11:00am Monday 13th January 2014
VALE MPs say too much “scaremongering” has been going on in the debate about Romanian and Bulgarian migrants – insisting the area has nothing to fear.
Visa restrictions on people from the two eastern European countries ended on New Year’s Day.
The Government has refused to predict how many could come to the UK, lured by the prospects of better paid jobs.
Conservative MPs for Evesham and Pershore say there are concerns about the pressure they could put on schools and hospitals, but insist most of them will come to work, not rely on welfare.
Peter Luff, who represents Mid-Worcestershire, said: “The vast majority of Eastern Europeans who have already come here, like the Polish come to work, not claim benefits.
“The café at Evesham railway station was closed for years and years until it was opened and operated again under a Polish migrant. I accept there is pressure on schools and hospitals, and an issue of cultural change in our communities, but we should welcome them.
“Nobody would leave these countries to live in a cold council estate in middle England, so some of this language being used is very concerning.
“We should embrace them in Worcestershire.”
Back in 2004 experts predicted only a few thousand Polish people would come to Britain when the borders opened up, but more than 500,000 arrived.
There is estimated to be just over 17,000 EU-born nationals living in Worcestershire, but due to previous border restrictions, very few Romanians or Bulgarians.
West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin said: “In the local economy there are already a lot of Romanian and Bulgarian seasonal agricultural workers and I know local farmers find them hard working and reliable and are keen to keep them on.
“However, we also need to make sure that we reform the benefit system to make work pay for local unemployed people and ensure that people come here to work rather than to claim benefits and that is part of what this Government is doing.”
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