Skip to content

Bryant visit

Boston's report on the impact of population change could help form Labour's immigration policy.

Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant MP with, left, Cllr Paul Kenny, chairman of Boston's task and finish population change group, and Cllr Mike Gilbert, Boston Borough Council's community development portfolio holder

Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant MP, on a visit to Boston on Wednesday, told the task and finish group which compiled the report: "I want to make sure this ends up in the Labour manifesto."
He said he had no disagreement with any of the report's 28 recommendations and praised Boston Borough Council for the way in which it had tackled issues around inward migration.
He said that Labour's welcome-all, open-doors immigration policy when it has been in Government had been "badly wrong" and had placed pressures on councils, such as Boston, straining services it had to administer.

Mr Bryant came to Boston at the invitation of Cllr Mike Gilbert, Boston Borough Council's community development portfolio holder.
Mr Bryant heard from task and finish group members of the challenges in Boston caused by population growth and issues of concern around migrant workers such as wages being forced down and rents being hiked up, exploitation by unscrupulous employers, zero-hour contracts, sub-standard living conditions, street drinking and anti-social behaviour, some of which impacted on the general population.
Mr Rob Lauberts told him that Boston's infrastructure was creaking because of the dramatic and sudden population increase.
Earlier Mr Bryant had praised the borough council for the way in which it had managed in difficult circumstances with limited resources.
The 2011 Census showed Boston experienced a growth in population between 2001 and 2011 more than double the average for England and Wales.
Boston's population rose from 55,800 to 64,600 over the ten years - an increase of 15.8 per cent.
This compared to a ten per cent increase for Lincolnshire during that time and a 7.1 per cent overall rise for England and Wales.

A long-awaited Home Office report into the impact of migration, produced with assistance from Boston Borough Council, has been published.
It confirms Boston as a unique case among the 26 local authorities examined in the "migrant worker towns and countryside" cluster.

It recorded that Boston had "at least one characteristic that is highly pronounced: the immigration rate for EU Accession migrants in Boston, relative to the existing population, is around ten times higher than the England and Wales average."

The report was released on the same day as a report by Oxford University's Migration Observatory which revealed that the proportional increase in the foreign-born population of Boston from 2001 to 2011 was the biggest in the country rising by 467 per cent - from 1,727 in 2001 to 9,790 in 2011.
South Holland saw the third biggest proportional increase at 225 per cent from 2,600 in 2001 to 8,440 in 2011.

Cllr Gilbert said: "There is nothing in the reports that Bostonians are not aware of through practical experience, although some of the numbers might be a surprise.

"We all have to live, work and deliver services in circumstances of high migration, whilst maintaining a safe and tolerant town for all our residents. Whilst dealing with the practical challenges identified by Boston Borough Council,  for example HMOs, it is essential that people support the demand endorsed by our Conservative administration and MP Mark Simmonds for a re-negotiation of the EU settlement and the referendum in 2017."

Boston Borough Council was one of just seven to facilitate workshops for the Home Office, co-ordinating contributing organisations and individuals. It was the only one selected because it had experienced a high recent inflow of migrants from the EU Accession countries. These followed an invitation from the Home Office for Andy Fisher, the council's head of housing, health and community services, to attend a meeting with researchers in London to help determine the focus of the project.

The Home Office research is aimed at providing an evidence-based assessment of the effects of migration at local level and a framework to help to develop an understanding of the impacts that different types of migrants can have on local areas and their public services.

It is hoped it will also help to enable the UK's response to migration to become better attuned to its diversity.

Among its conclusions:

Other areas such as 'Migrant Worker Towns and Countryside' may experience a greater impact from recent new arrivals due to the new influx of population's high impact relative to the pre-existing levels and low population density (since these areas are predominantly rural);

This combination of high volumes of new migrants in an area with little previous experience of receiving migrants appears to give rise to greater challenges and potential tensions;

Migrants' attraction to low-cost temporary accommodation can attract them to particular areas and make them susceptible to rogue landlords, overcrowding and poorer quality housing;

Pressures on housing will be focused on the private rental sector, where most new migrants reside, and is likely to be associated with high volumes and mobility of migrant workers and therefore felt most keenly in high migration areas (for example, 'Migrant Worker Towns and Countryside');

When migrants lack English language skills, health service visits and appointment times are appreciably longer.