We won't let you rent'

PUBLISHED: 16:47 21 September 2007 | UPDATED: 23:04 28 May 2010

AT least 500 homes in the Fens have been given over to migrant workers with more and more landlords refusing to let to local people. There appears to be a landlord preference to let to migrant workers to increase profitability, as it is done on a per hea

AT least 500 homes in the Fens have been given over to migrant workers with more and more landlords refusing to let to local people.

"There appears to be a landlord preference to let to migrant workers to increase profitability, as it is done on a per head basis," says David Bailey, traveller and diversity manager for Fenland Council.

He said the council received reports regularly of homes being rented out to migrant workers and in some instances with blatant disregard for safety.

"There have been several serious fire incidents in these houses in multiple occupation over the last few years - and there are ongoing concerns about fire safety within this tenure."

Mr Bailey is the author of a 43-page migration population strategy which is to be discussed by the council's Cabinet next week.

He believes Fenland's capacity to adapt to the challenge of mass migration is the 'key theme of our age' and its role in a modern 21st century is likely to intensify not diminish.

For the first time, Fenland is planning to count the number of migrant workers locally, and then factoring in, through police and other agencies, the number here illegally.

Fenland Council has set up a single point of contact through its one stop shops to advise migrants to counter 'misinformation by employment agencies on the need for registration.'

Mr Bailey says education, too, remains a challenge, particularly in Wisbech, where eight per cent of those attending Thomas Clarkson Community College is formed from the children of migrant workers.

Mr Bailey's report details a list of objectives which Fenland hope to achieve in the next three years to ensure "migrants are not exploited and that cultural integration takes place.

"This is really the underpinning theme around which all strategy should be designed."

Wisbech Citizens' Advice Bureau continues to be at the centre of the campaign to advise migrants and now represent two-fifths of their clients. Many complaints centre around unscrupulous gang masters and workers made to sign contracts of employment 'with no chance to have these translated, so they do not know what they are signing.'

The report's findings will form the basis for the wide-ranging implementation of the strategy which Fenland is expected to agree.

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