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Government immigration experts to visit Boston

Boston's efforts to tackle the challenges posed by population change have made some dramatic moves forward.

Cllr Paul Kenny at the House of Commons to address the all-party group.

An influential all-party committee is to travel from the House of Commons to Boston to study the impact of population change. And it is hoped members of the public will have an opportunity to speak to them.

The visit follows an invited appearance at the committee's conference - Immigration to the regions: how do we ensure that no-one is left behind? - by Cllrs Paul Kenny and Mike Gilbert.

They had been invited by MP Jack Dromey, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Migration, to join the conference at the House of Commons on Wednesday, January 23,

It looked at how immigration to the UK over the past decade has had diverse and substantial effects on communities and economies and how the debate about the regional effects of migration is often undermined by the lack of clear information indicating the benefits and costs of migration.

Cllr Kenny, chairman of Boston Borough Council's impact of population change task and finish group, said: "Boston Borough Council would like to thank the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Migration for inviting us to present a case study of Boston to their special hearing "

He was able to tell them about the population changes since 2004 and what the social impact of this has been. He also told them that the title of their hearing was very relevant to Boston as some local people have told the council that they do feel they are being left behind. 

He also spoke of the 28 recommendations from the report and how the APPG could assist in getting the relevant Government ministers to take up some of the recommendations, certainly round the areas of drinking on the streets, restricting the number of off-licenses in certain areas, better registration and information about foreign vehicles being brought into the country, dealing with employment issues such as zero-hour contracts and stopping single nationality employment agencies from operating and also making sure the GLA (Gangmasters' Licensing Authority) doesn't lose any of its existing powers.

He said: "These were just a few of the 28 recommendations which we believe the Government should take action on and pursue some of our recommendations related to the European Union."

Cllr Gilbert, Boston Borough Council's portfolio holder for community development, said: "It was important that we had opportunity to present the task and finish group's report direct to Government. It's credit to the council and the work of the task and finish group that the Government is taking it seriously and listening to our recommendations."

The council's in-depth population change report has been sent to Government and a number of influential national bodies and contains 28 recommendations arrived at after evidence was taken from the police, employers, educators, the press, other councils in Lincolnshire, the MP, council enforcement and health departments and experts on migration and population change.

The Census has already shown that Boston has had one of the highest percentage increases in population in the country - now officially 64,600, up from the 55,800 recorded by the 2001 census, and a 15.8 per cent increase.

Government uses the census statistics to allocate funding for services such as education, transport and health. Policy makers in central and local government use the census to identify the needs of different communities and they are also used by commercial enterprises. It also provides the benchmark for future population estimates and for sample surveys.

Discussion about the influx of Eastern European workers to Boston dominated BBC's Question Time programme recently, attracting national media interest.

Cllr Kenny is also meeting with shadow minister for social inclusion, Chris Williamson MP, to discuss the issues.