Widepread drain on all resources

PUBLISHED: 16:12 05 October 2007 | UPDATED: 23:06 28 May 2010

JULIE Spence, Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire, seems to have stirred a hornet s nest with her comments last week regarding the influx of immigrants into Cambridgeshire. When she said the large influx was a drain on her Police resources, she was actually

JULIE Spence, Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire, seems to have stirred a hornet's nest with her comments last week regarding the influx of immigrants into Cambridgeshire.

When she said the large influx was a drain on her Police resources, she was actually understating the truth. The large influx is having a major effect on the services that can be delivered within the county and indeed Fenland.

No one should underestimate the contribution that immigrant workers make to our daily lives. Most of us take it for granted that we can walk into a major supermarket and buy fresh produce, nicely packed, washed and presented. This would not happen without workers from overseas.

They carry out the work that many of us are not prepared to do. They work long hours, in fields and pack houses in all weathers and adverse conditions just to provide this service. They also carry out vital work in other industries, including: health, construction and catering.

Remember they also come to carry out work that the "work shy" and those on the fringes of incapacity benefits refuse to do. Perhaps there is a lesson there.

We should also remember that these people have families and responsibilities too, often doing this work to make life easier for those left at home.

The Government is responsible for the open door policy that allows any body into this country, but it fails to recognise that a sudden rush of incomers is a huge drain on local services, not just the police, but social services, education, housing and health.

Cambridgeshire's social services are stretched to the limit; the doctor's surgeries are full to capacity, school children have to be bussed around the district. But the way the Government allocates grants does not take this into account.

Sometimes the grant re-allocation can be two years behind the actual population figures. This causes huge financial problems, increasing pressures on all services. One million pounds just for police interpreters is small change compared with the extra costs on all services. This runs into tens of million pounds, all of which has to be funded by the council tax payers. It could lead to huge hikes in council tax, major cuts in services or both.

So while a Government minister patronises Mrs Spence as a "public servant" with concerns, he should talk to his colleagues in Government and seriously start to address the problem and allocate the funding we are due.

ALAN MELTON

County and District Councillor

Chatteris

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