#hostile_architecture #architecture_hostile #dignité #espace #Portland #hostilité #hostilité_performative #infrastructure #extraterritorialité #extra-territorialité #prix #coût #histoire #esclavage #Bibby_Marine #Bibby_Line_Group (#BLG) #John_Bibby
Liverpool owner of asylum barge Bibby Stockholm awarded £20m to build new vessel
UK signs contract with US startup to identify migrants in small-boat crossings
The UK government has turned a US-based startup specialized in artificial intelligence as part of its pledge to stop small-boat crossings. Experts have already pointed out the legal and logistical challenges of the plan.
In a new effort to address the high number of Channel crossings, the UK Home Office is working with the US defense startup #Anduril, specialized in the use of artificial intelligence (AI).
A surveillance tower has already been installed at Dover, and other technologies might be rolled out with the onset of warmer temperatures and renewed attempts by migrants to reach the UK. Some experts already point out the risks and practical loopholes involved in using AI to identify migrants.
“This is obviously the next step of the illegal migration bill,” said Olivier Cahn, a researcher specialized in penal law.
“The goal is to retrieve images that were taken at sea and use AI to show they entered UK territory illegally even if people vanish into thin air upon arrival in the UK.”
The “illegal migration bill” was passed by the UK last month barring anyone from entering the country irregularly from filing an asylum claim and imposing a “legal duty” to remove them to a third country.
Who is behind Anduril?
Founded in 2017 by its CEO #Palmer_Luckey, Anduril is backed by #Peter_Thiel, a Silicon Valley investor and supporter of Donald Trump. The company has supplied autonomous surveillance technology to the US Department of Defense (DOD) to detect and track migrants trying to cross the US-Mexico border.
In 2021, the UK Ministry of Defence awarded Anduril with a £3.8-million contract to trial an advanced base defence system. Anduril eventually opened a branch in London where it states its mission: “combining the latest in artificial intelligence with commercial-of-the-shelf sensor technology (EO, IR, Radar, Lidar, UGS, sUAS) to enhance national security through automated detection, identification and tracking of objects of interest.”
According to Cahn, the advantage of Brexit is that the UK government is no longer required to submit to the General Data Protection Regulation (RGPDP), a component of data protection that also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas.
“Even so, the UK has data protection laws of its own which the government cannot breach. Where will the servers with the incoming data be kept? What are the rights of appeal for UK citizens whose data is being processed by the servers?”, he asked.
’Smugglers will provide migrants with balaclavas for an extra 15 euros’
Cahn also pointed out the technical difficulties of identifying migrants at sea. “The weather conditions are often not ideal, and many small-boat crossings happen at night. How will facial recognition technology operate in this context?”
The ability of migrants and smugglers to adapt is yet another factor. “People are going to cover their faces, and anyone would think the smugglers will respond by providing migrants with balaclavas for an extra 15 euros.”
If the UK has solicited the services of a US startup to detect and identify migrants, the reason may lie in AI’s principle of self-learning. “A machine accumulates data and recognizes what it has already seen. The US is a country with a significantly more racially and ethnically diverse population than the UK. Its artificial intelligence might contain data from populations which are more ethnically comparable to the populations that are crossing the Channel, like Somalia for example, thus facilitating the process of facial recognition.”
For Cahn, it is not capturing the images which will be the most difficult but the legal challenges that will arise out of their usage. “People are going to be identified and there are going to be errors. If a file exists, there needs to be the possibility for individuals to appear before justice and have access to a judge.”
A societal uproar
In a research paper titled “Refugee protection in the artificial intelligence Era”, Chatham House notes “the most common ethical and legal challenges associated with the use of AI in asylum and related border and immigration systems involve issues of opacity and unpredictability, the potential for bias and unlawful discrimination, and how such factors affect the ability of individuals to obtain a remedy in the event of erroneous or unfair decisions.”
For Cahn, the UK government’s usage of AI can only be used to justify and reinforce its hardline position against migrants. “For a government that doesn’t respect the Geneva Convention [whose core principle is non-refoulement, editor’s note] and which passed an illegal migration law, it is out of the question that migrants have entered the territory legally.”
Identifying migrants crossing the Channel is not going to be the hardest part for the UK government. Cahn imagines a societal backlash with, “the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom being solicited, refugees seeking remedies to legal decisions through lawyers and associations attacking”.
He added there would be due process concerning the storage of the data, with judges issuing disclosure orders. “There is going to be a whole series of questions which the government will have to elucidate. The rights of refugees are often used as a laboratory. If these technologies are ’successful’, they will soon be applied to the rest of the population."
#UK #Angleterre #migrations #asile #réfugiés #militarisation_des_frontières #frontières #start-up #complexe_militaro-industriel #IA #intelligence_artificielle #surveillance #technologie #channel #Manche
Huge barge set to house 500 asylum seekers arrives in the UK
A barge set to house 500 asylum seekers has arrived in the UK as the government struggles with efforts to move migrants out of hotels.
The Independent understands that people will not be transferred onto the Bibby Stockholm until July, following refurbishment to increase its capacity and safety checks.
The barge has been towed from its former berth in Italy to the port of Falmouth, in Cornwall.
It will remain there while works are carried out, before being moved onto its final destination in #Portland, Dorset.
The private operators of the port struck an agreement to host the barge with the Home Office without formal public consultation, angering the local council and residents.
Conservative MP Richard Drax previously told The Independent legal action was still being considered to stop the government’s plans for what he labelled a “quasi-prison”.
He accused ministers and Home Office officials of being “unable to answer” practical questions on how the barge will operate, such as how asylum seekers will be able to come and go safely through the port, what activities they will be provided with and how sufficient healthcare will be ensured.
“The question is how do we cope?” Mr Drax said. “Every organisation has its own raft of questions: ‘Where’s the money coming from? Who’s going to do what if this all happens?’ There are not sufficient answers, which is very worrying.”
The Independent previously revealed that asylum seekers will have less living space than an average parking bay on the Bibby Stockholm, which saw at least one person die and reports of rape and abuse on board when it was used by the Dutch government to detain migrants in the 2000s.
