The Mayor of Portland has criticised the planned use of the Bibby Stockholm barge to house asylum seekers as “cruel” and raised concerns about the impact on local infrastructure.

Carralyn Parkes said she believed the services in the area would not be suitable to provide the support required to the “vulnerable and traumatised” migrants who could be moved to the giant barge located at the private port on the Dorset island.

She told the PA news agency: “The first concern is for local infrastructure, we do not have a hospital, we do not have a minor injuries unit, one dentist, one GP surgery to cover the whole of the island which has 13,500 people, one road on and one road off.

“Our infrastructure is bursting at the seams with the current demands and it doesn’t have the capacity to deal with people who are very vulnerable with complex problems.”

She added: “The second concern is the humanitarian thing. I do not believe, and neither does our council believe, that asylum seekers should be housed on a barge.

“The accommodation is wholly unsuitable. Human beings should be cared for in communities and certainly not on barges.

“It’s about humanity, it’s heartbreaking to think our government in the 21st century is using this cruel and unusual way of treating vulnerable, traumatised people.

“And the fact that it is all men, it’s shocking because it’s almost like you can do terrible things to men but not to women and children.”

Cllr Parkes said that having visited the barge, she had concerns about overcrowding and fire safety.

She said: “It is very small, it is going to be accommodating more than double the number of people the barge was built to carry and there are all kinds of questions about fire safety and safety certificates.

“When I visited the barge, walking next to a man, as we went along the corridor, a door had a handle that stuck out and I caught my arm on it and got quite a nasty bruise.

“Imagine if you have a panic situation, people are trying to escape a fire, I don’t know whether they would have the capacity to deal with that.”

Cllr Parkes said there had been no consultation by the Government with her council or Dorset Council and added: “The only discussion was between the port and the Home Office and we found out subsequently those discussions were going on for four months before they actually announced the decision.”