Anti-racism groups held a peaceful ‘Refugees Welcome’ demonstration on the steps of the Town Hall yesterday.

A number of speakers gave speeches promoting tolerance and defending refugees through a megaphone.

A planned opposition far-right ‘anti-immigrant’ march organised by demonstrators with known EDL connections attracted just eight people, who were invited to vacate the town by police following a dispersal order.

The group was also countered by the Merseyside Anti-Facist Network.

A heavy police presence around the Town Centre was visible throughout Saturday morning. Several officers stood watch over the Refugees Welcome meet, while officers could also be spotted guarding the Scarisbrick Hotel.

The ‘Refugees Welcome’ meet, organised by Laura Lunn-Bates, comes amidst growing tensions in the town over refugees being housed in the Scarisbrick Hotel in a contract managed by Serco.

Opponents to the presence of refugees in the town say homeless and veterans should be given preferential care, however the Council already guarantees housing to any individual free of serious drug issues or significant criminal convictions.

In support of local refugees, anyone who can provide the following by way of donation is asked to contact Southport Against Racism:

• smart phones (and chargers)
• small rucksacks
• joggers
• jeans
• trainers
• winter coats