An official brochure released by owner Bibby Marine shows there are only 222 “single en-suite bedrooms” on board, meaning that at least two people must be crammed into every cabin for the government to achieve its aim of holding 500 people.
Dorset Council has said it still had “serious reservations about the appropriateness of Portland Port in this scenario and remains opposed to the proposals”.
The Conservative police and crime commissioner for Dorset is demanding extra government funding for the local force to “meet the extra policing needs that this project will entail”.
A multi-agency forum including representatives from national, regional and local public sector agencies has been looking at plans for the provision of health services, the safety and security of both asylum seekers and local residents and charity involvement.
Portland Port said it had been working with the Home Office and local agencies to ensure the safe arrival and operation of the Bibby Stockholm, and to minimise its impact locally.
The barge is part of a wider government push to move migrants out of hotels, which are currently housing more than 47,000 asylum seekers at a cost of £6m a day.
But the use of ships as accommodation was previously ruled out on cost grounds by the Treasury, when Rishi Sunak was chancellor, and the government has not confirmed how much it will be spending on the scheme.
Ministers have also identified several former military and government sites, including two defunct airbases and an empty prison, that they want to transform into asylum accommodation.
But a court battle with Braintree District Council over former RAF Wethersfield is ongoing, and legal action has also been threatened over similar plans for RAF Scampton in Lancashire.
Last month, a barrister representing home secretary Suella Braverman told the High Court that 56,000 people were expected to arrive on small boats in 2023 and that some could be made homeless if hotel places are not found.
A record backlog of asylum applications, driven by the increase in Channel crossings and a collapse in Home Office decision-making, mean the government is having to provide accommodation for longer while claims are considered.
‘Performative cruelty’ : the hostile architecture of the UK government’s migrant barge
The arrival of the Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port, in Dorset, on July 18 2023, marks a new low in the UK government’s hostile immigration environment. The vessel is set to accommodate over 500 asylum seekers. This, the Home Office argues, will benefit British taxpayers and local residents.
The barge, however, was immediately rejected by the local population and Dorset council. Several British charities and church groups have condemned the barge, and the illegal migration bill it accompanies, as “an affront to human dignity”.
Anti-immigration groups have also protested against the barge, with some adopting offensive language, referring to the asylum seekers who will be hosted there as “bargies”. Conservative MP for South Dorset Richard Drax has claimed that hosting migrants at sea would exacerbate tenfold the issues that have arisen in hotels to date, namely sexual assaults, children disappearing and local residents protesting.https://images.theconversation.com/files/539330/original/file-20230725-21-gqv26r.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=600&h=400&fit=crop&dpr=1#.jpg
My research shows that facilities built to house irregular migrants in Europe and beyond create a temporary infrastructure designed to be hostile. Governments thereby effectively make asylum seekers more displaceable while ignoring their everyday spatial and social needs.
The official brochure plans for the Bibby Stockholm show 222 single bedrooms over three stories, built around two small internal courtyards. It has now been retrofitted with bunk beds to host more than 500 single men – more than double the number it was designed to host.
Journalists Lizzie Dearden and Martha McHardy have shown this means the asylum seekers housed there – for up to nine months – will have “less living space than an average parking bay”. This stands in contravention of international standards of a minimum 4.5m² of covered living space per person in cold climates, where more time is spent indoors.https://images.theconversation.com/files/539304/original/file-20230725-22-emh9ho.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=600&h=400&fit=crop&dpr=1#.jpg
In an open letter, dated June 15 2023 and addressed to home secretary Suella Braverman, over 700 people and nearly 100 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) voiced concerns that this will only add to the trauma migrants have already experienced:
Housing people on a sea barge – which we argue is equal to a floating prison – is morally indefensible, and threatens to retraumatise a group of already vulnerable people.
Locals are concerned already overstretched services in Portland, including GP practices, will not be able to cope with further pressure. West Dorset MP Chris Lode has questioned whether the barge itself is safe “to cope with double the weight that it was designed to bear”. A caller to the LBC radio station, meanwhile, has voiced concerns over the vessel’s very narrow and low fire escape routes, saying: “What they [the government] are effectively doing here is creating a potential Grenfell on water, a floating coffin.”
Such fears are not unfounded. There have been several cases of fires destroying migrant camps in Europe, from the Grand-Synthe camp near Dunkirk in France, in 2017, to the 2020 fire at the Moria camp in Greece. The difficulty of escaping a vessel at sea could turn it into a death trap.
Research on migrant accommodation shows that being able to inhabit a place – even temporarily – and develop feelings of attachment and belonging, is crucial to a person’s wellbeing. Even amid ever tighter border controls, migrants in Europe, who can be described as “stuck on the move”, nonetheless still attempt to inhabit their temporary spaces and form such connections.
However, designs can hamper such efforts when they concentrate asylum seekers in inhospitable, cut-off spaces. In 2015, Berlin officials began temporarily housing refugees in the former Tempelhof airport, a noisy, alienating industrial space, lacking in privacy and disconnected from the city. Many people ended up staying there for the better part of a year.
French authorities, meanwhile, opened the Centre Humanitaire Paris-Nord in Paris in 2016, temporary migrant housing in a disused train depot. Nicknamed la Bulle (the bubble) for its bulbous inflatable covering, this facility was noisy and claustrophobic, lacking in basic comforts.
Like the barge in Portland Port, these facilities, placed in industrial sites, sit uncomfortably between hospitality and hostility. The barge will be fenced off, since the port is a secured zone, and access will be heavily restricted and controlled. The Home Office insists that the barge is not a floating prison, yet it is an unmistakably hostile space.https://images.theconversation.com/files/539308/original/file-20230725-28-sv0e7s.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=600&h=400&fit=crop&dpr=1#.jpg
Infrastructure for water and electricity will physically link the barge to shore. However, Dorset council has no jurisdiction at sea.
The commercial agreement on the barge was signed between the Home Office and Portland Port, not the council. Since the vessel is positioned below the mean low water mark, it did not require planning permission.
This makes the barge an island of sorts, where other rules apply, much like those islands in the Aegean sea and in the Pacific, on which Greece and Australia have respectively housed migrants.
I have shown how facilities are often designed in this way not to give displaced people any agency, but, on the contrary, to objectify them. They heighten the instability migrants face, keeping them detached from local communities and constantly on the move.
