Daily Mail - Rural immigration trebles in three years
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Wed Jul 18 10:40:15 BST 2007
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Number of immigrants in rural England trebles in three years
By MATTHEW HICKLEY - More by this author »
Last updated at 08:23am on 17th July 2007
The number of immigrants in rural England has more than trebled in
the past three years, a Government report reveals today.
The "sheer scale and speed of immigration" is putting a big strain on
rural local authorities as they struggle to provide services and
maintain community relations, warns the Commission for Rural
It also highlights an exodus of young Britons from the countryside,
leaving behind an ageing population.
It warns the growing "age divide" between urban and rural areas
raises serious questions over the future of schools and healthcare in
>From 2003 to 2006, rural areas across England saw a 209 per cent rise
in migrant workers, as measured by National Insurance registrations,
up from 21,000 to 65,000.
The real figure is likely to be far higher, as some workers -
particularly illegal immigrants - do not register, and dependent
partners and children are not included.
The bulk of that increase followed the expansion of the EU in 2004,
which has seen more than 600,000 Eastern Europeans arriving in the UK
Although more foreign workers have settled in urban and semi-urban
areas - rising from 288,000 in 2003 to 514,000 last year - in
proportionate terms the countryside has seen a far more dramatic
The sharpest increase was in Herefordshire, where the number of
foreign NI registrations rose tenfold in three years, while eight
rural districts across the country saw sixfold rises in foreign
According to separate Home Office figures, the most popular
occupations for Eastern European migrants are in the hospitality and
But in rural areas, many thousands also work for labour gangmasters,
hired out to farmers to pick or process fruit and vegetables.
In farming areas such as East Anglia, which were previously
unaccustomed to high levels of immigration, this has led to marked
The commission's annual report acknowledges that the influx of labour
has contributed to "strong economic performance" in rural areas, but
adds: "The sheer scale and speed of immigration has also put a big
strain on rural local authorities, both in their ability to provide
services and ensure that new migrants are successfully integrated
into their host communities."
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the MigrationWatch think-tank, said:
"As the report recognises the scale and speed of immigration are
critical to our ability to integrate new immigrants.
"The present Government has allowed, indeed encouraged, the arrival
of two million immigrants over the last ten years, placing a massive
strain on our infrastructure and on our society.
"The first step must be to get the numbers down to a reasonable
A separate Government report on race relations earlier this year
warned that rural towns and villagers are now more at risk from race
riots than the northern industrial towns such as Burnley and Oldham
which suffered serious disorder in 2001.
In Boston, Lincolnshire, a huge influx of foreign workers has boosted
the population by 10 per cent since 2004.
Council leaders in some areas have warned that schools, hospitals and
social services are struggling to cope with increased demand, while
the British Chambers of Commerce has claimed that a generation of
young Britons face going straight from "education to welfare" because
they cannot find jobs.
Today's rural commission report also reveals that there are nearly
400,000 fewer young people - aged 15 to 29 - in rural districts than
there were 20 years ago.
The average age in the countryside is now 44, compared with 38 in
towns and cities.
Commission chairman Dr Stuart Burgess warned of a growing
"demographic divide", and said: "The loss of young people is a real
threat to the future diversity and sustainability of rural
"Much more needs to be done to retain young people and provide them
with opportunities and incentives to return to their roots if they
The study identifies the lack of affordable housing as "one of the
most serious, if not the most serious, problem facing rural England
A 'Service Desert' An estimated 233,000 rural residents live in a
'financial services desert', according to the report.
These are defined as areas with no bank, building society or cash
machine within 2.5 miles, and no post office within 1.25 miles.
The number of banks and building societies in rural areas fell by
around 5 per cent last year.
However, provision of cash machines was up by around 15 per cent.
There were "appreciable falls" in the provision of NHS dentists (down
20 per cent) as well as petrol stations, job centres, post offices
In rural areas only a quarter of people live within 2.5 miles of an
NHS dentist. Only 44 per cent are within 2.5 miles of their GP.
Vin de Yorkshire Thanks to global warming England and Wales now boast
almost 400 vineyards, including sites as far north as Leeds.
Earlier spring and longer summers mean mean more insect activity as
well as more demand for water extraction, leading to reduced river
flows, the commission says.
The carbon footprint of the average countryside dweller is slightly
higher than in towns, mainly because of the greater use of cars.
But the countryside is helping to tackle carbon emissions through a
sharp increase in the production of "green" energy.
The cultivation of energy crops - including wood and oil seeds - has
risen from 1,800 acres in 2003 to 230,000 acres in 2005.
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