Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A FEW WEEKS AGO, Pickwick was visited by one of Wisbech's most celebrated - or notorious - depending on your point of view, public campaigners. In the aftermath of the Daily Mail/Ellee Seymour controversy, she had written to The Wisbech Standard, but they had chosen not to publish her letter. She asked if it could be put on this blog. So, here it is. The opinions are hers, not necessarily those of Pickwick. What are your views? Is she right, or is she taking an extreme view. AS ALWAYS, YOUR VIEWS ARE WELCOME via the comments link.

To the Editor, Wisbech Standard

Dear Sir,
Political blogger, Ellee Seymour, is almost right, but not quite. Commenting on the recent Daily Mail article about Wisbech, she says that ‘...a third of Wisbech’s 20,000 population is now said to be Eastern European.’ Statistics are funny things, and Ms Seymour’s mistake, though a common one, is too important to be overlooked.

Until a decade ago the population of Wisbech was indeed 20,000. But if, as seems evident today, one in three of the town’s population are now from Eastern Europe, it means that these incomers have in fact increased the population by 50 per cent, to a current total of around 30,000. By anybody’s reckoning this is a huge population explosion, and goes some way to explaining why local people have a distressing sense that they are being slowly but surely elbowed out of the picture by this rapid and continuous influx of foreign-speaking settlers.

When their numbers are relatively few, immigrants will usually make an effort to integrate socially with the host community. But the new immigrants to the Fens are legion, and therefore feel little need, or desire, to integrate at all. They are employed en bloc in the fields and factories, and they lodge together in shared rooms or houses, each different East European nationality sticking closely with its own. They have established their own shops, selling their own kind of food, in their own language. Some even run their own exclusive pubs in the town. Others have been further dis-integrated from the local populace by being granted their own separate church services, again in their own language. We have also seen how an increasing number of them have felt sufficiently well established to start having children, or have brought other dependent family members, even grandparents, over here to live with them. So the population keeps on growing, and with no apparent upper limit in sight. Everything is guesswork; nothing is known for certain.

Will Fenland councillors please wake up and start giving their electorate some simple facts, however uncomfortable. For example, have medical and NHS dental services in Wisbech been substantially increased in recent years to cope with the situation? How many foreign nationals are living in subsidised Council accomodation in the Fens? How many migrants’ children are now attending local primary and secondary schools? How many local immigrants are currently unemployed, or receiving benefits or pensions? And what is the jobless total among young Wisbechians? In the last three years, what proportion of local crime has been committed by foreign nationals? And finally, why is Fenland Licensing Panel continuing, against all police advice and public protes, to grant drinks licenses to yet more outlets in Wisbech, when the town is already awash with hard liquor and its damaging consequences?


Victoria Gillick,