The government has presented the barge as a cheaper solution than the £6.8 million it is currently spending, daily, on housing asylum seekers in hotels. A recent report by two NGOs, Reclaim the Seas and One Life to Live, concludes, however, that it will save less than £10 a person a day. It could even prove more expensive than the hotel model.
Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK charity, has described the illegal migration bill as “performative cruelty”. Images of the barge which have flooded the news certainly meet that description too.
However threatening these images might be, though, they will not stop desperate people from attempting to come to the UK to seek safety. Rather than deterring asylum seekers, the Bibby Stockholm is potentially creating another hazard to them and to their hosting communities.
Point intéressant, lié à l’aménagement du territoire :
“Since the vessel is positioned below the mean low water mark, it did not require planning permission”
C’est un peu comme les #zones_frontalières qui ont été créées un peu partout en Europe (et pas que) pour que les Etats se débarassent des règles en vigueur (notamment le principe du non-refoulement). Voir cette métaliste, à laquelle j’ajoute aussi cet exemple :
voir aussi :
The circumstances at Portland Port are very different because where the barge is to be positioned is below the mean low water mark. This means that the barge is outside of our planning control and there is no requirement for planning permission from the council.
Bibby Line, shipowners
From Guide to the Records of Merseyside Maritime Museum, volume 1: Bibby Line. In 1807 John Bibby and John Highfield, Liverpool shipbrokers, began taking shares in ships, mainly Parkgate Dublin packets. By 1821 (the end of the partnership) they had vessels sailing to the Mediterranean and South America. In 1850 they expanded their Mediterranean and Black Sea interests by buying two steamers and by 1865 their fleet had increased to twenty three. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 severely affected their business and Frederick Leyland, their general manager, failed to persuade the family partners to diversify onto the Atlantic. Eventually, he bought them out in 1873. In 1889 the Bibby family revived its shipowning interests with a successful passenger cargo service to Burma. From 1893 it also began to carry British troops to overseas postings which remained a Bibby staple until 1962. The Burma service ended in 1971 and the company moved to new areas of shipowning including bulkers, gas tankers and accommodation barges. It still has its head office in Liverpool where most management records are held. The museum holds models of the Staffordshire (1929) and Oxfordshire (1955). For further details see the attached catalogue or contact The Archives Centre for a copy of the catalogue.
The earliest records within the collection, the ships’ logs at B/BIBBY/1/1/1 - 1/1/3 show company vessels travelling between Europe and South America carrying cargoes that would have been produced on plantations using the labour of enslaved peoples or used within plantation and slave based economies. For example the vessel Thomas (B/BIBBY/1/1/1) carries a cargo of iron hoops for barrels to Brazil in 1812. The Mary Bibby on a voyage in 1825-1826 loads a cargo of sugar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to carry to Rotterdam. The log (B/BIBBY/1/1/3) records the use of ’negroes’ to work with the ship’s carpenter while the vessel is in port.
In September 1980 the latest Bibby vessel to hold the name Derbyshire was lost with all hands in the South China Sea. This collection does not include records relating to that vessel or its sinking, apart from a copy ’Motor vessel ’Derbyshire’, 1976-80: in memoriam’ at reference B/BIBBY/3/2/1 (a copy is also available in The Archives Centre library collection at 340.DER). Information about the sinking and subsequent campaigning by the victims’ family can be found on the NML website and in the Life On Board gallery. The Archives Centre holds papers of Captain David Ramwell who assisted the Derbyshire Family Association at D/RAM and other smaller collections of related documents within the DX collection.
An Open Letter to #Bibby_Marine
Bibby Marine’s modern slavery statement says that one of the company’s values is to “do the right thing”, and that you “strongly support the eradication of slavery, as well as the eradication of servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking”. These are admirable words.
Meanwhile, your parent company’s website says that it is “family owned with a rich history”. Please will you clarify whether this rich history includes slaving voyages where ships were owned, and cargoes transported, by BLG’s founder John Bibby, six generations ago. The BLG website says that in 1807 (which is when slavery was abolished in Britain), “John Bibby began trading as a shipowner in Liverpool with his partner John Highfield”. John Bibby is listed as co-owner of three slaving ships, of which John Highfield co-owned two:
In 1805, the Harmonie (co-owned by #John_Bibby and three others, including John Highfield) left Liverpool for a voyage which carried 250 captives purchased in West Central Africa and St Helena, delivering them to Cumingsberg in 1806 (see the SlaveVoyages database using Voyage ID 81732).
In 1806, the Sally (co-owned by John Bibby and two others) left Liverpool for a voyage which transported 250 captives purchased in Bassa and delivered them to Barbados (see the SlaveVoyages database using Voyage ID 83481).
In 1806, the Eagle (co-owned by John Bibby and four others, including John Highfield) left Liverpool for a voyage which transported 237 captives purchased in Cameroon and delivered them to Kingston in 1807 (see the SlaveVoyages database using Voyage ID 81106).
The same and related claims were recently mentioned by Private Eye. They also appear in the story of Liverpool’s Calderstones Park [PDF] and on the website of National Museums Liverpool and in this blog post “Shenanigans in Shipping” (a detailed history of the BLG). They are also mentioned by Laurence Westgaph, a TV presenter specialising in Black British history and slavery and the author of Read The Signs: Street Names with a Connection to the Transatlantic Slave Trade and Abolition in Liverpool [PDF], published with the support of English Heritage, The City of Liverpool, Northwest Regional Development Agency, National Museums Liverpool and Liverpool Vision.
While of course your public pledges on slavery underline that there is no possibility of there being any link between the activities of John Bibby and John Highfield in the early 1800s and your activities in 2023, we do believe that it is in the public interest to raise this connection, and to ask for a public expression of your categorical renunciation of the reported slave trade activities of Mr Bibby and Mr Highfield.
Très peu d’info sur John Bibby sur wikipedia :
John Bibby (19 February 1775 – 17 July 1840) was the founder of the British Bibby Line shipping company. He was born in Eccleston, near Ormskirk, Lancashire. He was murdered on 17 July 1840 on his way home from dinner at a friend’s house in Kirkdale.
