The towns in England where Poles are still arriving
Towns and villages in parts of rural England are seeing eastern European immigrants arriving in record numbers, it can be revealed.
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
Published: 8:00AM BST 13 Jun 2010
Picture-postcard districts of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire experienced a rise last year, bucking a nationwide decline which has coincided with the economic downturn.
Some areas saw their annual total of new arrivals increase by nearly a quarter.
In King's Lynn and West Norfolk, 1,550 eastern Europeans moved in last year, as measured by the number applying for National Insurance (NI) numbers – essential for migrants to work legally or to claim benefits.
The total, up by 23 per cent on the previous year's figure, was the highest that the area has seen since the expansion of the European Union in 2004 which gave citizens of Poland, and seven other former Communist countries, the right to live and work freely in the UK.
Nationwide, the number of eastern European immigrants applying for NI numbers fell last year by 70,000.
King's Lynn, a medieval market town, and its surrounding district – including the birthplace of Lord Nelson at Burnham Thorpe – have now seen 6,800 eastern Europeans arrive and apply for NI numbers since 2004, although it is unknown how many have remained in the area.
Cambridgeshire's Fenland district, including the towns of Wisbech and March, also saw a 23 per cent rise last year to 1,530, bringing its total since 2004 to 4,430.
Boston in Lincolnshire, where mass immigration has earned the town the nickname “Little Poland”, saw its number of incomers increase by 12 per cent last year to 2,040, the highest on record.
North Norfolk also saw a record number apply for NI numbers last year, with 560 compared with 500 in 2008.
In another example of how immigration is affecting England's eastern counties, more eastern Europeans have registered for NI numbers in Peterborough since 2004 than in major cities like Leeds, Glasgow and Manchester just under 19,000 compared with 15,200, 16,600 and 18,100 respectively.
The findings come after Ed Balls, the Labour leadership candidate, claimed last week that the issue of immigration had been “brushed under the carpet” by Gordon Brown and called for an end to free movement of workers across the EU.
He said: “That means re-examining the relationship between domestic laws and European rules which allow unaccompanied migrants to send child benefit and tax credits back to families at home.”
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the pressure group Migrationwatch, said of the new figures: “This is not good news for the towns and areas that have experienced this extraordinarily rapid rise.
“Most foreign immigration is now from outside the EU but the heavy concentration of EU migrants in particular areas places a huge strain on public services.
“For British people in these areas it is a 'heads you lose, tails you lose' situation. If immigrants are registering for work, there are fewer jobs for British workers and if they are coming for benefits, it is a heavy burden on the taxpayer.”
Research conducted in 2007 showed that Boston had seen the largest number of arrivals relative to the size of the local population.
Calculations for the Local Government Association showed that one in eight of the district's working-age inhabitants was eastern European.
The second highest proportion was in Peterborough where nine per cent were from eastern Europe.
In the figures, seen by The Sunday Telegraph, three other Lincolnshire districts – South Holland, West Lindsey and East Lindsey – saw small year-on-year increases in their number of eastern European NI applications.
Other areas which defied the national trend by recording a rise in new arrivals from eastern Europe last year included Dover, Thanet, Swale, and Tonbridge and Malling, in Kent; Harlow in Essex; Waverley in Surrey; Arun in West Sussex; Sedgemoor and Taunton Deane in Somerset; Newark and Sherwood in Nottinghamshire; South Staffordshire; Warrington; Bradford; the London boroughs of Enfield, Havering and Redbridge; and Aberdeenshire and Angus, in Scotland.
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