Immigration protest march in Boston called off

Boston sign.
Boston sign.

A MARCH to protest about immigration concerns in Boston has been called off.

Organiser Dean Everitt decided to call off the march after he met with Boston Borough Council leader Peter Bedford and communities portfolio holder Coun Mike Gilbert last night (Tuesday).

The council and Mr Everitt are now appealing for anyone who was planning to come to the town for next month’s protest to stay away.

A group is also to be set up to examine issues around immigration and the impact on Boston.

Mr Everitt said some common ground was found at the meeting over concerns about the impact immigration levels are having on the town, and he decided to call the march off after accepting assurances that action was being taken.

But he said that there could be a march at a later date if he felt matters had not progressed – but sufficient warning would be given.

He said it had not been an easy decision to call off the November 19 march after the support he had been shown, but he was concerned that his plans for a low-level local peaceful protest were in danger of being hi-jacked and so called it off for fear that town centre businesses would suffer.

He said his intentions had been to ‘highlight to the authorities the concerns’ that some have over the impact high levels of immigration are having on the town.

“That has been achieved without the need to protest in the streets,” he said. “I did not want to have civil unrest, damage to property and trade in the town centre on my conscience.”

Coun Bedford was able to reveal to Mr Everitt that the council has been talking for some months to the Home Office about the impact of immigration on Boston.

The talks have culminated in an agreement for a Home Office team to visit the town for an in-depth case study. The authority said the team will investigate the social impacts of immigration at local level to better understand the costs and benefits. The council says this will help inform policy making, ensuring it is sensitive to the local context and will be set against the backdrop of public concern about the impacts of immigration on public services.

A local workshop and series of interviews are now being planned.

The council will make a case to the Home Office for Mr Everitt to meet with researchers when they come to Boston, when he will be able to talk to them about the issues as he and his supporters see them.

The council is to also set up a task and finish scrutiny group to examine issues around immigration and the impact on Boston, and Mr Everitt has been invited to be a part of that group, following the Home Office visit in November.

Mr Everitt said: “It was a constructive two-hour meeting. The councillors listened to what we had to say and advised us about the areas in which they are able to take action and influence outcomes.

“I am pleased to be able to take up the offers from Coun Bedford. It achieves what we wanted – an opportunity for us to have our say to those in power miles away who make the rules which have impacted on Boston.

“I would now appeal to any who planned to come to Boston to protest to stay away – those who planned to support my peaceful protest march and those who planned to come with other agendas in mind. Nothing more can be achieved by their presence here.”

Coun Bedford said: “We had not been able to say anything until now about the sensitive talks we were having with the Home Office over the past few months which have concluded only recently with the Home Office agreeing to come to Boston to speak to people here about issues around immigration.

“I hope this provides an answer to critics who have accused us of having our heads in the sand and doing nothing.

“What we don’t need now is disruption in the town. I know many businesses have been anxious about a protest, especially in view of talk of other groups, some from outside Boston and even Lincolnshire, coming to the town. They have been concerned for the safety of their staff, their properties and damage to trade during a time which is already difficult enough.

“I join with Dean in urging them not to come to Boston and allow the town to go about its normal business in peace.”

Assistant Chief Constable Carl Langley said: “We welcome the decision to cancel the march as this was having an impact on the community, causing significant concern. Whilst we were preparing to police the event we are now looking to continue to work with Boston Borough Council, the community and all other partners to ensure that Boston remains a safe place to live.”