‘Floating Prisons’: The 200-year-old family #business behind the Bibby Stockholm
#Bibby_Line_Group_Limited is a UK company offering financial, marine and construction services to clients in at least 16 countries around the world. It recently made headlines after the government announced one of the firm’s vessels, Bibby Stockholm, would be used to accommodate asylum seekers on the Dorset coast.
In tandem with plans to house migrants at surplus military sites, the move was heralded by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Home Secretary Suella Braverman as a way of mitigating the £6m-a-day cost of hotel accommodation amid the massive ongoing backlog of asylum claims, as well as deterring refugees from making the dangerous channel crossing to the UK. Several protests have been organised against the project already, while over ninety migrants’ rights groups and hundreds of individual campaigners have signed an open letter to the Home Secretary calling for the plans to be scrapped, describing the barge as a “floating prison.”
Corporate Watch has researched into the Bibby Line Group’s operations and financial interests. We found that:
- The Bibby Stockholm vessel was previously used as a floating detention centre in the Netherlands, where undercover reporting revealed violence, sexual exploitation and poor sanitation.
– Bibby Line Group is more than 90% owned by members of the Bibby family, primarily through trusts. Its pre-tax profits for 2021 stood at almost £31m, which they upped to £35.5m by claiming generous tax credits and deferring a fair amount to the following year.
- Management aboard the vessel will be overseen by an Australian business travel services company, Corporate Travel Management, who have previously had aspersions cast over the financial health of their operations and the integrity of their business practices.
- Another beneficiary of the initiative is Langham Industries, a maritime and engineering company whose owners, the Langham family, have longstanding ties to right wing parties.
According to the Home Office, the Bibby Stockholm barge will be operational for at least 18 months, housing approximately 500 single adult men while their claims are processed, with “24/7 security in place on board, to minimise the disruption to local communities.” These measures appear to have been to dissuade opposition from the local Conservative council, who pushed for background checks on detainees and were reportedly even weighing legal action out of concern for a perceived threat of physical attacks from those housed onboard, as well as potential attacks from the far right against migrants held there.
Local campaigners have taken aim at the initiative, noting in the open letter:
“For many people seeking asylum arriving in the UK, the sea represents a site of significant trauma as they have been forced to cross it on one or more occasions. Housing people on a sea barge – which we argue is equal to a floating prison – is morally indefensible, and threatens to re-traumatise a group of already vulnerable people.”
Technically, migrants on the barge will be able to leave the site. However, in reality they will be under significant levels of surveillance and cordoned off behind fences in the high security port area.
If they leave, there is an expectation they will return by 11pm, and departure will be controlled by the authorities. According to the Home Office:
“In order to ensure that migrants come and go in an orderly manner with as little impact as possible, buses will be provided to take those accommodated on the vessel from the port to local drop off points”.
These drop off points are to be determined by the government, while being sited off the coast of Dorset means they will be isolated from centres of support and solidarity.
Meanwhile, the government’s new Illegal Migration Bill is designed to provide a legal justification for the automatic detention of refugees crossing the Channel. If it passes, there’s a chance this might set the stage for a change in regime on the Bibby Stockholm – from that of an “accommodation centre” to a full-blown migrant prison.
An initial release from the Home Office suggested the local voluntary sector would be engaged “to organise activities that keep occupied those being accommodated, potentially involved in local volunteering activity,” though they seemed to have changed the wording after critics said this would mean detainees could be effectively exploited for unpaid labour. It’s also been reported the vessel required modifications in order to increase capacity to the needed level, raising further concerns over cramped living conditions and a lack of privacy.
Bibby Line Group has prior form in border profiteering. From 1994 to 1998, the Bibby Stockholm was used to house the homeless, some of whom were asylum seekers, in Hamburg, Germany. In 2005, it was used to detain asylum seekers in the Netherlands, which proved a cause of controversy at the time. Undercover reporting revealed a number of cases abuse on board, such as beatings and sexual exploitation, as well suicide attempts, routine strip searches, scabies and the death of an Algerian man who failed to receive timely medical care for a deteriorating heart condition. As the undercover security guard wrote:
“The longer I work on the Bibby Stockholm, the more I worry about safety on the boat. Between exclusion and containment I encounter so many defects and feel so much tension among the prisoners that it no longer seems to be a question of whether things will get completely out of hand here, but when.”
He went on:
“I couldn’t stand the way prisoners were treated […] The staff become like that, because the whole culture there is like that. Inhuman. They do not see the residents as people with a history, but as numbers.”
Discussions were also held in August 2017 over the possibility of using the vessel as accommodation for some 400 students in Galway, Ireland, amid the country’s housing crisis. Though the idea was eventually dropped for lack of mooring space and planning permission requirements, local students had voiced safety concerns over the “bizarre” and “unconventional” solution to a lack of rental opportunities.
Corporate Travel Management & Langham Industries
Although leased from Bibby Line Group, management aboard the Bibby Stockholm itself will be handled by #Corporate_Travel_Management (#CTM), a global travel company specialising in business travel services. The Australian-headquartered company also recently received a £100m contract for the provision of accommodation, travel, venue and ancillary booking services for the housing of Ukrainian refugees at local hotels and aboard cruise ships M/S Victoria and M/S Ambition. The British Red Cross warned earlier in May against continuing to house refugees on ships with “isolated” and “windowless” cabins, and said the scheme had left many “living in limbo.”
Founded by CEO #Jamie_Pherous, CTM was targeted in 2018 by #VGI_Partners, a group of short-sellers, who identified more than 20 red flags concerning the company’s business interests. Most strikingly, the short-sellers said they’d attended CTM’s offices in Glasgow, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Switzerland. Finding no signs of business activity there, they said it was possible the firm had significantly overstated the scale of its operations. VGI Partners also claimed CTM’s cash flows didn’t seem to add up when set against the company’s reported growth, and that CTM hadn’t fully disclosed revisions they’d made to their annual revenue figures.
Two years later, the short-sellers released a follow-up report, questioning how CTM had managed to report a drop in rewards granted for high sales numbers to travel agencies, when in fact their transaction turnover had grown during the same period. They also accused CTM of dressing up their debt balance to make their accounts look healthier.
