OVER 200 people gathered outside Penally Training Camp yesterday (Tuesday) evening to stage a protest against the prospect of the facility being used to house asylum seekers.

Although the UK Government will not confirm that the Ministry of Defence site is one of those being used to accommodate the extra accommodation needed for refugees, MP Simon Hart stated on Monday that it is ‘under active consideration’.

Speculation is rife amongst protestors that the camp will be used very soon to house up to 250 men, who will not be restricted in their movements to and from the premises

Yesterday’s protest was monitored by police and at one stage saw protestors sitting down in the road.

It was organised by the Penally Camp Protest Facebook group, which now has 2,200 members.

Group spokesman Darren Edmundson told the Western Telegraph that the turn-out for the protest was ‘around to 200 to 250 people’, with ‘a couple of people’ protesting against them.

He added: “I am concerned for the safety of our family and our children, as we don’t know the background of the asylum seekers.

“It has been confirmed that (it) is just 250 men. Why not women and children as well?

“There was a lack of communication prior to the protest.

“We wanted to know the facts etc. It was so disappointing to not see the council or any MPs turn up to answer any questions.

“Simon Hart should have been there.”

Mr Edmundson continued: “We feel that the camp should have been used to benefit the community, especially the homeless of our community.

“Wales has struggled for homelessness for years.”

Penally’s county councillor, Jon Preston, has contacted Mr Hart asking him to call a socially-distanced public meeting to engage with concerned residents.

As the issue is a Home Office matter, he is urging Mr Hart to “take the lead on this rapidly-developing situation”.

He added: “I am, in effect, dealing with an incredibly emotive issue on your behalf.”

Supporters of the proposal are also calling for improved communication.

Commented Marc Tierney:”Refugees are welcome. The way this situation is being handled and the way local residents are being communicated with is not. There is no need for a protest which could be potentially hijacked as part of a wider campaign.

Mr Tierney, the former Labour parliamentary candidate for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, added: 

“There is need for genuine engagement by the UK Government and its political representatives locally.

“ Pembrokeshire welcomes people from wherever they come from. As a county, we have already helped a small handful of people who have fled conflict and war. We can do more, but the government must step forward and provide the adequate support needed to make it work.”