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Revealed: Immigrants swell populations of British towns by 10pc

UK Daily Mail | May 03, 2007 
JAMES SLACK

The unprecedented influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe has swollen the population of British towns by up to ten per cent.

The impact of the new arrivals on small and medium-sized communities is revealed by secret Government figures, obtained by the Daily Mail.

In Boston, Lincolnshire, the number of Eastern Europeans who have registered to work in a town of only 57,000 is 5,479.

As our map reveals, other towns have seen their population increase by five per cent.

The incredible change happened in only 18 months, following the controversial expansion of the EU eastwards in May 2004.

Even these figures are likely to be a dramatic underestimate, as they do not include children or partners of those registered to work by the Home Office. Crucially, selfemployed workers such as plumbers are also missing from the list.

Council leaders said schools, hospitals and despite the valuable contribution being made by many of the new arrivals. Others complain of the wages of British workers being forced down.

Maggie Peberdy, manager of Boston Citizens Advice, said: "Landlords have been buying up terrace housing where traditionally families live and that creates tension because suddenly hordes of young people are crammed in.

"There are people coming and going all the time, vans arriving and rubbish all over the streets because they don't understand recycling."

Communities are taking extraordinary steps to absorb the newcomers.

Special schools are being opened at weekends to allow an estimated 25,000 Eastern European children catch up with British youngsters, and maintain ties with their own communities. And firemen are being given lessons in Polish to help tell migrants what to do in an emergency.

Our figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal the exact destinations of the 500,000 migrants who signed the Home Office's Worker Registration Scheme (WRS) between May 2004 and December 2006.

Ministers - who predicted between 5,000 and 13,000 new arrivals each year - had previously refused to reveal anything more than crude geographic locations.

Now, for the first time, residents can see the pressure their own local services are under.

Experts believe the true total nationwide is between 30 and 50 per cent higher than the 500,000 listed - which will make the full impact significantly more dramatic.

In Slough, council leaders say there have been at least 9,000 new arrivals - almost four times the 2,812 on the register.

Crewe says the real total is 6,000, compared with 2,620 on the WRS. And in Boston, council leaders say it is closer to 11,000.

Some 20,000 Bulgarians and Romanians, left out of the 2004 expansion of the EU, have also since been given permission to work here since January 1 this year.

In Southampton, which has 4,296 registered new arrivals, the wages of some British workers have fallen by half.

The daily rate of bricklayers has been slashed from £120 to £60, as they are undercut by migrants. The true number who have arrived is at least 14,000.

Nationwide, the population has grown by around one per cent as a result of Eastern European migration.

Lord Bruce-Lockhart, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: "The councils in these places are facing enormous pressures on schools, social care and then services right across the board.

"It is a lot for the communities to absorb."

By contrast, some regions have have had very few arrivals from Eastern Europe.

Across the entire North East, only 5,773 have registered with the Home Office - slightly more than in Boston alone.

Why Boston is booming

It was once a sleepy market town best known for its church tower, the Boston Stump.

Now Boston, Lincolnshire, is on the map as the biggest pocket of Eastern Europe in Britain.

Depending on who you believe, there are between 5,000 and 15,000 migrant workers in the town.

This means that at least one in ten of its population is now from overseas - and possibly even one in four.

Boston has a booming farming and supermarket packing industry and unemployment is just 1.6 per cent.

From 5am every day, young men and women wait for vans destined for the farmers' fields or the massive warehouses where they wash, grade and pack the produce.

Whilst the influx of workers has seen business boom, it has placed huge strain on services.

The Government predicted that only the young and single would come seasonally for work before returning to their native country, but the council has found that instead many migrant workers have stayed and brought their families.

The numbers applying for National Insurance numbers have risen dramatically.

In 2004, around 1,200 were applying a year, but last year the same number were applying every month.

According to a recent study, 21 per cent of the local population have a negative attitude towards the migrants and are concerned about social problems such as noise, driving without insurance and excessive drinking.

And three quarters said that no more migrant workers should be allowed into the UK.

The changing face of Crew

As a town which grew up around its railway station, Crewe is used to thousands of unfamiliar faces arriving each day.

But few of them made it on to the streets beyond the train platforms - until recently.

The Cheshire town is now home to thousands of migrant workers from Poland which have changed it beyond recognition.

Official figures state that 2,620 Eastern Europeans have registered to work in Crewe since 2004, but local estimates say the figure is at least double that amount.

Road signs around the town have been translated into Polish, tinned borscht flies off the shelves in specialist delicatessens and schoolchildren now chatter in an Eastern European accent.

Crewe's connections with Eastern Europe date back more than 60 years, when a refugee centre for Poles fleeing Hitler and Stalin was built in the town.

At the last census, in 2001, less than two per cent of Crewe's 48,000 population were of ethnic minority origin. But more than six per cent are now believed to be Polish.

Things began to change when Crewe's biggest recruitment firm, Advance Personnel, started to struggle to find local people for the low-wage, part-time factory jobs in the town.

They set up an office in Gdansk and scores of single Poles flocked to Crewe, living in cheap rented accommodation provided by the agency.

More recently, they have started bringing their families with them.

Christine Garbett, deputy head of St Mary's Catholic Primary School, had been expecting only a handful of Polish children in her classrooms but has accommodated 23.

She says: "The Polish children in the school have integrated well and have learned a lot of English."

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