CTM denied VGI Partners’ allegations. In their response, they paraphrased a report by auditors EY, supposedly confirming there were no question marks over their business practices, though the report itself was never actually made public. They further claim VGI Partners, as short-sellers, had only released the reports in the hope of benefitting from uncertainty over CTM’s operations.
Despite these troubles, CTM’s market standing improved drastically earlier this year, when it was announced the firm had secured contracts for the provision of travel services to the UK Home Office worth in excess of $3bn AUD (£1.6bn). These have been accompanied by further tenders with, among others, the National Audit Office, HS2, Cafcass, Serious Fraud Office, Office of National Statistics, HM Revenue & Customs, National Health Service, Ministry of Justice, Department of Education, Foreign Office, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The Home Office has not released any figures on the cost of either leasing or management services aboard Bibby Stockholm, though press reports have put the estimated price tag at more than £20,000 a day for charter and berthing alone. If accurate, this would put the overall expenditure for the 18-month period in which the vessel will operate as a detention centre at almost £11m, exclusive of actual detention centre management costs such as security, food and healthcare.
Another beneficiary of the project are Portland Port’s owners, #Langham_Industries, a maritime and engineering company owned by the #Langham family. The family has long-running ties to right-wing parties. Langham Industries donated over £70,000 to the UK Independence Party from 2003 up until the 2016 Brexit referendum. In 2014, Langham Industries donated money to support the re-election campaign of former Clacton MP for UKIP Douglas Carswell, shortly after his defection from the Conservatives. #Catherine_Langham, a Tory parish councillor for Hilton in Dorset, has described herself as a Langham Industries director (although she is not listed on Companies House). In 2016 she was actively involved in local efforts to support the campaign to leave the European Union. The family holds a large estate in Dorset which it uses for its other line of business, winemaking.
At present, there is no publicly available information on who will be providing security services aboard the Bibby Stockholm.
Bibby Line Group describes itself as “one of the UK’s oldest family owned businesses,” operating in “multiple countries, employing around 1,300 colleagues, and managing over £1 billion of funds.” Its head office is registered in Liverpool, with other headquarters in Scotland, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Malaysia, France, Slovakia, Czechia, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Nigeria (see the appendix for more). The company’s primary sectors correspond to its three main UK subsidiaries:
– #Bibby_Financial_Services. A global provider of financial services. The firm provides loans to small- and medium-sized businesses engaged in business services, construction, manufacturing, transportation, export, recruitment and wholesale markets. This includes invoice financing, export and trade finance, and foreign exchanges. Overall, the subsidiary manages more than £6bn each year on behalf of some 9,000 clients across 300 different industry sectors, and in 2021 it brought in more than 50% of the group’s annual turnover.
- #Bibby_Marine_Limited. Owner and operator of the Bibby WaveMaster fleet, a group of vessels specialising in the transport and accommodation of workers employed at remote locations, such as offshore oil and gas sites in the North Sea. Sometimes, as in the case of Chevron’s Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) project in Nigeria, the vessels are used as an alternative to hotels owing to a “a volatile project environment.” The fleet consists of 40 accommodation vessels similar in size to the Bibby Stockholm and a smaller number of service vessels, though the share of annual turnover pales compared to the group’s financial services operations, standing at just under 10% for 2021.
- #Garic Ltd. Confined to construction, quarrying, airport, agriculture and transport sectors in the UK, the firm designs, manufactures and purchases plant equipment and machinery for sale or hire. Garic brought in around 14% of Bibby Line Group’s turnover in 2021.
Prior to February 2021, Bibby Line Group also owned #Costcutter_Supermarkets_Group, before it was sold to #Bestway_Wholesale to maintain liquidity amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In their report for that year, the company’s directors also suggested grant funding from #MarRI-UK, an organisation facilitating innovation in maritime technologies and systems, had been important in preserving the firm’s position during the crisis.
The Bibby Line Group’s story begins in 1807, when Lancashire-born shipowner John Bibby began trading out of Liverpool with partner John Highfield. By the time of his death in 1840, murdered while returning home from dinner with a friend in Kirkdale, Bibby had struck out on his own and come to manage a fleet of more than 18 ships. The mysterious case of his death has never been solved, and the business was left to his sons John and James.
Between 1891 and 1989, the company operated under the name #Bibby_Line_Limited. Its ships served as hospital and transport vessels during the First World War, as well as merchant cruisers, and the company’s entire fleet of 11 ships was requisitioned by the state in 1939.
By 1970, the company had tripled its overseas earnings, branching into ‘factoring’, or invoice financing (converting unpaid invoices into cash for immediate use via short-term loans) in the early 1980s, before this aspect of the business was eventually spun off into Bibby Financial Services. The group acquired Garic Ltd in 2008, which currently operates four sites across the UK.
#Jonathan_Lewis has served as Bibby Line Group’s Managing and Executive Director since January 2021, prior to which he acted as the company’s Chief Financial and Strategy Officer since joining in 2019. Previously, Lewis worked as CFO for Imagination Technologies, a tech company specialising in semiconductors, and as head of supermarket Tesco’s mergers and acquisitions team. He was also a member of McKinsey’s European corporate finance practice, as well as an investment banker at Lazard. During his first year at the helm of Bibby’s operations, he was paid £748,000. Assuming his role at the head of the group’s operations, he replaced Paul Drescher, CBE, then a board member of the UK International Chamber of Commerce and a former president of the Confederation of British Industry.
Bibby Line Group’s board also includes two immediate members of the Bibby family, Sir #Michael_James_Bibby, 3rd Bt. and his younger brother #Geoffrey_Bibby. Michael has acted as company chairman since 2020, before which he had occupied senior management roles in the company for 20 years. He also has external experience, including time at Unilever’s acquisitions, disposals and joint venture divisions, and now acts as president of the UK Chamber of Shipping, chairman of the Charities Trust, and chairman of the Institute of Family Business Research Foundation.https://corporatewatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/geoffrey_bibby-278x300.jpg https://corporatewatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/Michael-278x300.jpg
Geoffrey has served as a non-executive director of the company since 2015, having previously worked as a managing director of Vast Visibility Ltd, a digital marketing and technology company. In 2021, the Bibby brothers received salaries of £125,000 and £56,000 respectively.
