Devon councillors abandon cruise ships for homeless idea

Councillors in Devon have rejected a proposal to use cruise liners as temporary accommodation for refugees and homeless people.

Several Torridge district councillors questioned the practicality of the idea.

A report said cruise ships could become unstable in shallow water, so dredging would be needed and a quay wall reinforcing.

The council’s Community and Resources Committee voted against the proposal.

Labour group leader Cllr David Brenton brought the suggestion to the council’s attention in December.

He cited the district’s desperation to find a home, even if only temporarily, for those in dire need, said the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

‘Step too far’

A report by council officers said cruise ships could become unstable in shallow water, so dredging would be needed to enable vessels to moor, and the quay wall at Appledore’s Middle Dock would need reinforcing.

Mr Brenton told the committee he had no intention of using big ships in the area, just vessels for up to 100 people.

But independent Councillor Claire Hodson said: “We need to focus on what we’re doing.

“We do not need to go chasing what might be. We have plans in progress to add to our housing supply.”

She added: “I commend Cllr Brenton for coming up with an idea, but we are a small authority.”

Conservative Councillor Simon Newton said it was a “step too far”.

“It also risks complicating a major project that we’ve now just got lined up funding-wise, and I don’t think we should be doing anything to try to complicate what is going to be a major project,” he said.

Mr Brenton was the only one at the meeting who voted against the decision to drop his idea, with eight councillors in favour of abandoning the ship.