Thursday, August 17, 2006

Bulgar Off! Says Evening Post Editor

Last weekend, Evening Post editor Spencer Feeney published a provocative leader calling for restrictions on people from the enlarged European Union.

He called for a debate on the subject, but has so far not published any letters on the subject. Well, this was my contribution and I am not holding my breath any longer:

Dear Sir

I am quite happy to talk about the movement of labour across Europe, but can we dispose of one thing first? The financial pressure on towns like Llanelli and Slough is caused only indirectly by immigration. The primary cause is the government's failure to respond to increases in population,as indicated by National Insurance contributions, when making council tax equalisation payments. Instead, it relies on census data which can be as much as ten years out of date.

The pressures would be the same if the new workers came from England, Scotland or other parts of Wales.

People coming to Britain from Eastern Europe to work is nothing new. Poles and Ukrainians augmented the workforce in South Wales, as well as other parts of Britain, as we strove to rebuild after the war. There was even a Ukrainian club in Morriston until the late 1960s.

There is clearly a need for new people. I am told that the Crymlyn recycling plant would have to close if it were not for the Lithuanians who are working there. One presumes that there are vacancies in Llanelli which would be unfilled if it were not for people coming from other parts of Europe.

We have benefited from the EU's concept of freedom of labour. Everybody knows about the brickies of "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet", who made money out of the construction boom in Germany. Not so well known is the commuting of Welsh men and women to work in the hospitality industries in Ireland, or the IT people from the UK who work in Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands.

We can't have it both ways.

In any case, it is probable that the economies of the ex-Iron Curtain countries will take off as the Republic of Ireland's did, after it acceded to the EU. Then we may see the flow of migration reverse!

Yours sincerely,

Frank Little


Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats said...

Since posting my message, I heard an interview with a Polish senator on "Woman's Hour". (See

She had been born in Manchester, but moved to Poland 28 years ago. As part of her visit on behalf of the Polish British parliamentary group, she was encouraging Poles who were over here to brush up their English to return, as there was a developing skills shortage back home.

- Frank Little

Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats said...

There seems to be quite a bit of Xenophobia about, complaints about immigration
seems to be a favourite with the Tory Tabloids in this country. Since the
Ratepayers get most of their political ideas from the likes of these tabloids
it?s not surprising that we have had anti-immigration comments and leaflets
from this loose affiliation of Tories in the town.

I notice that the Ratepayer?s former leader defended their leaflet that was
put out in Neath North during the Local Election Campaign, during this time
Cllr Paul Evans was regularly receiving treatment in the Oncology Department
of Baglan Hospital, I?m sure that he came across a number of Philippino Nurses
that were staff in the hospital at the time. It is probably due to the under
investment in the NHS during the 18 years of Tory Rule that we resulted in
a shortage of Nurses in this country, hence the importation of trained Philippino?s
into the UK, much to the detriment of the Philippines health service.

Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats said...

In the letters page of the Evening Post of 29 August 2006, there is confirmation from the top of our stand.

Huw Evans, Communications Manager
of the Tourism Training Forum for Wales, writes that, as locals appear uninterested in working within the [tourism] industry, businesses reluctantly employ overseas workers. Business tells us that without the staffing support of Polish workers in particular, our industry would grind to a halt.

Their research suggests they are skilled, motivated, reliable and polite and settle comfortably into the local community.

The Independent newspaper reports that, nationally, big employers are urging the government not to place restrictions on the immigration of workers from Bulgaria and Romania.