The final member of the firm’s board is #David_Anderson, who has acted as non-executive director since 2012. A financier with 35 years experience in investment banking, he’s founder and CEO of EPL Advisory – which advises company boards on requirements and disclosure obligations of public markets – and chair of Creative Education Trust, a multi-academy trust comprising 17 schools. Anderson is also chairman at multinational ship broker Howe Robinson Partners, which recently auctioned off a superyacht seized from Dmitry Pumpyansky, after the sanctioned Russian businessman reneged on a €20.5m loan from JP Morgan. In 2021, Anderson’s salary stood at £55,000.
Bibby Line Group’s annual report and accounts for 2021 state that more than 90% of the company is owned by members of the Bibby family, primarily through family trusts. These ownership structures, effectively entities allowing people to benefit from assets without being their registered legal owners, have long attracted staunch criticism from transparency advocates given the obscurity they afford means they often feature extensively in corruption, money laundering and tax abuse schemes.
According to Companies House, the UK corporate registry, between 50% and 75% of Bibby Line Group’s shares and voting rights are owned by #Bibby_Family_Company_Limited, which also retains the right to appoint and remove members of the board. Directors of Bibby Family Company Limited include both the Bibby brothers, as well as a third sibling, #Peter_John_Bibby, who’s formally listed as the firm’s ‘ultimate beneficial owner’ (i.e. the person who ultimately profits from the company’s assets).
Other people with comparable shares in Bibby Family Company Limited are #Mark_Rupert_Feeny, #Philip_Charles_Okell, and Lady #Christine_Maud_Bibby. Feeny’s occupation is listed as solicitor, with other interests in real estate management and a position on the board of the University of Liverpool Pension Fund Trustees Limited. Okell meanwhile appears as director of Okell Money Management Limited, a wealth management firm, while Lady Bibby, Michael and Geoffrey’s mother, appears as “retired playground supervisor.”
Bibby Line Group runs an internal ‘Donate a Day’ volunteer program, enabling employees to take paid leave in order to “help causes they care about.” Specific charities colleagues have volunteered with, listed in the company’s Annual Review for 2021 to 2022, include:
- The Hive Youth Zone. An award-winning charity for young people with disabilities, based in the Wirral.
– The Whitechapel Centre. A leading homeless and housing charity in the Liverpool region, working with people sleeping rough, living in hostels, or struggling with their accommodation.
- Let’s Play Project. Another charity specialising in after-school and holiday activities for young people with additional needs in the Banbury area.
- Whitdale House. A care home for the elderly, based in Whitburn, West Lothian and run by the local council.
– DEBRA. An Irish charity set up in 1988 for individuals living with a rare, painful skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa, as well as their families.
– Reaching Out Homeless Outreach. A non-profit providing resources and support to the homeless in Ireland.
Various senior executives and associated actors at Bibby Line Group and its subsidiaries also have current and former ties to the following organisations:
- UK Chamber of Shipping
- Charities Trust
- Institute of Family Business Research Foundation
- Indefatigable Old Boys Association
- Howe Robinson Partners
- hibu Ltd
- EPL Advisory
- Creative Education Trust
- Capita Health and Wellbeing Limited
- The Ambassador Theatre Group Limited
– Pilkington Plc
– UK International Chamber of Commerce
– Confederation of British Industry
– Arkley Finance Limited (Weatherby’s Banking Group)
– FastMarkets Ltd, Multiple Sclerosis Society
– Early Music as Education
– Liverpool Pension Fund Trustees Limited
– Okell Money Management Limited
For the period ending 2021, Bibby Line Group’s total turnover stood at just under £260m, with a pre-tax profit of almost £31m – fairly healthy for a company providing maritime services during a global pandemic. Their post-tax profits in fact stood at £35.5m, an increase they would appear to have secured by claiming generous tax credits (£4.6m) and deferring a fair amount (£8.4m) to the following year.
Judging by their last available statement on the firm’s profitability, Bibby’s directors seem fairly confident the company has adequate financing and resources to continue operations for the foreseeable future. They stress their February 2021 sale of Costcutter was an important step in securing this, given it provided additional liquidity during the pandemic, as well as the funding secured for R&D on fuel consumption by Bibby Marine’s fleet.
Bibby Line Group and its subsidiaries have featured in a number of UK legal proceedings over the years, sometimes as defendants. One notable case is Godfrey v Bibby Line, a lawsuit brought against the company in 2019 after one of their former employees died as the result of an asbestos-related disease.
In their claim, the executors of Alan Peter Godfrey’s estate maintained that between 1965 and 1972, he was repeatedly exposed to large amounts of asbestos while working on board various Bibby vessels. Although the link between the material and fatal lung conditions was established as early as 1930, they claimed that Bibby Line, among other things:
“Failed to warn the deceased of the risk of contracting asbestos related disease or of the precautions to be taken in relation thereto;
“Failed to heed or act upon the expert evidence available to them as to the best means of protecting their workers from danger from asbestos dust; [and]
“Failed to take all reasonably practicable measures, either by securing adequate ventilation or by the provision and use of suitable respirators or otherwise, to prevent inhalation of dust.”
The lawsuit, which claimed “unlimited damage”’ against the group, also stated that Mr Godfrey’s “condition deteriorated rapidly with worsening pain and debility,” and that he was “completely dependent upon others for his needs by the last weeks of his life.” There is no publicly available information on how the matter was concluded.
In 2017, Bibby Line Limited also featured in a leak of more than 13.4 million financial records known as the Paradise Papers, specifically as a client of Appleby, which provided “offshore corporate services” such as legal and accountancy work. According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, a global network of investigative media outlets, leaked Appleby documents revealed, among other things, “the ties between Russia and [Trump’s] billionaire commerce secretary, the secret dealings of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser and the offshore interests of the Queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world.”
This would not appear to be the Bibby group’s only link to the shady world of offshore finance. Michael Bibby pops up as a treasurer for two shell companies registered in Panama, Minimar Transport S.A. and Vista Equities Inc.
Much about the Bibby Stockholm saga remains to be seen. The exact cost of the initiative and who will be providing security services on board, are open questions. What’s clear however is that activists will continue to oppose the plans, with efforts to prevent the vessel sailing from Falmouth to its final docking in Portland scheduled to take place on 30th June.
