“THERE is no doubt that Boston has had disproportionate difficulties dealing with recent levels of migration.”
These were the words of Professor Gary Craig, a leading expert on migration when he spoke at the final meeting of Boston Borough Council’s Task and Finish Group into immigration on Wednesday.
He was invited along to provide analysis of the situation in Boston backed by facts and research – but some of his views were not taken kindly by others at the meeting.
Prof Craig, from the Universities of Durham and Hull, told the inquiry: “Like it or not there is a demand for labour. There is a higher concentration of gangmasters around Boston than there is in almost any part of the country. If there was no demand for labour those reasonably seeking to better their lives in Eastern Europe would not be attracted to come here.
“Many local people don’t want to to the dirty, difficult jobs.”
In addition, he said there was no evidence to suggest that migration causes unemployment, or that if the migrants were not here the jobs would be filled by local people.
The professor, who recently completed a study into forced labour, blamed issues with migration on poor planning, poor reseourcing and poor regulation of employment providers, adding that the migrants were not to blame.
He added: “If you had a situation where the jobs went from being difficult, dirty and dangerous to having reasonable hours and conditions then local people would be more inclined to do it.”
Despite this, he said the main issue was the negative way which people viewed migration.
He said: “People talk about migration as a problem. We should start talking about the benefits of how it improves areas.”
According to Prof Craig, the portrayal of immigration in the national media gives people the wrong impression – and that includes in Boston. However, his estimation that there are about 5,000 migrants in Boston was refuted by members of the Boston Protest Group, with some saying it showed he was ‘out of touch’.
This was the last of the task and finish meetings collecting evidence. An interim report will now be compiled and produced in the autumn.