More readers' thoughts on Wisbech BBC documentary The Day The Immigrants Left

PUBLISHED: 18:49 01 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:32 02 June 2010

Twelve British unemployed people took on jobs usually occupied by migrant workers for the BBC experiment in Wisbech.

Twelve British unemployed people took on jobs usually occupied by migrant workers for the BBC experiment in Wisbech.

READERS from across Europe continue to have their say on The Day The Immigrants Left, Evan Davis controversial TV jobs experiment in Wisbech. Click here to read more comments.

READERS from across Europe continue to have their say on The Day The Immigrants Left, Evan Davis' controversial TV jobs experiment in Wisbech.

Since opening our message board last week we have been inundated with readers' comments - many from those living in Fenland, some from people further afield.

Here are some of the latest comments we have received following last Wednesday's show, which saw 12 people take on jobs normally carried out by migrant workers in Fenland.

You can still tell us what you thought by clicking here. Your comments will be added to this discussion.

You can also vote in our web poll, asking whether the documentary painted a false picture of Fenland, by visiting our home page.

And you can see what other readers have said by scrolling down this page, or by visiting our first message board by clicking here.

WHILST I live by choice in Spain I have worked in Wisbech and my wife was born in Wisbech, so it was of interest to us when the BBC TV programme concerning the "immigrants" effect on local job opportunities was transmitted.
I had only gone halfway through the programme when I phoned my friend in the Fens and said how I was ashamed of being English. He agreed.
If the selection of persons who were out of work represents the true English attitude to work, then God help us. What a lazy, incompetent and work shy group they were.
To turn up late, not appear due to "being out late the night before", sickness excuses, just sums up the work attitude of the English.
I was astonished at the statement that "I have worked a full shift and know what its like to work full-time, but what we are expected to do, is more than tats". The ignorance of the potato packers was unbelievable!!!
I am sorry Wisbech, the pretty scenes of night time, Wisbech from the bridge, cannot compensate for those "work-shy" applicants. You have been embarrassed.
ROGER BATES
Ave de lo Canonico
Benferri
Spain

I WOULD like to know how these Farmers managed to get the work done before all these migrant workers arrived in this country.
ANON

I AM disappointed about this program.
I'm sure that the European workers do probably work harder than the local English workers. The thing is, what the program did not mention, is the fact the European workers work for roughly the same rate as English workers, however generally they live with four to five adults per household.
Obviously this means they share bills/rent meaning pound for pound they are better off.
Most English people/families only have two adults per household.
I'm sure if English people had the same amount of expendable money as the average European worker they would work equally as hard.
STEF

I WATCHED the programme in question and was more than a little surprised at the attitudes of some of those involved.
The carpenter, who had been working on the continent, seemed to resent people who were doing precisely what he did - i.e. going abroad to find work.
As for some of the others - were they really so stupid and lazy that they couldn't be bothered to turn up? Or was their "no-show" set up by the BBC?
The blokes in the potato factory were convinced the conveyor belt they worked from had been sped up when, in fact, it had been slowed to accommodate them.
I felt a little sorry for the lad who went to the Indian restaurant, in that Indian food is a little harder to get to grips with if you've not had much experience with it.
I found the asparagus farmer distinctly unpleasant, but the people who went to work for him showed up their generally lazy "I won't be told" attitude, so it was "six of one".
The only bright points? The head teacher's very positive outlook and the kindness of the Indian restaurateur.
What people fail to realise is that the migrants who do earn money (albeit often very exploited) spend that money in the area, so shops and other local businesses prosper and it has a knock-on effect for the good of the community.
MITCH MITCHELL
March

I'M not a resident of Wisbech (Manchester if you must know) but I think the problem with this programme isn't that it wrongly portrayed the people in the programme incorrectly, more the feeling that these people who selected for an agenda.
I refuse to believe that a 25 year old who had been unemployed for FIVE years is the best Wisbech and the surrounding area has to offer.
The other two potato pickers did fine. They were a tiny bit late on the first day but frankly, that's no big deal.
The two of them did initially express "strident" views on foreigners and I guess this is why they were selected by the BBC propagandists.
I felt sorry for the curry house waiter, as somebody said it's a skilled job so expecting him to be up to speed after one day is frankly, ludicrous.
The others were disappointing but they did produce doctor's notes so can be assumed to be ill until proven otherwise.
The carpenter proved himself to be better than the super duper eastern European.
That lad with ADHD seemed to be another selection driven by preconceived notions. The other asparagus pickers weren't that bad.
I think he said the average wage was £44 a day (min wage) so claims that Fenlanders were turning their nose up at £10/hour was shown to be the lie I suspected it was.
Also, the others were quite close by the second day and the motivation wouldn't have been the same anyway so was unfair.
Perhaps it should have been but you can't blame them really, knowing there was only two days of pay to be had, where is the motivation to help the well fed landed gentry?
Lastly, strange that they didn't choose an area with a larger proportion of ethnic British people isn't it? Or am I being unfair?
NEIL CRAWFORD

