“Dear Mrs.G”

This article is expanded from on a letter I sent to the Wisbech Standard on 26th April 2015.

I had to wait 2 days before responding.  I did not wish emotion to be my primary motivation, and whilst still angry with the language used, and the nature of the conclusions put forward, hopefully I have some sense of perspective in my reply.  I do not accept the starting point of Mrs.G’s views on humanity but understand the frustrations felt by many in the town  – but she seeks to take advantage of, to provoke, rather than heal.
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I have previously on the issues raised by Mrs.Gillick’s characteristic diatribe on immigration https://deanlreeves.wordpress.com/2013/01/30/we-will-only-succeed-together/ and that failure by government at all levels to attempt to manage such a significant social change https://deanlreeves.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/change-must-be-inclusive-not-coercive/
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It is not so much the impact of immigration which needs to be addressed almost a decade on.  More so it is what do we do now, and my position in the 4 years which I have been involved in Wisbech local politics is that there is no turning back.  Whatever views you might hold on the rights and wrongs of past decisions we can only move forward.
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I agree with many of the causes of the current situation – and Wisbech has a significant history of social deprivation – but by no means are we living in a crisis situation.  The nature of the town has indeed changed – and perhaps at a faster rate than previously – but change is a condition of modern society.  Technology, trade, culture and politics rise and fall, and with it so do our buildings, towns and the way we live.  As much about the nature of Wisbech has changed due to the shopping habits of the majority, and the policies of Fenland Tories – building retail parks around the market towns, as resulting from immigration.
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Our local economy is unbalanced.  We overly rely on industrial agriculture, food processing and now retail parks.  The majority of these jobs are low-skilled, low-paid and many are seasonal.  It should be clear that small market towns do not hold sufficient population to meet this demand but instead of encouraging sustainable organic growth of SMEs Tories chose to continue to pursue the “industrial” solution – presumably on the basis that it removes a lot of planning and delivery of assessments and strategies (until things go wrong at least).  
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Housing, education and health issues are again directly related to the economic issues.  Despite the lies perpetuated the majority of immigrants work, fewer as a percentage of population against British ever claimed benefits (and very few can now).  The taxes raised by these workers should have been recouped locally and spent appropriately they were not – this is not the fault of people going to work every day.  Similarly, the larger organisations in particular, who rely on imported labour should contribute resources and goodwill into the local communities directly impacted by the changes.  Yet so few have, and also no local political motivation to encourage such positive behaviour.
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Much of what is written about drinking in the park, crime and anti-social behaviour is not an every day experience, and is not by any means solely a migrant issue.  In any case these are certainly not sticks with which you attack a whole community for the poor behaviour of the few.   Well, reasonable people do not but those with another agenda have spent so much energy doing just that.  In my view just plain hateful is what it is.
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I got involved in local politics because of the degradation I saw it what was clearly a once grander town – and still holds many parts of beauty.  I saw empty shops, broken footpaths, litter and a disparate community – a failure of economics and politics.  This remains my motivation, to restore the buildings to a past glory and help to re-build a genuine community across out town.
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So, despite vulgar and non-delivered threats from UKIP politicians to “send them back” those who really want to move our town forward will see that “We are Wisbech” was a statement of nothing but the political reality.  This town, any town, is a sum of all the people who live here – it may take a generation before it is accepted but I know that there is a better Wisbech to come.  There is no going back to a past glory, imagined or otherwise.
Dean Reeves
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