Category Archives: Immigration
FENLAND DISTRICT COUNCIL
Rogue landlords who exploit migrants in poor housing to be targeted by new inspection team
Rogue landlords who exploit migrants in sub-standard accommodation in Wisbech are set to be targeted by a new team of enforcers – thanks to government funding.
The officers will inspect thousands of privately-rented homes in the town to crackdown on overcrowding and dangerous conditions to help both the tenants themselves and neighbouring families.
The government’s Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has given Fenland District Council £192,370 from its Controlling Migration Fund to launch the enforcement plan.
Two new private-sector housing officers will work alongside Operation Pheasant, the multi-agency task force set up in 2012 to tackle migrant exploitation across Fenland.
In its bid to the DCLG, the council said although Operation Pheasant is successful in tackling housing condition issues, rogue landlords, gangmasters and organised crime groups, additional resource was needed to get to grips with the issues in Wisbech.
It also said high levels of deprivation, coupled with significant inward migration and cheap poor quality housing, has meant the town has become a hub for exploitation. Rogue landlords take advantage of the fact people who are relatively new to the country don’t know they can complain about it, or are afraid to.
The new two-year project will see house-to-house inspections carried out on around 10,500 private rented properties to identify failings and take enforcement action where necessary. Data will also be gathered to enable effective monitoring, and intelligence shared with the Operation Pheasant task force.
Information packs will also be provided to tenants with advice on how to access local services and fire safety and information on workers’ rights, human trafficking and exploitation.
Councillor Will Sutton, Fenland District Council’s Portfolio Holder responsible for private-sector housing, said: “Poor quality private-rented accommodation has become a breeding ground for migrants to exist in sometimes dire and dangerous conditions, frequently overcrowded without basic safety standards in place.
“In Fenland we are working hard to tackle criminal landlords and through this extra funding, we expect to see a reduction in the number of these landlords letting out such accommodation and exploiting tenants.
“I would like to pay tribute to council officers, as once again they have put together a successful, strong evidence-based bid to DCLG.”
Late Night Shenanigans
Friday night, I was working in my office. It was about 2.30 AM.
I was disturbed by a loud noise from the alleyway alongside my house. It sounded like a group of drunk people doing the things groups of drunk people do. In the alley, alongside my house.
Since my son’s bedroom overlooks that alley and I was worried he’d be awoken, I put my dressing gown on and went out.
It was very dark. There were, perhaps, a dozen men and women in the alley. They were talking (loudly), laughing (loudly) and the collective sound in an otherwise quiet street was very loud. But they didn’t know because, as previously mentioned, they were quite drunk. At this point, from the languages and accents, I identified that most (but not all) of them were of Eastern European origin.
I approached them and asked the biggest fella if they wouldn’t mind keeping it down a bit, since my son was asleep quite close by.
They apologised profusely. Several of them shook my hand. They shushed one another and generally quietened down. Then they left.
Sorry this isn’t the horror story about horrible foreigners and their terrible behaviour that some might have hoped for. I could have just made something dramatic and scary up, which would have been more fun to read. But I thought, In this instance, I’d just tell it as it happened.
Migration And It’s Local Effects
The problem with the discussion about how immigration affects my home town of Wisbech – and we probably share this with many other market towns – is that the debate is so polarised. People take an extreme position on one end or the other and shout their opposite numbers down.
In one corner we have the “Get Them Out!” crowd for whom the vast majority of the problems in the town, in the region and in the country are related almost directly to the millions of people who have come from elsewhere to live here. Which particular group of foreign folk are the most to blame will depend on which group is the largest in their area. So here in Wisbech the group people blame are Eastern Europeans – but in Bradford it’s probably a different group entirely. They will loudly point out all the things that they don’t approve of that are allegedly happening as a result of the influx of newcomers and they will trumpet any news story which supports their position while paying less attention to those which do not.
In the other corner we have the “Butter Wouldn’t Melt In Their Mouths” brigade for whom the massive influx of people is just the best thing since sliced bread. They gleefully remind local folk of the failings of our own indigenous people while holding up those who have come from elsewhere as a bastion of hard work, fair play and innocence. They demand that claims of misbehaviour are unfair, unbalanced, or represent “only a tiny minority” which has no significance in the wider debate.
The big problem with such polar opposite arguments is that they tend to exaggerate one another. So the comments of their enemy group so incense them that they say even more inflammatory things to counter-attack. Thus the dispute continues to spiral larger and larger with a handful of “Spokespeople” on each side getting redder and redder of face while their fury and outrage mounts.
Of course, as ever, the truth is somewhere in the middle. It is true that most of the newcomers to the town just came to the U.K. for a better life, or to earn a better wage, or to enjoy the economic and social freedoms available here. The majority of migrants, like the majority of people who were born here, just want to work and get on in life. Those are the ones who are a positive and useful addition to this town and this whole region and we should welcome them with open arms.
