A REPORT by stakeholders involved with the Bibby Stockholm barge has said the bus service for asylum seekers is "well used", despite concerns from residents about empty buses coming from Portland Port.

The group has released a new report on the Bibby Stockholm at Portland Port, in which it addressed concerns regarding the bus service, voluntary activities and community safety.

The multi-agency forum (MAF) is made up of representatives from the Home Office, Dorset Council, Portland Town Council, Weymouth Town Council, Dorset Police, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, NHS Dorset and the barge operators Landry & Kling and CTM.

The report said: "There have been a few enquiries about the use of the private bus service provided to residents of the barge. 

READ MORE: Portland barge buses run to Weymouth 'without passengers'

"These have ranged from concerns that barge residents are being discriminated against because the bus ‘segregates’ them from the local population, to concerns that the service discriminates against the wider community by providing a private service to the barge residents – and that the bus is often empty.

Dorset Echo: The bus from Portland Port arriving in WeymouthThe bus from Portland Port arriving in Weymouth (Image: Tom Lawrence)

"The bus service is funded by the Home Office, and such a service is provided at other large asylum accommodation sites around the country. 

"The bus provides an hourly shuttle service into Weymouth, throughout the day. 

"The bus service is required in order to limit any impact on the local community, and to allow barge residents to participate in a range of activities in the community, from volunteering, to sports, education, faith, and other activities. 

"The service is well used by the 300 barge residents, but inevitably, as with any public or private bus route, there are busier and quieter times – such as first thing in the morning and the last trip at night."

The MAF also gave an update about volunteering and community activities which some of the men are involved in.

The report said: "Lots of residents actively and regularly volunteer in the community. 

"Some want to give back to the community hosting them in their moment of need and develop skills that will help them find work and integrate into British way of life when their asylum is granted. 

"Many of the barge residents are already highly skilled professionals, and refugees often provide much needed skills (e.g., medical staff)."