To my astonishment the first trader I spoke to agreed with Daily Mail ‘terrible slur on my home town’

13:38 03 February 2012

Ellee Seymour

Ellee Seymour

Archant

I VISITED my family in Wisbech on Saturday – the very same town which “the Baltic Mafia is terrorising” – according to a sensational report in that day’s Daily Mail.

Update on Wisbech story and why I’d like to see personal success stories in print

IMMIGRATION Minister Damian Green is this week expected to outline the principles behind the government’s new ‘selective’ immigration policy that will give preferential treatment to investors, entrepreneurs and world-class artists, dancers, musicians and academics. Under the planned reforms”fewer but better” immigrants will be allowed to settle in the UK, with those who lack the skills to”help drive economic growth” or contribute to UK culture facing greater scrutiny.

*Instead of knocking my home town, I would like to see the media highlight personal successes stories about Eastern Europeans who have settled in Wisbech to highlight the positive contribution they have made to the local community. It’s not an underworld town, and I feel safe walking around there.

Driving through the town, I passed a coach with a Lithuanian number plate parked outside a factory. A new influx of migrant workers? Or potential drug dealers, as the Mail would have us believe.

I read the story and was shocked by two points: first, the terrible slur on my home town, with a Russian migrant quoted as describing Wisbech as rougher than Moscow; and second, the terrible demise and wasted life of 17-year-old Alisa Dmitrijeva, said to owe £15,000 to a drug dealer. Her badly decomposed body was found on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate by a dog walker in woodland near King’s Lynn, on New Year’s Day.

Latvian-born Miss Dmitrijeva was identified by comparing detail from her palm with records held. She was last seen in King’s Lynn, on 31 August, 20 minutes from Wisbech.

With a third of Wisbech’s 20,000 population now said to be Eastern European, and five reported murders from their community in the last two years, a Wisbech man felt compelled to write to the Daily Mail urging the paper to highlight the “desperate situation” in the town which he claims is being ignored by politicians for fear of being branded as racist.

Following its investigation, the Mail claimed that the “Baltic Mafia” was taking over English Fenland towns, terrifying local residents and ensnaring teenage girls, such as Alisa. One woman is quoted is saying she is too afraid to go out after dark as Wisbech “has changed for the worse”.

I thought it was sensational drivel, until I spoke to a very well reasoned trader in the town today who I respect and asked for his views on the article.

To my astonishment, he agreed with it all. Yes, he said, there were an incredibly high number of migrants in the town, and 30% wouldn’t be unreasonable. Yes, he said, there was an element of fear in the town and it was driving shoppers away. No, he said, he did not think the Mafia comment was exaggerated as he had seen Mercedes and BMWs with blacked out windows prowling the streets which were new to the town.

I asked the trader, why Wisbech? He told me that local gang masters advertise for workers in Eastern Europe, and some go to other towns like Boston, Spalding and King’s Lynn for work.

So I asked the trader for his solution. “Stop giving them our benefits. They even get child benefits for their children back home,” was the resolute reply from him and others in his store. Is it politically incorrect to say this? Or commonsense?

He was also quite definite that many Eastern Europeans were decent, hard working people, but there is a hard-core criminal element causing fear which hasn’t been nipped in the bud.

Wisbech people remain fiercely proud of their town, and many have not forgotten the drubbing it was given by the BBC and Evan Davis which claimed that locals blamed migrants for taking their jobs.

I also asked someone from Outwell who I met for his views about the article, and he told me he avoids Wisbech too as it had changed in recent years, preferring to shop in Downham Market instead.

This is a great disservice to our small businesses who are struggling to survive in today’s economy, but he was adamant that Wisbech held no appeal for him any longer.

One other part of the article that surprised told how during a five-day police crackdown on violent crime in the area and drugs raids, £40,000 of cannabis was seized and 25 people arrested for suspected offences ranging from knifings to burglary. Surely this kind of crackdown should be happening every day to stamp out crime! There must also be concerns from the Eastern European community about intimidation towards them as they fear reprisals from drug and crime gangs if they speak to police.

I guess I will always see Wisbech through rose-tinted spectacles, but clearly our politicians, council officers, police, traders’ associations, local people and the Eastern European community should be putting their heads together to discuss these issues. Every town has problems, and didn’t Wisbech have its fair share before migrants moved in?

