Public has say on issues surrounding migration in Boston
THE public has had its first opportunity to comment on a new report looking at issues surrounding migration in Boston.
Boston Borough Council's overview and scrutiny committee carefully discussed in turn each of the 28 recommendations put forward by its task and finish group in the Social Impact of Population Change report.
Members of the public had been invited to submit questions and two residents, Rob Lauberts and Bob McAuley, were heavily involved in the discussions.
It was felt most recommendations were appropriate with slight tweaks but others such as recommendation 18, to promote Boston as a 'diverse shopping offer' and encourage European shop owners to make their stores more welcoming, were met with some confusion.
Cllr Carol Taylor said: "I don't know what a diverse shopping offer means – we haven't got that. When you are talking about diverse shopping, it's not about coming to buy someone else's food."
Mr McAuley, said: "I think if someone goes to a town for diverse shopping they expect a craft shop or clothing, not a can of Polish beer and a Latvian loaf."
And Cllr Mary Wright felt that it was up to local people to start using European shops more.
She said: "It's up to us to use, to integrate with these people and go into these shops. They speak English as well as we do."
Many speakers queried whether the many agencies needed to put the recommendations into practice had the resources to do so.
Councillor Richard Austin suggested a three-form resolution to ask the relevant organisations whether the recommendations were feasible to implement, how they intended to do it and whether the council could have ongoing progress reports.
Issues around employment were heavily discussed, with some people disagreeing with evidence given to the task and finish group by trade unions which said immigration doesn't have a negative effect on unemployment or work numbers nationally and locally.
Cllr Paul Goodale said: "We should be looking for European legislation to protect the local workforce by limiting the amount of migrant labour companies can employ."
He added that the Government should also be increasing the number of Gangmasters Licensing Authority staff from the present 60 nationally.
At the end of the meeting, several of those present congratulated the efforts of the task and finish group in pulling together such a complex report.
Further discussions on its contents will be held at the Cabinet meeting on November 7.
TWO 'ticking timebombs' for Boston were highlighted during the discussions on Thursday evening.
Healthcare professional and councillor, Gurdip Samra said although migration does come with healthcare needs, it was elderly care that would present the most challenges in years to come.
And the council's portfolio holder for housing, property and community, Councillor Mike Gilbert added: "There is also a time bomb in relation to single person occupation. We have clearly got to have more homes built.
"We need to bring more empty homes back into use and make better use of the housing stock.
"We need to encourage people to take in lodgers and do something about registering Houses of Multiple Occupation and landlords."