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Peckham: Protesters block coach over asylum seeker transfer

Protesters and police have clashed during a protest in south London over the planned transfer of asylum seekers to the Bibby Stockholm barge in Dorset.

The police were called at about 08:40 BST to a hotel in Peckham where activists had surrounded a coach.

They were trying stop the asylum seekers’ removal to the barge.

Some activists were seen being dragged away from the coach. At about 15:00 it was driven away from the hotel, seemingly without any passengers.

The Met Police said “a number of people” were arrested for offences “including obstruction of the highway and one for a racially aggravated public order offence”.

A Home Office spokesperson described the protesters’ behaviour as “intimidatory and aggressive”.

They said: “As part of our commitment to significantly reducing the use of hotels, asylum seekers are being moved into alternative accommodation to reduce costs on the taxpayer. Accommodation is allocated to asylum seekers on a no-choice basis.”

The spokesperson said: “Asylum seekers can make representations if they believe they are unsuitable to be moved to the Bibby Stockholm. These are considered in full before any decision is made.”

Many of the protesters were sitting in the road, chanting.

They said that Bibby Stockholm was not a suitable place to house asylum seekers, and those due to be taken there had built relations in the community in Peckham and did not want to be moved.

The Home Office abandoned plans to move a group of asylum seekers to the Bibby barge in the wake of protests in Margate last week.

Home Secretary James Cleverly said in a post on X: “Housing migrants in hotels costs the British taxpayer millions of pounds every day.

“We will not allow this small group of students, posing for social media, to deter us from doing what is right for the British public.”