Sunday, 10 May 2015



OVER THE LAST TWO DECADES, one of Wisbech's most ardent campaigners has been Victoria Gillick. She came to  nationwide attention when she challenged the rights of doctors to give confidential contraceptive advice to teenage girls without bringing parents into the loop.
She spoke at the controversial public meeting over immigration a couple of years ago. Now she has painstakingly compiled a report on how she sees immigration affecting Wisbech and the surrounding area. The information and statistics contained in the report are, she says, all via Freedom of Information requests. She has asked me to host the report on this blog, and I am happy to do so, but I make no claim over the accuracy of the statistics, and I neither endorse or refute her personal conclusions. The report is long and detailed, so it will be published in sections over the next week or so. I have put statistical information in blue font. The remainder are Mrs Gillick's own views. YOUR VIEWS ARE WELCOME, both for and against, and you can make them known via the contact form at the bottom of the blog, or via Twitter - https://twitter.com/wisbechevenmore

PART ONE OF THE FOILING CABINET REPORT

DATA ACQUIRED THROUGH
              FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUESTS  
                  
 What's going on in Fenland?
Impoverishment
Very flat, the Fens. Sea-bed flat in fact, being the drained and reclaimed marshland encircling the southern and eastern sides of the Wash. Transformed over the centuries into super-fertile farmland, the Fens stretch in a wide arc from the Norfolk port of King's Lynn, southwards to Cambridge, across to Peterborough and up to Boston in Lincolnshire. The district known as Fenland lies in the north-west corner of Cambridgeshire, abutting Norfolk and Lincolnshire and encompassing twenty-nine villages and the four market towns of Wisbech, March, Chatteris and Whittlesey.                                                                                                  
So much for the geography. This Bulletin, however, is about Fenland's history: its recent, troubling history, which truth to say, differs only in scale to what's been happening all over the country: Government engendered, business orientated, taxpayer funded impoverishment.
Fenland's troubles began, as so many untoward outcomes have begun, with the European Union   stipulating unfettered movement of peoples between Member States. Our government eagerly complied and our public authorities obligingly cooperated. At the receiving end.....Joe Public, ignored, neglected and vilified. We shall therefore start with a brief look at the impact on Fenland as a whole, followed by a more detailed scrutiny of one of its market towns: Wisbech.
      
                                       CONTENTS                                                     Page

                                       FENLAND
Demographic trends 1981-2001 ............................ 2
East European immigration ................................... 3
  'Migrant Population Strategy' 2007....................... 4/5
  'Migration Impacts Fund' ...................................... 5/6
The migrants' home countries ..............................  6
                                     
                                       WISBECH
Background ............................................................ 7
Population & age structure ..................................... 8
                                      Local  numbers ....................................................... 9
School population.................................................. 10
 Healthcare (GPs and Hospital) .............................. 11
Accommodation  ................................................... 12
Social Housing ...................................................... 12
Wages .................................................................... 13
Unemployment .....................................................  14
Alcohol .................................................................  15
Crime ....................................................................  16
                                      Costing the UK & the County ............................... 17
Costing the District ................................................ 18
Impoverishing Wisbech ..........................................19
                                      References
2.
FENLAND

Fenland grows and prepares food for the nation, its farms and food-processing factories always needing extra horny-handed workers during the hectic harvest months. Hiring additional seasonal labour, whether local people, students, traveller families or foreigners on work permits, has thus been part and parcel of Fenland's yearly cycle for generations.
Between 1981-2001 Fenland's indigenous population swelled by over sixteen thousand souls, rising from 67,175 to 83,549.1  During those twenty years, however, the age structure in the area had seen a decline in the number of younger people, and a corresponding increase in older ones:
    1981-2001
*  Under-20s decreased ...... 28.0 - 24%
*  20-29s decreased.............12.4 - 10.3%
*  30-39s rose..................... 13.8 - 14.6% 
*  40-59s rose..................... 23.8  - 26.7%
*  Over-60s rose................. 22.0 - 24.5%,   
                                                          

