Unscrupulous landlords and unscrupulous gangmasters still rife in Wisbech and Fens, MP tells Commons

MP Steve Barclay

MP Steve Barclay - Credit: Archant

UNSCRUPULOUS landlords are charging up to £50 per person per week and packing up to 22 people into bungalows in parts of Wisbech, Steve Barclay told fellow MPs.

Migrant workers pick strawberries

Migrant workers pick strawberries - Credit: Archant

He said Census figures do not reflect this over occupancy but the problems it causes are immense.

Migrant workers are employed within many sectors across the East of England -

Migrant workers are employed within many sectors across the East of England - - Credit: Grant Norman / MMP

“Because if lots of people are living in one house, where do they go?” said Mr Barclay. “They tend to go and have a drink on the street. That upsets neighbours. It creates problems such as that of urinating in public places. It just is intimidating to many people to see gangs of people, even if they are acting lawfully.”

Exploited workers target of MP's campaign

Exploited workers target of MP's campaign - Credit: Archant © 2005

He said: “In my view, there has been a failure by agencies to take on the issue of houses in multiple occupation. There has been a licence system more recently in Peterborough. We do not still have one in Fenland; I believe that we should.”

Mr Barclay told a Parliamentary debate last night that Wisbech and the Fens already had a concentration of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) “and that situation will only become more acute when Bulgarian and Romanian people come into those areas.”


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He welcomed what Ministers were doing to discourage people from coming but there was insufficient action to tackle existing problems “so let us get on with it. Let us attack it now in order to ease the pressure when those from Bulgaria and Romania come in.”

He also said many people from Bulgaria and Romania would arrive in their own vehicles and under the law will have six months in which they can drive without having to register their vehicles here.

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Recent figures show that not a single person was prosecuted last year for not registering their vehicle after six months.

“The Government seem to be under the impression that every single person from Eastern Europe who came in under the previous accession registered their vehicle after six months and not one of them continued to drive on the roads without doing that,” said Mr Barclay.

“Surgery cases that frequently come before me suggest that that might not be the case in my constituency, and logic would suggest that it is not the case.

“My point is this. There are constraints on what we can do under EU law and what we can renegotiate, but in terms of Bulgarians and Romanians coming into the country, we can at least show their neighbours, the British people, that the laws have been applied equally to them.

“If my constituents have to MOT, license and insure their car but they see a rickety vehicle that does not look roadworthy and that they strongly suspect is not registered and they see a Government who never take action to prosecute someone that feeds into the sense of grievance that all are not being treated equally.”

Mr Barclay reminded MPs that a multi agency task force is currently operating in Wisbech and Fenland to tackle much of the illegality associated with housing and employment and he would reviewing it with Ministers in coming months.

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