Hundreds attend asylum seeker hotel protest and counter demonstation
Hundreds of protestors with conflicting views over asylum seekers staying in UK hotels filled the streets of two English seaside towns on Saturday.
In Newquay, Cornwall, around 100 people holding signs saying “refugees welcome” were faced by opposing marchers – with one holding up a sign saying: “You are anti-white racists”.
Meanwhile, in Skegness, Lincolnshire, a rally of about 200 people brandished signs saying “No more refugees” and chanted: “We want our country back”.
Patriotic Alternative, designated as a far-right group by anti-racist campaigners Hope Not Hate, led a demonstration in Skegness near to a hotel used to house asylum seekers.
People clutched a Patriotic Alternative banner emblazoned with “stop the invasion we will not be replaced” and “you stay, migrants pay”.
Anti-fascist campaign group, Hope not Hate, said that “far-right groups are trying to stir up tensions in local communities to further their own agendas”.
Jacob Morris, 22, a Patriotic Alternative supporter from Lincoln who was at the Skegness rally, said he was protesting against the council’s decision to “put migrants across the Channel” in hotels that are “costing the British taxpayers millions,” also claiming “a lot of these aren’t genuine asylum applications.”
75 per cent of asylum claims were granted protection at the initial decision stage, according to government statistics for 2022. Asylum seekers only make up a very small proportion of the number of immigrants in the UK, at 6 per cent of the total.
Mr Morris added: “Ukrainians are one thing but a lot of these people crossing the Channel are certainly not Ukrainians, there’s been reports in the press a lot are from Albania and elsewhere.”
When asked if the group is racist, he said: “It’s not racist to stand up for your own people, that’s all I can say. We advocate for the white British people.”
Mark Collet, Laura Towler, Joe Marsh, Wesley Russell and Sam Melia, who all claimed to be senior members of the group, were spotted at the rally.
Lincolnshire Police said there were “no arrests or reported incidents” at the “Enough is Enough” demonstration in Skegness and the crowd “dispersed peacefully” when it finished.
Superintendent Pat Coates said: “We have a duty to uphold the right to lawful protest, which is a fundamental part of our democracy, and Lincolnshire Police facilitated that right today.
“During the day, our officers engaged with protesters, members of the local community, and visitors to the town while they were on patrol to help ease concerns and diffuse tensions.”
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesperson said “officers were engaging with those in attendance to ensure everyone’s safety and facilitate peaceful protest” and no arrests were made.
In a statement, Rosie Carter, director of policy at anti-fascist campaign group Hope not Hate, said: “Far-right groups are trying to stir up tensions in local communities to further their own agendas.
“Hope not hate have seen a 102 per cent increase in far right, anti-migrant activity in the last year.
“This huge increase in far-right, anti-migrant activity doesn’t exist in a vacuum.
“It’s incumbent on the government to end their inflammatory use of language that feeds and enables the far-right, put safeguards around hotels in place, and look again at their policies that have led to this dangerous situation in the first place.”