Clashes over asylum seekers condemned by former Portsmouth North MP Syd Rapson

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A FORMER Portsmouth MP has condemned today’s scuffles between protest groups in the city centre.

Syd Rapson said clashes between left and right-wing activists over asylum seekers coming to the city should have been debated at this afternoon’s full council debate as an urgent matter that needed addressing.

It comes after the majority of the council in voted of pursuing a bid to close the door on asylum seekers coming to the city.

Mr Rapson, a former Labour MP for Portsmouth North, said: ‘It doesn’t reflect well on Portsmouth when you have got these groups causing chaos prior to a constructive debate in the council chamber.

‘The issue had to be discussed because at the last meeting, the vote did not reflect well on Portsmouth’s community.

‘By reopening the debate today, we would have allowed councillors to express their support for and against the leader’s actions.’

But Lib Dem councillor Darren Sanders said council rules stipulate an item discussed at the council can’t be reopened for debate can’t be reopened for six months, despite today’s chaos.

Cllr Sanders also said the council is awaiting the government’s decision whether to remove Portsmouth as a cluster area taking in asylum seekers.

Portsmouth councillor Paul Godier said: ‘This isn’t a dark day for our city. We have put our children, and lack of housing, and overcrowded schools first, so it’s a proud day for Portsmouth.’