A senior councillor says he does not expect Boston to be ‘overwhelmed’ when working restrictions are lifted for Romanians and Bulgarians.
Much has been made of the fact that EU labour restrictions are lifted for both countries on January 1, meaning more people are free to come to work in the UK.
Boston has been held up in the national press as an example of the impact of the last wave of EU migration following census figures which showed the borough’s non-UK born population rose from 1,727 in 2001 to 9,790 in 2011.
The increase – 8,063 – was 467 per cent and the figures showed Boston had the biggest Polish community outside the south east, with about 3,000 Poles making their home in the borough.
A national debate has raged about the possible numbers of new arrivals in the UK, but Boston borough councillor Mike Gilbert believes people in the town should not expect to see a big change.
He told The Standard: “I don’t think we will be overwhelmed on the first of January. I don’t think we will be seeing an influx. I think, over time, some existing migrant workers will possibly be replaced by Romanians and Bulgarians as they offer a higher level of flexibility.
“They are not drawing out the differences from 2004. We were one of only two countries accepting Eastern Europeans then and that’s not the case. Historically there are other countries with closer links to those countries than we have.
“Over the course of, let’s say, two years there may be some noticeable changes but I don’t think there is going to be an instant change. I would say it is highly unlikely.”
In November UKIP leader Nigel Farage told The Standard he believes Boston is ‘troubled’ and that services here would struggle to cope with many more new arrivals.
Boston’s MP Mark Simmonds said he is concerned at the possible impact of Romanian and Bulgarian arrivals in the UK and feels the 2004 wave put ‘huge pressure’ on places like Lincolnshire.
The borough council has drawn up a report after an inquiry into the impact of i mmigration in Boston. It has called for greater powers and resources to cater for the town’s bigger population and Coun Gilbert believes the work done has helped the Government prepare for January 1.
He said: “I think Boston has been an example of some of the complex issues surrounding European migration.
“We have taken the lead in terms of developing that and have contributed towards the debate.
“In terms of 2014, I am sure we are not going to see significant immigration but we are prepared for a change in the complexion of our migrant community because of the work we have done already.”