Two Peterborough councillors have written to the leaders of the three main political parties to complain about immigration levels. The Executive Director of Operations Paul Phillipson comments on the subject. Broadcast at 08:10 on Friday January 22nd 2010 in Paul Stainton’s Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Peterborough.
PS: Our top story today, two Peterborough councillors have written to the leaders of the three main political parties to highlight how immigration is affecting the city’s services. Earlier Charlie Swift told us why he’s taking the action he is. (TAPE)
CS: The whole point of what we’re trying to stress is to stop this silly business of walking round hospitals for twenty minutes, and going round schools having all these silly photographs taken. They want to come to Peterborough. They want to get to live in a real world, and we want some answers to these questions, and let’s start being honest open and straight and above the board, and realise that the position that not only Peterborough the North Ward is getting into, but many other parts of the country.(LIVE)
PS: Well Councillor Swift as he said there represents the North Ward, which has seen the number of EU citizens rise from just four, five years ago, to five hundred and thirty seven now. The local school in the North Ward is Fulbridge Primary. Headteacher Ian Erskine says the rise in immigration means the school has twenty seven different languages, and cannot cater for all the local children.(TAPE)
IE: The other issue around the area is that there’s been such an influx even continuing now of European families coming into this area, that the local authority have calculated that we have ninety children in each year group in our school, they’ve calculated that there’s probably a hundred and forty children in the area. So that means there’s fifty children not getting places at their local school. (LIVE)
PS: Sounds incredibly pressurised, doesn’t it? So how badly are the services being affected in the rest of the city? Paul Phillipson is from Peterborough City Council. Morning Paul.
PP: Good morning Paul.
PS: Some shocking really figures, and some shocking stories really of how immigration is impacting on the people of the North Ward, on the services in the North Ward. What do you think about what Charles Swift had to say first of all?
PP: First of all, Councillor Swift knows his ward excellently, and as you can see from the information he’s got, he knows about all the issues and problems within his ward. He certainly spends an awful lot of time with the communities, and going round the communities trying to understand the work. And it is .. Peterborough is a diverse community. What you hear, of course, is a lot about what the negatives are. I mean the city wouldn’t be where it is if it hadn’t been built on the fact of migration across the years. I mean I’m born and bred here in Peterborough, and we’ve had migration right through the sixties, seventies and just post-war.
PS: Not as much as this though. This is what Charlie Swift is saying, isn’t it? It’s really impacting now. I mean that’s a huge increase of people, and it’s not just about the people who perhaps were here before the EU citizens arrived, it’s about all of these people. Because a lot of them can’t speak English, and there’s not the resources is what he’s saying, to cope with it all.
PP: Well what’s happened over the years, and Peterborough now is probably a beacon for a lot of authorities in the way in which we do actually with new migrants. I mean the head teacher there talked about twenty seven different languages. There’s probably over one hundred languages and ninety nationalities in the whole of Peterborough. But what they do is they provide a phenomenal number of services within the city. So they do contribute to the economy, because of the volume of people that we’ve got. You’re quite right. they do present some issues for the city. But we’ve got New Link where we actually engage, advise, and deal with the new communities as they arrive. The ward that Councillor Swift actually talks about has got specific legislation which we were the first authority in the country to apply for around houses in multiple occupancy, so we can manage, license them properly, and deal with them properly. I know Councillor Swift has talked about fly-tipping, and a lot of that we’ve put extra finance and extra funds which have come from Government, come actually from the Migration Impact Funding, in relation to educating new communities in the management of litter and how they use the three bin system. Which of course you do need the issues of translators for. We’ve also got landlord accreditation schemes, so we ensure that the landlords are doing their part to actually influence and affect. And we’ve got that system over about two and a half thousand properties now.
PS: Can we cope? Can we cope Paul as a council though with this this level of influx? Can we cope financially, or do we need more support here? Ian was saying there he can’t really cope with all the different kids at his school.
PP: Yeah I mean that is a complex issue, and that does have issues and effects on school transport. He’s quite right to articulate there the children numbers are growing in some of the primary schools, in some of the wards there like that. Can we cope? Yes we have to think differently, we have to work differently. But don’t forget a lot of the new communities coming here, they contribute to our economy, they contribute to the growth, and that’s and therefore they contribute to the sustainability of this city.
PS: And obviously do we have enough affordable housing for these people that are arriving? You know, do we have all those facilities in place? You mentioned New Look, you mentioned we’ve probably got the right amount of money, but I mean, we don’t even count them right, do we? I mean the Government says we’ve got so many people living in Peterborough, we think it’s more, don’t we?
PP: There’s a lot of complexities in relation to the numbers. It is really awful, because obviously the people have the right .. well actually it quite reassures me that they’ve registered within the voting system. Because what you’ve started to do is you’ve started to get a settled community. That’s not something you’re going to do if you’re arriving here for six months then disappearing. There is a change in our communities. So we first of all saw a large influx in the Polish community, some of those have returned home now. And actually those are being replaced by Latvians, Lithuanian, Slovak communities. So we have got constant change. And as a result of that, that does apply pressure. Because we need to then work with new individuals as they arrive in the community. It is really really reassuring that a lot of those families are settling, they are finding work, they are finding the opportunity to stay and deliver to the economy. So ultimately they will contribute to the pressures within the system.
PS: Do you think immigration is more of a benefit than not, to Peterborough city?
PP: To be perfectly honest it has to be, in this city. It’s a growth city, we’ve always encouraged migration into the city, as Councillor Swift talks about the Ugandan Asians in the past. And we no doubt will continue to encourage growth, because at the end of the day, a lot of the jobs that these people fulfil aren’t wanted to be fulfilled by local people.
PF: So what you’re saying is that there’s no real problems then really. we’re alright.
PP: I’m not saying there aren’t problems. There are challenges in the way in which we have to manage services and think differently. You can’t have a hundred languages spoken within this city without that causing a challenge to the services on a day to day basis. But actually what we’re doing is we’re embedding across the services language skills now, that have come from the new communities. So a lot of the staff in New Link are multilingual, we’ve got multilingual support and advisers throughout the authority, and throughout the health service, and certainly throughout the police service.
PS: He’s Paul Phillipson Executive Director of Operations at Peterborough City Council. His view on what Charlie Swift was saying earlier.