The first asylum seekers have moved on to the Bibby Stockholm barge at Portland Port.

Buses took asylum seekers from hotels from Devon and Bournemouth through the dock gates today ahead of their move onto the barge.

The asylum seekers were greeted at the port gates by members of the group Stand Up to Racism Dorset who waved banners and lifted a cardboard cutout of a sign which said "Welcome".

At full capacity, the barge will house 506 single male asylum seekers. It is understood about 15 arrived on Monday.

Philip Marfleet, co-chairman of Stand up to Racism was at the port to welcome asylum seekers.

He said: "There are all sorts of basics that they need, particularly toiletries and the like, and we have also supplied them with information about how to get support locally.

"We are doing our very best to rally around refugees in the face of very hostile Government policy.

"There are some people locally with equally hostile agendas."

Mr Marfleet accused the Government of 'gambling with refugee lives' with regard to safety concerns on board. 

The Home Office has continuously defended its plans for the barge, reassuring that necessary checks have been carried out and promising to save the taxpayer money. 

Mayor of Portland Carralyn Parkes said: "I feel disappointed that in the twenty first century, our government are considering housing asylum seekers on a barge on Portland.

"There has been no consultation with stakeholders who would have to deliver on services.

"It is an outrage and a gimmick. 

"The best way we could move forward, is to use the money invested into gimmicks like this to put that into the asylum and immigration system, so people have humane and reasonable ways of being dealt with so their claims can be processed in a speedy fashion.

"These are ordinary people, they have thoughts, dreams and feelings just like everyone else. It is nice to see kindness in our community, that people have taken the time to make vulnerable people feel welcome."