland has to offer".

The report added: "By running this campaign, in addition to the great work that Visit Dorset already does, we plan to dispel some of the misinformed negativity that has been seen across media and social media which has sought to make the erroneous suggestion that the barge is impacting tourism."

"Cruise ships continue to arrive regularly into Portland and the presence of the barge has not caused any local disruption to these visits."