Personal safety for all our citizens, and a healthy local economy, are vital for a successful community, and if there are very real concerns that they are at risk, they should be discussed openly.

12 comments

  • Good to see some balance brought to the debate. there are few that would disagree that it is essential for all parties to work together, and to move forward as a community. Very little is done politically to push for such an agenda, and too many communities stay within their own groups. It does not matter to most people where someone if from providing they work hard and make a contribution - it is these values we should support but also celebrate the many cultures. Where the law is broken though there needs to be suitable penalties, and this should include removing people from this country - I saw the Russian (non-EU) on TV and my immediate thought was "how and why is he here?". I am more concerned by the continuing extension of alcohol licenses then by immigration.

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    DReeves

    Monday, January 30, 2012

  • "nrg" - Thanks for the tip about Albania and Moldova joining the EU. I really thought things couldn't get any worse, but you've now disproved this. Hopefully 2 years should be enough time to sell my house and move out of this hell hole to somewhere safer. Maybe a wealthy Russian drug dealer would like to buy my house??

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    Norfolk and Good

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

  • As a 55yr old born and bred Wisbech man, I am disgusted to see how far the town has been allowed to decline. As i walk into town following the trail of discarded beer and energy drink cans and shopping trolleys, I enter the Town center via the "Old" bridge, where you are confronted with the horrendous gray slab flood defence wall with the old Belfast building, derelict, in the background. After passing some boarded up areas, and a couple of shops closing down or selling nothing but cheap rubish to migrants and local unemployed, I enter the market place itself, no longer the Hub it once was, Take away the charity shops and your left with very little. I walk about dodging mostly elderly drivers trying to park or pass each other whilst trying to miss the poorly parked cars. Listning to people as I walk I could easily be in any poor city of Eastern Europe, its like a parade of Prams and pushchairs and parents with cans of beer constantly gripped in thier hands. Wonder down Norfolk Street, and its unrecognisable as the quaint shopping street it once was, its more like a Warsaw Ghetto now, my wife refuses to go to that part of Town at all now. Walk back through St Peters gardens and there are more gangs of immigrants surrounded by strewn beer cans and loaves of bread. Walking back home, we go via the Freedom (?) Bridge to marvel at the light show our councilers have put on for us, even the traffic always seems to be stopped in all directions on the roundabout enjoying the display.

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    Noodle

    Friday, February 3, 2012

  • I concur with Ellee and truly hope any angerresentment with perceived apathy shown by those concerned ("Surely this kind of crackdown should be happening every day to stamp out crime!") is expressed towards elected representatives who must take action. The council with police support must take swift action and the press could responsibly promote positive aspects of glorious Wisbech. Negative publicity is most unfortunate but if that's what it takes for the township and law-makers alike to take note, so be it. Is it fair...of course not! If councilors fail local constituents now...well...the next election may not be the walk in the park they've been accustomed too.

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    Cynical Irony

    Monday, January 30, 2012

  • I concur with Ellee and truly hope any angerresentment with perceived apathy shown by those concerned ("Surely this kind of crackdown should be happening every day to stamp out crime!") is expressed towards elected representatives who must take action. The council with police support must take swift action and the press could responsibly promote positive aspects of glorious Wisbech. Negative publicity is most unfortunate but if that's what it takes for the township and law-makers alike to take note, so be it. Is it fair...of course not! If councilors fail local constituents now...well...the next election may not be the walk in the park they've been accustomed too.

    Report this comment

    Cynical Irony

    Monday, January 30, 2012

  • I am with the trader here i agree with the article. I go into Wisbech town at least three times a week and feel like a stranger in my own town. I sometimes feel that I am the only English speaker left. The park is a no go area, no more sunday afternoon walks there for me.It seems to be being used as a drug haunt and toilet. It is also intimidating to see the Eastern Europeans youths in town walking in groups of 45. Why are they not at work, if they haven't got jobs they shouldn't be here. Since when has it been allowed for cars to park on the pavements in the Market Place, this is happening all the time and the cars are foreign. Has anyone tried lately to get an appointment at the Dentist or Doctor!!!!. However, Fenland Area Inspector Robin Sissons has dismissed claims that residents are living in fear. When bought up at a community forum not one person said they felt more unsafe now than they did before. The Mayor Jonathan Farmer says the number of Eastern Europeans is exaggerated - only a fifth of the population of Wisbech is EE according to the electoral register!! (what about the thousands who didn't fill the forms in) He thinks the article was promped by one or two people with a racial axe to grind (lol) taking a pop at the EE and being DISLOYAL TO THEIR TOWN (how dare he. God help us because no one else seems to have a mind to.) I just want to know if they live in the same Wisbech as me or is there another one somewhere.