Appendix: Company Addresses
HQ and general inquiries: 3rd Floor Walker House, Exchange Flags, Liverpool, United Kingdom, L2 3YL
Tel: +44 (0) 151 708 8000
Other offices, as of 2021:
6, Shenton Way, #18-08A Oue Downtown 068809, Singapore
1/1, The Exchange Building, 142 St. Vincent Street, Glasgow, G2 5LA, United Kingdom
4th Floor Heather House, Heather Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland
Unit 2302, 23/F Jubilee Centre, 18 Fenwick Street, Wanchai, Hong Kong
Unit 508, Fifth Floor, Metropolis Mall, MG Road, Gurugram, Haryana, 122002 India
Suite 7E, Level 7, Menara Ansar, 65 Jalan Trus, 8000 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia
160 Avenue Jean Jaures, CS 90404, 69364 Lyon Cedex, France
Prievozská 4D, Block E, 13th Floor, Bratislava 821 09, Slovak Republic
Hlinky 118, Brno, 603 00, Czech Republic
Laan Van Diepenvoorde 5, 5582 LA, Waalre, Netherlands
Hansaallee 249, 40549 Düsseldorf, Germany
Poland Eurocentrum, Al. Jerozolimskie 134, 02-305 Warsaw, Poland
1/2 Atarbekova str, 350062, Krasnodar, Krasnodar
1 St Peter’s Square, Manchester, M2 3AE, United Kingdom
25 Adeyemo Alakija Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria
10 Anson Road, #09-17 International Plaza, 079903 Singapore
The Langham family seem quite happy to support right-wing political parties that are against immigration, while at the same time profiting handsomely from the misery of refugees who are forced to claim sanctuary here.
Family firm ’profiteering from misery’ by providing migrant barges donated £70k to #UKIP
The Langham family, owners of Langham Industries, is now set to profit from an 18-month contract with the Home Office to let the Bibby Stockholm berth at Portland, Dorset
A family firm that donated more than £70,000 to UKIP is “profiteering from misery” by hosting the Government’s controversial migrant barge. Langham Industries owns Portland Port, where the Bibby Stockholm is docked in a deal reported to be worth some £2.5million.
The Langham family owns luxurious properties and has links to high-profile politicians, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden. And we can reveal that their business made 19 donations to pro-Brexit party UKIP between 2003 and 2016.
Late founder John Langham was described as an “avid supporter” of UKIP in an obituary in 2017. Now his children, John, Jill and Justin – all directors of the family firm – are set to profit from an 18-month contract with the Home Office to let the Bibby Stockholm berth at Portland, Dorset.
While Portland Port refuses to reveal how much the Home Office is paying, its website cites berthing fees for a ship the size of the Bibby Stockholm at more than £4,000 a day. In 2011, Portland Port chairman John, 71, invested £3.7million in Grade II* listed country pile Steeple Manor at Wareham, Dorset. Dating to around 1600, it has a pond, tennis court and extensive gardens designed by the landscape architect Brenda Colvin.
The arrangement to host the “prison-like” barge for housing migrants has led some locals to blast the Langhams, who have owned the port since 1997. Portland mayor Carralyn Parkes, 61, said: “I don’t know how John Langham will sleep at night in his luxurious home, with his tennis court and his fluffy bed, when asylum seekers are sleeping in tiny beds on the barge.
“I went on the boat and measured the rooms with a tape measure. On average they are about 10ft by 12ft. The bunk bed mattresses are about 6ft long. If you’re taller than 6ft you’re stuffed. The Langham family need to have more humanity. They are only interested in making money. It’s shocking.”
‘This is a prison’: men tell of distressing conditions on Bibby Stockholm
Asylum seekers share fears about Dorset barge becoming even more crowded, saying they already ‘despair and wish for death’
Asylum seekers brought back to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Portland, Dorset, have said they are being treated in such a way that “we despair and wish for death”.
The Guardian spoke to two men in their first interview since their return to the barge on 19 October after the vessel lay empty for more than two months. The presence of deadly legionella bacteria was confirmed on board on 7 August, the same day the first group of asylum seekers arrived. The barge was evacuated four days later.
The new warning comes after it emerged that one asylum seeker attempted to kill himself and is in hospital after finding out he is due to be taken to the barge on Tuesday.
A man currently on the barge told the Guardian: “Government decisions are turning healthy and normal refugees into mental patients whom they then hand over to society. Here, many people were healthy and coping with OK spirits, but as a result of the dysfunctional strategies of the government, they have suffered – and continue to suffer – from various forms of serious mental distress. We are treated in such a way that we despair and wish for death.”
He said that although the asylum seekers were not detained on the barge and could leave to visit the nearby town, in practice, doing so was not easy.
He added: “In the barge, we have exactly the feeling of being in prison. It is true that they say that this is not a prison and you can go outside at any time, but you can only go to specific stops at certain times by bus, and this does not give me a good feeling.
“Even to use the fresh air, you have to go through the inspection every time and go to the small yard with high fences and go through the X-ray machine again. And this is not good for our health.
“In short, this is a prison whose prisoners are not criminals, they are people who have fled their country just to save their lives and have taken shelter here to live.”
The asylum seekers raised concerns about what conditions on the barge would be like if the Home Office did fill it with about 500 asylum seekers, as officials say is the plan. Those on board said it already felt quite full with about 70 people living there.
The second asylum seeker said: “The space inside the barge is very small. It feels crowded in the dining hall and the small entertainment room. It is absolutely clear to me that there will be chaos here soon.
“According to my estimate, as I look at the spaces around us, the capacity of this barge is maximum 120 people, including personnel and crew. The strategy of transferring refugees from hotels to barges or ships or military installations is bound to fail.
“The situation here on the barge is getting worse. Does the government have a plan for shipwrecked residents? Everyone here is going mad with anxiety. It is not just the barge that floats on the water, but the plans of the government that are radically adrift.”
