IN A sense the horrific demise of five migrant workers recently burnt to death in an industrial unit in Boston, bears no resemblance to the damage caused by periodic flooding of parts of the town.
They were apparently blown up distilling illicit, dangerous alcohol products which may have killed, blinded or permanently injured those who drank their illicit brews.
A tide of migrant workers began flooding into Boston from 2004 onwards. As they were European Union citizens they were equal to the Bostonians with whom they rubbed shoulders. The flood was continuous but made up of different nationalities. Waves of Portuguese, Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Russian and Turkish migrants simply overwhelmed the fabric of our market town. Not just the physical structures like accommodation or even the administrative framework like the courts and doctors, but the very social structures created over decades. They had an impact on virtually every aspect of the town and life in the borough.
The migrants did solve many problems faced by towns with static or declining populations. Migrants are used by gangmasters to provide cheap, limitless, well motivated and a young labour force, at minimum cost to farmers and other large employers. As gangmasters are the supplier, the employers have few human resource problems which can be worth a fortune. Smaller entrepreneurs have use of the same type of workforce, as the £3 car washes bears testimony. Boston has fewer empty shop premises in the county than any other town. Shops, restaurants, employment and many other businesses dealing mainly with migrants, abound.
Many landlords in Boston provide accommodation which has proved very profitable. A small terraced house may offer seven or more rooms at £100 per month each, for example. With such a house selling at less than £80,000 – the profit is clear. Hot-bedding and ‘garage’ or ‘outhouse’ apartments, are common. Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are endemic and mainly uncontrolled.
New arrivals have saved the local maternity unit, and many schools whose pupil numbers were in decline.
Interestingly, when Boston suffered some minor surface water flooding in 2007, the Government did react, and Lincolnshire County Council became a leading force in flood prevention and protection. Even a £100 million Boston flood barrier has been promised in the coming years. Planning to counter flooding has also been improved. This at a time of austerity!
There is no equivalent for migrant control. Why is the Government failing to help solve Boston’s migrant problems?
COUN RAY NEWELL
Lincolnshire County Council