DEMOGRAPHIC TRENDS


This demographic change was not unique to Fenland, but was part of a national trend consequent on low birth rates in the 1970s and '80s. To maintain stable population growth a country needs a birth rate of 2.1 children. The post-war baby-boom of 1946-47 had a rate of around 2.4 children which led to another, smaller, baby-bulge twenty years later. Parliament, persuaded by birth control lobbyists that Britain was on the brink of a catastrophic population explosion, sought to head-off the disaster by legalising abortion in 1967 and making contraception available on the NHS  in 1973. The upshot was a mega Baby-Bust as annual birth rates plummeted to 1.7 children, the lowest level ever recorded in Britain.2  By 1984 the number of children aged 0-15 was almost two million fewer than in 1971, resulting in thousands of school closures during the following decade.
In 1988 government advisers alerted the business world to the stark fact that by 1995 the number of 18-21 year-olds would have fallen by 1.2 million.3 Most employers nevertheless ignored the warnings, preferring instead to blame their labour problems on young people themselves, publicly lambasting "the youth of today" as lazy, incompetent, work-shy slackers.  How stupid is that?
As ever, the Government then made matters worse by scrapping Student Maintenance Grants, traditionally topped-up by holiday and weekend jobs, in favour of bank-run Loan Schemes. Thereafter most students chose simply to ratchet-up their huge bank debt all year round.
By the turn of the Millennium there was indeed a dramatic fall in 15-29 year-olds, with Fenland  suffering a drop of almost 1,800 in this critical age group. The labour shortage did have one beneficial effect however, for it obliged notoriously tight-fisted Fen farmers and factory bosses to pay their workforce a decent living wage for a change: more than double the Minimum Wage.
Then out of the blue, early in the new Century, something unprecedented happened in Fenland.
It all began in 2002 when Brussels granted EU membership to eight East European nations. Most of the other big beasts in Europe (Germany, France, Spain, Italy) put a 7-year block on migrants from Eastern Europe pouring across their borders in search of jobs and homes. But British industry, being ever mindful that cheap immigrant labour was the quick way to easy profits, couldn't wait to have them here, and persuaded the Government to post a more or less open invitation to the new Member States, saying in effect: "Come one, come all.....our economy needs YOU!"                                                         
The entreaty was all but irresistible, thanks to a previous ruling from the European Court of Human Rights, which in 1985 declared that anyone entitled to live in another country was also entitled to bring every other member of their extended family with them.
3.

 
MASS MIGRATION
                                                                                                                                                                                                   
The outcome was predictable; nay, it was intentional. By 2003 thousands of Portuguese families suddenly began arriving in Britain, emigrating here because (they said) they had been ousted from their agricultural jobs back home by a sudden incoming wave of Polish workers. Very soon, however, the Polish tide changed direction and began sweeping over Britain instead, inundating Fenland farms and factories in particular. Following fast in its wake came an even bigger tsunami of Lithuanians, Latvians and ethnic Russians. At least a million were in the UK by 2006. Nor were these newcomers arriving only as temporary seasonal workers. A large and growing proportion intended to settle here......permanently. 
Fen farmers and factory bosses were ecstatic. Landlords and gangmasters couldn't believe their luck. Mini-wages were back again for everyone......plus multi-lets at maxi-rents for the foreigners.  Lovely big bucks and loud hoorahs all round.
Only one nasty fly in the ointment: the hefty government increases in Fenland's Business Rates, which have risen 63% in the last ten years, from around £14 million to almost £23 million by 2013.  
                                                                                                                                                                        
INVISIBLE IMMIGRANTS
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) hasn't a clue how many people are living in the UK nowadays. Its 2011 Census recorded over one million residents were from Eastern Europe, but in April 2014 it finally admitted to underestimating their numbers by a massive 350,000.4 
Meanwhile the Census for Fenland had the population increasing to 95,262, of which a mere 4,439  were East European nationals, including 665 migrant children and pensioners. This hopelessly inaccurate head count also occurred in the two migrant-heavy districts of Lincolnshire, with Boston said to have only 6,839 East Europeans, and Spalding just 5,241.5
In short, most of the East European workers had simply ignored the Census altogether. The trouble was, these wholly erroneous ONS statistics are still being used by Cambridgeshire officials to formulate all their policies and funding for Fenland. [See Page 8: 'Uncounted migrants']
                                                                                                                        
COMMUNITIES BALKANISED
Generally speaking, when immigrants are relatively few in number they will make an effort to blend into the landscape by adopting the language and culture of the host community. But East Europeans in Fenland were legion and increasing year on year, and consequently felt neither the need nor the desire to speak English and integrate. Being employed en masse in fields and factories, and then lodged together in shared houses, each different Teutonic/Slavic nationality sticking closely with its own, served to Balkanise the newcomers still more. Before long the Poles and Lithuanians had established numerous caf├ęs, shops and supermarkets in Fenland, employing their own people to sell their own imported food in their own language. The Polish migrants were further segregated by being granted separate church services, conducted by their own priests in their own native tongue. Meanwhile Lithuanians acquired a couple of Wisbech pubs, one of whose licensees was ordered by the police to remove a somewhat hostile notice from its windows: 'No British here'.
By 2006 the strain of living among so many uncommunicative foreigners was beginning to tell on the Fenland populace, particularly in Wisbech where most of the food processing and packaging industries were based, and three-quarters of the migrants were living.6 Here, not only were local workplaces becoming filled with East Europeans, but whole neighbourhoods as well. 
Something had to be done. But what, and how.....and by whom?
4.

TO BE CONTINUED