Hundreds gather to protest against plans to house asylum seekers on barge

Hundreds of protestors gathered today. Credit: PA Images

Hundreds of people have been protesting in Portland today over plans to house asylum seekers on a barge, saying the plans are "inhumane" and would put extra pressure on community resources.

The group is calling on the government to rethink plans to use the Bibby Stockholm, which is currently being held in Falmouth, to house 500 migrants off the coast of Portland Port. 

The vessel, which has undergone an assessment and refurbishment, is expected to be put into position on Portland soon.

The Bibby Stockholm is expected to be moved into place in the coming weeks. Credit: PA Images

The barge is part of a series of schemes from the UK Government aimed at moving asylum seekers away from costly hotel accommodation.

Protesters say the plans are totally unsuitable for the area.

Organiser Alex Bailey said: "Well it comes down to resources that the community have. There isn't even enough for the people here.

"They struggle with the NHS, they struggle with dentistry, I know that the police aren't getting any extra funding for this.

"So I don't think this is the right place and many people within the community agree with that sentiment."

Councillor Paul Kimber from Portland Town Council says: "This whole decision has been thrust upon the community so the community now is trying to make the best of it.

"I have already had one local charity wanting to know what they can do to help some of the refugees when they come over here.

"So it's not all about 'we're against them' it's 'refugees are welcome', however, not on a barge - that's inhumane."

Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick MP defended the plans.

Speaking to ITV News, he said: "Well it's obviously in the national interest that we house migrants in lower cost accommodation which reduces the reliance on hotels which have such an impact on communities in terms of taking away valued business hotels, tourist hotels.

"The barge that will ultimately be in Portland is one that's been used by businesses and militaries around the world for housing their own nationals and workers so its a decent and appropriate form of accommodation."