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Campaigners and residents successfully stop the removal of 22 asylum-seekers to the Bibby Stockholm

CAMPAIGNERS and residents in the seaside town of Margate descended on a hotel to successfully stop the removal of 22 asylum-seekers to the infamous Bibby Stockholm barge. 

More than 100 people surrounded the Glenwood Hotel today afternoon after a coach and a police car were seen approaching the venue. 

The group then split into two, some focused on the hotel entrance while others blocked the coach parked nearby.

Many held posters reading “No human is illegal” and “Refugees welcome."

Around 2.30pm the Home Office temporarily rescinded the order from taking the men from the town in East Kent to the barge currently berthed at Portland port, Dorset.

“This is a great day for the Margate community against the inhumane Home Office,” said Margate’s Labour Mayor Rob Yates, who led the day’s non-violent protest.

The action was organised with under 24 hours’ notice, with residents holding an overnight vigil from a nearby cafe, allowing for constant monitoring of the hotel. 

“I’ve been working with these men since they first arrived in Margate in September,” the mayor added.

Mr Yates, who is also a local councillor, said that the men, who are mostly from Afghanistan, “volunteer at numerous community groups in Margate.”

One of the men listed to be sent to the Bibby Stockholm told the protesters: “We are absolutely fine because of you all.

“We are so grateful that you fought for us like that.”

An argument over the asylum-seekers’ removal had been boiling for weeks, with Mr Yates sending letters to the local Conservative MPs, Roger Gale and Craig Mackinlay, and unsuccessfully pleading with the Home Office. 

The Glenwood Hotel has been run by the Home Office as “contingency accommodation” for asylum-seekers since September last year. 

According to Mr Yates, migrants have been at the hotel “sleeping two strangers to a room,” while numerous issues have been reported about food and the state of the premises. 

South Thanet MP Mr Mackinlay has complained to the government about the use of the hotel as accommodation for asylum-seekers. 

Former immigration detainee turned local volunteer, Aram Rawf, told the Morning Star that “seeing people in our community come together was amazing.”

“I had my eyes in tears — [seeing the] residents of the hotel being saved like that, it really means a lot,” he added. 

“Very proud of Margate, very proud of our community.”

Bibby Stockholm, off Portland Port in Dorset, has been beset with problems ever since the government announced plans last year to house asylum-seekers there.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “Hotel accommodation, which currently costs £8 million a day, has always been intended as a temporary solution to ensure the Home Office meets the statutory obligation to accommodate asylum seekers who would otherwise be destitute during a period of unprecedented numbers of small boat arrivals.

"We continue to deliver our plans to significantly reduce the use of asylum hotels, closing 150 by the beginning of May."


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