Defeated by EU migration

THE notion that the Government can manage immigration through setting achievable targets has always been a pipedream, simply because the free movement of people within the European Union makes it impossible.

It is now 10 years since Labour first opened Britain’s borders to EU migrants, predicting that only 13,000 would move to Britain from Eastern Europe. In reality, more than one million arrived in one of the biggest waves of immigration this country has seen, a total now increased through the lifting of restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian migrants.

It was folly to believe that this type of fundamental change to Britain’s social make-up could be achieved without serious consequences, the latest indication of this being the astonishing announcement that a secondary school in Leeds is to begin teaching English as a foreign language because of the huge number of pupils arriving with no English at all.

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Given these circumstances, and the fact that up to 50 languages are spoken at the school, City of Leeds School is to be commended on its initiative. But it is fair to ask why the need for this sort of provision in Britain’s schools was not envisaged and planned for much earlier.

It is not necessarily the case that the wave of Eastern European immigration has been damaging to Britain. On the contrary, in fact, in many instances, with new arrivals distinguishing themselves by their industriousness and willingness to do jobs that many unemployed Britons appear unwilling to do.

But, of course, not even the most starry-eyed supporter of untrammelled immigration could deny that this mass influx has brought problems in its wake – the fact that police officers from Romania, Lithuania and Poland are arriving in Britain to help their local colleagues deal with foreign criminals on the roads is a reminder of that.

But by far the biggest worry here is that Britain is simply not in control of its own borders and politicians from all main parties have been so busy trying to hide from that fact that proper provision has not been made for the huge impact on Britain’s infrastructure of uncontrolled immigration.

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And with the attempt to curb migrants’ benefits – one of the few policies the Government has put in place to deter immigration – now under threat by legal action from Brussels, UK Independence Party candidates will be rubbing their hands in anticipation of voters soon having their say on this debacle at the European elections.

Central diktats - But housing needs are local

CONSIDERING that the Government supposedly prides itself on localism, it is undermining its own worthy aspirations through its rigidly dictatorial planning policy.

Certainly, that is the conclusion of the Campaign to Protect Rural England which points out in its latest report the continued erosion of green fields around towns and cities, including Green Belt land, while the opportunity to regenerate urban land and formerly industrial brownfield sites is being missed.

Of course, the need for housing is acute and the CPRE should not be too precious about this. There are many greenfield sites that could host housing developments without the beauty of the English countryside being imperilled.

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The principal point, however, is that local areas should have far more of say in this and not be powerless before the National Planning Policy Framework to the extent that they are unable to direct developers to brownfield sites and unable to appeal decisions properly because of the huge legal costs involved.

Centrally decreed targets have never been a successful means of providing for housing needs and that will not change regardless of how tough the Government tries to act. Far better to get the maximum amount of housing with the minimum damage to the countryside through working with local democracy instead of against it.

End of the workplace cuppa

IT HAS been the mainstay of the British workforce since time immemorial. But the days of the traditional office tea round are all but over, according to a new study by the Royal Voluntary Service, which found that a third of employees prefer to make themselves a drink and get back to work rather than bother with the needs of their colleagues.

A sign of the economic times, perhaps, with business becoming just a little too competitive, even cut-throat, for such genteel rituals?

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Or perhaps it is the sign of an even sadder and more general trend, a further fraying of the bonds of good manners and gentle comradeship which should be at the heart of every workplace. And no one should be drinking to that.