But there is another group – and it isn’t a particularly small group either – which do not fit that description. These are the people who have been known to have pitched battles with one another on a Friday night. These are the people who congregate menacingly in public spaces flouting local by-laws without challenge. These are the people who are asleep on the park benches at 10AM on a Saturday morning, surrounded by empty beer cans , while children and old people pick their way nervously past them. These are the people who are shouting and screaming their way down the roads from midnight through ’til about 4AM if you’re unlucky enough to live on a route that leads from whatever watering hole is currently popular to whatever street currently has the most Houses Of Multiple Occupancy. These are the people who, when nature demands a release of bodily waste, don’t feel there is any need to be shy and just go for it au naturale. These are the people who – for whatever reasons – have been occasionally stabbing one another of late.
Neither side of the argument are helping, really. To say there isn’t a problem when anybody with half a brain and a pair of eyes can see that there is wont help. But to claim that the problem is caused by all the newcomers and to use offensive slurs to insist that is completely wrong and, frankly, pretty mean too. To say that only foreign people get drunk and act like idiots is nonsensical when we all know that it’s something plenty of British people enjoy too. But to say that we’ve “always” had this problem is an exaggeration, since you only have to walk about on any weekend evening to quickly see that there really is a majority group involved in problems and, while they don’t own a monopoly on trouble, they are also very easy to spot amongst it.
The hard truth here is that we already have all the powers we need to solve this problem. We don’t need draconian new ones (single cans, etc.) There are already laws or local regulations against drunken behaviour, vandalism, public urination, drinking in public spaces, causing a nuisance, fighting, drug-dealing and driving up and down the back roads at one hundred and twenty miles an hour. Nor does it matter who is doing those things. They could be from Estonia, or Lithuania, or Poland or – god forbid – England. That’s the beauty of the law, you see. It’s blind to who you are or where you come from – it just deals with your actions and behaviour. A little more of that and perhaps both sides of the migration argument would have less to fight about.
**Please note: I have not addressed, here, the problem with virtually unlimited immigration and migration under thirteen years of Labour misrule, nor the fact that it hasn’t changed a great deal since then. I’ve concentrated on local effects. In my view, an island nation like ours must have a sensible immigration policy and control of its borders. Such an immigration policy – which should allow a reasonable influx of new people in numbers that won’t create a massive culture shock – is just common sense to me. But that’s a debate for another time.
Free Trade (and all it entails)
I’ve just finished catching up on Charlotte Gore’s blog. She just won a Total Politics award as a Lib Dem blogger, in fact she has been hailed as THE Lib Dem blogger, coming FIRST amongst Lib Dems in the UK (and beating my feeble ’27th among Conservatives’ with ease… grrr.)
It’s a well-deserved award because it really is an excellent blog which I enjoy regularly. Though I can’t help but wonder if Conservative votes were amongst those pushing her up to the top spot (I voted her in my batch, for instance) since her Libertarian leanings are in keeping with many Conservatives like myself.
A recent post of hers which interested me was titled Shameless Filler #2 although it’s rambling turns out to be rather more than the filler it is masquerading as. Amongst other things she defends Dan Hannan (which is always a good thing in my book.) The paragraph which struck me was:-
It’s depressing that anyone would accuse Dan Hannan of dog whistle racism – although I don’t really know enough about Hannan to know about his specific attitudes, but one the really interesting features of liberalism, especially classical and libertarianism (in which category Hannan places himself) is, as a rule, most of us are lovers of Free Trade. Free Trade explicitly demands free movement of people, which means we’re quite often the most pro-immigration people in the room.
I would also call myself a Libertarian, but as with most political ideologies it comes in varied shades. I’m pretty sure Charlotte, as a Lib Dem, will not agree with LPUK (Libertarian Party UK) on all issues because in some instances they, or she, will be more extreme in their views. Libertarians believe in personal and economic freedom, but we are not anarchists – we do not believe in “no rules at all.” So the balance is always: “Which rules are necessary?” and “What power does the state really need?” Less is more. Small is good.
Charlotte suggests, with the classic zeal of a believer, that “free trade explicity demands free movement of people”. Um… no. It doesn’t. It may do if you are Charlotte and that’s the shape of free trade which you envision. But we trade goods. We don’t trade people. Or at least we don’t any more, thank God.
Sensibly-controlled immigration and secure borders does no harm whatsoever to the concept of free trade. Charlottes “straw man” was emphasised to defend her belief in open borders and tied (incorrectly in my opinion) to free trade.
In the same post Charlotte says:
Seems to me the best way to defeat libertarians is to focus on the ’soft on immigration’ aspect, which is why the Conservatives will never be a libertarian party, and which is why I’ll never be a Tory, and why, obviously, I’ll never be Prime Minister.
In response to that I’d say that relating open borders with free trade is part-and-parcel of the Lib Dem infatuation with the European Union and the related madness of perpetually open borders with no control over who lives in the U.K. beyond the manic grinning “come one come all” approach that’s worked so very well in recent years. Which is why I’ll never be a Lib Dem.