Maddie Harris of the NGO Humans For Rights Network, which supports asylum seekers in hotels, said: “Home Office policies directly contribute to the significant deterioration of the wellbeing and mental health of so many asylum seekers in their ‘care’, with a dehumanising environment, violent anti-migrant rhetoric and isolated accommodations away from community and lacking in support.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Bibby Stockholm is part of the government’s pledge to reduce the use of expensive hotels and bring forward alternative accommodation options which provide a more cost-effective, sustainable and manageable system for the UK taxpayer and local communities.
“The health and welfare of asylum seekers remains the utmost priority. We work continually to ensure the needs and vulnerabilities of those residing in asylum accommodation are identified and considered, including those related to mental health and trauma.”
Nadia Whittome and Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Labour MPs for Nottingham East and Brighton Kemptown respectively, will travel to Portland on Monday to meet asylum seekers accommodated on the Bibby Stockholm barge and local community members.
The visit follows the home secretary, Suella Braverman, not approving a visit from the MPs to assess living conditions as they requested through parliamentary channels.
Vous connaissez la « #politique_du_rocher » ?
Mars 2023 :
En ce moment à Calais, les autorités déposent des dizaines de rochers près du canal pour en empêcher l’accès aux personnes exilées.
Reprendre place. Contre l’#architecture_du_mépris
Pourquoi avons-nous cette étrange impression que la ville ne nous appartient pas ? De n’être que de passage alors même que nous y résidons ? Quel est ce malaise que nous ressentons à la vue d’un #banc design segmenté en places individuelles, de #pics au rebord d’une vitrine, de #grillages et de caméras tous azimuts ? Ce sont autant de symptômes de #suspicion et de mépris de la ville à notre égard, autant de sensations de #dépossession. Loin d’être une chose inerte, l’espace urbain formé par les urbanistes et architectes est politique, vivant et signifiant. Il envoie des signaux de reconnaissance et de mépris à destination de ceux qui y vivent. C’est pourquoi il est plus que temps d’apprendre à décrypter le #langage_urbain pour pouvoir reprendre place en son sein et exiger de ceux qui la fabriquent, architectes et politiques en tête, qu’ils prennent en compte sa destination véritable : servir ses habitants.
“Anti-homeless” hostile architecture, a thread.
Toronto. These devices (left) keep homeless people from sleeping on the grates to avoid freezing to death (right).
« L’architecture du mépris a des effets sur nous tous »
Au fond, cette « #architecture du #mépris » a des effets sur nous tous, des effets complètement irrationnels : la #ville est moins accueillante, moins fonctionnelle, les marginaux ne peuvent pas squatter et les familles ne peuvent même pas se poser. Ce mobilier nous oblige à être dans le mouvement perpétuel et nous empêche de nous arrêter pour former un « nous » confiant, accueillant. Évidemment, ces choix urbains ne sont pas neutres : ils reflètent un modèle social fondé sur l’évitement des conflits et la maîtrise des débordements.
Le principe du contrôle peut s’entendre dans une logique autoritariste, mais n’est-il pas injustifiable politiquement ?
Vous touchez là un grand mystère ! C’est effectivement injustifiable, insoutenable pour quasiment tous les élus. Notamment, parce que ça ne sert aucune logique : ce type de mobilier ne va régler aucun problème de précarité ou d’isolement, et pourtant il est de plus en plus présent. J’ai récemment échangé avec le directeur de l’urbanisme de Strasbourg au sujet de la place d’Austerlitz, qui a été envahi par ce type d’équipements, et je lui ai demandé qui était responsable de ça. Il m’a répondu, sans doute sincèrement, qu’il ne savait pas. Il y a une forme de déresponsabilisation et d’effet de logique folle, où la décision n’est pas assignable à quelqu’un de précis. C’est très kafkaïen ! En investiguant, on peut réussir à trouver, dans le cas de décisions très localisées, s’il s’agit d’apports publics ou privés. Mais la plupart du temps, les responsables restent non identifiés. Le néolibéralisme produit parfois des effets injustifiables pour la démocratie, qu’il n’assume pas, ce qui pose des problèmes politiques insolubles.
Personne ne reconnait de résponsabilité dans ces choix, mais j’ai vu souvent que cet mobilier urbain hostile était un prérequis pour la conception. Est-ce que ca viens des écoles ou des concepteur·ices qui y pensent spontanément.
Il y a des villes qui font un choix opposé, elles sont rares
Vancouver et ca coute surement moins cher que l’architecture hostile à réalisé
Quelques réponses données par Jean-Pierre Garnier, sociologue urbaniste à propos du principe des #métropoles
et aussi à écouter sur les Amis d’Orwell
Jean-Pierre Garnier définit l’organisation de l’espace urbain à des fins sécuritaires, comme "l’intégration dans la conception des projets urbanistiques et architecturaux – devenue obligatoire depuis 1995 (loi Pasqua) – de dispositifs matériels visant à ’prévenir la malveillance’ et donc à assurer ’la tranquillité publique’”.
"Il s’agit, par le biais de l’aménagement urbain, de placer la ville sous haute surveillance et de pouvoir mieux contrôler les citadins pour les protéger contre... eux-mêmes. Dans une société qualifiée de ’vulnérable’ aux ’menaces’ que le système capitaliste ne cesse d’engendrer, ’l’ennemi’ est, en effet, de moins en moins définissable. Intérieur ou intérieur, réel ou virtuel, local ou global, il peut revêtir des visages multiples : le délinquant, ’l’incivil’, le mendiant, le zonard, l’étranger, le contestataire, le manifestant, l’insurgé, le subversif, le terroriste... Autant dire qu’il se fond dans la population au point de se confondre avec elle."
Et ici des initiatives de #résistance/#dénonciation :
J’ai peut-être oublié des liens, mais ça fait déjà une longue liste de #cruauté_humaine...
Toujours à Paris, des blocs de #pierres à #Porte_de_la_chapelle #La_Chapelle :
Place de la République à Paris :
Et à Paris, d’autres techniques anti-réfugiés et anti-sdf compilées par @sinehebdo : #couvertures #grilles #grillages #bennes :
Et sur les grillages aussi :
A Paris, il y a aussi les #cages_anti-SDF :
Liste initiée par @vanderling, dans laquelle il y a des exemples de bancs anti-sdf, mais aussi des initiatives pour les dénoncer, notamment dans le domaine de l’#art :