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    Not Superwoman

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

  • Hi NSall, even Supermodels get spots ;-) Wisbech is undergoing a thoroughly unpleasant shakeup. But its beauty remains. Skin-deep? Well lets see...Historical buildings like Peckover House, part of the National Trust has stood the test of time. The river with its developing marina last year saw an increase in COMMERCIAL fishing companies looking to the Port of Wisbech to refit their vessels because of the excellent facilities here. Regeneration of housing and a modern retail park on Cromwell Road not only tips the balance in favour of Wisbech as a shopping destination with its eateries, mutli-screen cinema and new retailers, its proximity to the Town Centre retains an old & new feel destination while creating jobs. With the level of investment taking place security will increase as funding will be allocated to look after vested interests of commercial enterprise. I agree local councilors and the police shouldn't have to wait till these giants with new money move in but hey, its taken more than four years for approvals to have been finally granted by the council. Yes, security should be stepped up for the park now that it has been flagged. Local tradesmenchambers of commerce should have placed pressure on the police to increase a visible presence since this area too has been identified as an area of concern. Looking at the bigger picture its only a matter of time before Wisbech shines again. I have little respect for sensationalist journalism but sometimes its the spark this creates that can do wonders when harnessed to apply pressure in lobbying local governments to take action. Its good to see so many level headed responses to this topic. There's hope yet...

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    Cynical Irony

    Thursday, February 2, 2012

  • I am a 29 year old who works full time and has done so for over 10 years in the same job. I have two children aged 4 and 9. I have a whole list of worries regarding Wisbech. 1. What has this town go to offer my children when they going to be looking for work? 2. Why are we not offering jobs to local citizens first and then EU members second. 3. Why can i not go into the Wisbech park without having to check for broken bottles of vodka and trying to avoid the gob from the pavements which EU people find is acceptable 4. Why should i always have to look over my shoulder when walking through Wisbech. I walked down Norfolk Street with my eldest son and he was so frightened he was crying!!!!!! He is 9 and telling me that it feels like we are ABROAD what the hell has happened to this town!!!!!!!!

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    Annoyed Local

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

  • With regard to the, now infamous, Daily Mail article, I am adding my two penneth to the debate. 1.Wisbech ceased to be a quaint old market town long before the arrival of migrant workers. 2.Where are the 'cobbled streets'?? 3. No Free Lunch! I mean? How can you employ migrant labour,rent property to migrant workers,or sell food andor other goods to migrant workers if there are no migrant workers? 4.If immigration is an issue of concern then it should be made an issue of concern at national level. 5. Personally, I don't like smoked sausage, I have no interest in prostitution or illegal drugs, I do not require, or yearn for, under-the-counter duty free cigarettes or anti-freeze enhanced vodka, so? the imaginary Baltic Mafia is of no consequence to myself. 5.What is of concern, to myself, is the Traffic Light Mafia that seem hell bent on keeping me a prisoner in my own town.

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    Joe Lynn

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

  • hi N&G...thought we'd arrive at lateral mindsets eventually ;) Firstly, why would anyone need to be wealthy to buy your house? Secondly and on a more serious note, isn't this the best strategy....bring down property values in an area that can only rise in value due to its historical buildings, multi £m developments and high sense of pride amongst those who still do really care about Wisbech. Don't let the short term despondency fool you. Even if moronic elements are oblivious to strategic thinking (you'd think), great things are on the horizon. Don't let these idiots discourage you. They habitually bully soft targets and its only a matter of time before their gravy train is derailed. If councilors wish to continually be re-elected - crime and immigration will inevitably surface to the forefront of their 'to-do' list.

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    Cynical Irony

    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

  • Things could rather get interesting in the Fenland area, when the new boys in town move in....Albania and Moldova are to join the EU in the next round of new members...2014.

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    nrg

    Monday, January 30, 2012

  • Is it any shock that the only National paper that reported this article is the right wing scaremongering comic known as the Daily Mail? Read something with some substance and you will be able to walk through life without prejudice and being scared of your own imperfections!! British people cause a lot more problems in the area than any other demographic.

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    Thomas Cross

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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