HAVING watched The Day The Immigrans Left, I disagree on Mr Dear's statement at Greenvale.
I worked there eight years ago when most of the employees where English. The only immigrants there at the time were in gangs.
I packed potatoes into sacks and had to lift them to be stiched up.
I found some of the immigrants where nice and some made out they did not understand English.
I would not want to have to go back to work there now as I would feel a immigrant in my own town.
I think that's why English people do not apply for a job there.
SUSAN WILDING

HI, this is Ash from the BBC documentary.
The only thing i want to say is that the BBC, as well as the Wisbech Standard take the p***.
I have found work, I have wanted to work for the past six months that I've been on Job Seekers' Allowance.
I can safely say im not stupid, I left school with nine GCSEs, seven were C's thanks. Get your facts right.
Why don't you little newspaper journalists stop being little girls running about writing storiess about people behind their backs. I will be making sure I get my own back for you writing in the paper about me don't you worry.
ASH
Editor's note: We have written to Ash inviting him to meet with the Editor and team at this paper - and have suggested he might like to become a guest editor for an issue. We are waiting for his response, so please, Ash, contact us again.
In retrospect we agree our diary column probably portrayed you unfairly and we apologise to you and to your family.

AS one of those who have suffered the indignity, the stresses, the misery and financial hardship caused by unemployment I was disgusted with Evan Davis' unbalanced and biased BBC documentary.
The programme conveniently forgot to mention the reason why the 3,000 European migrant workers choose to seek employment in our region.
The average wage in Poland is £200 per month, working a 40-hour week. In the UK the minimum wage is £5.80, you can earn £1,000 per month - five times as much.
Who would deny these legal migrants the opportunity to better their lives for themselves and their families.
Unfortunately this economic benefit is only one way.
In my experience most of the legal migrant workers I have met are hard working and decent people, however there is good and bad in all sorts.
The programme highlighted a third of the 12 "chosen" for this experiment from the hundreds of applicants, who did not show but failed to mention the migrants that continually flout our drink driving laws and apparently can't afford car tax and insurance which is often reported in the local press.
In the programme Evan Davis walked into an almost deserted Jobcentre in the town and identified several "entry level" jobs available for unskilled unemployed workers such as myself.
He mentions a job for a driving instructor - not unskilled, a florist/delivery driver - which is permanent but only for 16 hours a week and is not unskilled, a labourer - which is unskilled, has a wage of £5.80-£6 per hour, however this position is temporary.
Presumably Mr Davis has no idea of the hassle you have signing back on to Job Seekers' Allowance after accepting temporary employment.
I was astounded at former headteacher of the Nene School Mrs Mardle's comments "nobody suffers, everybody gains", concerning the fact that the school has the highest proportion in the area of children with English as an alternative to their main language and as a result has had to employ extra staff.
Mrs Mardle gave the impression that this has not had an adverse affect on the school. It was suggested that Mrs Mardle was seeing things through rose tinted glasses, I suggest Mrs Mardle was wearing blinkers.
I congratulate most of the local people who participated in this so-called experiment, especially single father Paul who also confronted the arrogant immigration minister Phil Woolas on the BBC2 Newsnight programme.
The gaffe-prone Mr Woolas admitted that his own children had suffered due to the influx in immigration and accepted the influx of migrant workers has taken a toll on local communities and services.
The BBC documentary highlighted the plight of employers like Namor Ali who commentated that the government recently made it harder for non-European migrants to work here.
To get the full Indian experience at an Indian restaurant you expect to be served by Indian staff and have the food prepared by Indian chefs, or is this not politically correct?
The programme concluded that immigration was good for local employers, however at a cost of overlooking the needs of the unskilled and unemployed, who need better training to get off benefits.
KEVIN ELLINOR (UNEMPLOYED)
Wisbech St Mary

I WATCHED the programme and felt that it was biased in favour of the migrant workers.
I think that like-for-like workers should have been used e.g. the program should have used both British and migrant workers, both inexperienced to both be trained to do the job.
I would also like to see which workers were rejected for the programme as, not wishing to insult the British workers, I felt they were not the best candidates on offer.
My occupation is a taxi driver and any British passenger I carried were making the same comments.
I must say that my opinion of the BBC has gone down in my estimation.
I do not wish to disclose my name or address as Fenland District Council seems to be picking on any reason to repirimand taxi drivers at the moment.
ANON

I WOULD be surprised if no-one else picked up on the documentary last week that might have given the viewer the impression that the Wisbech unemployed were not picking up work for the lack of wanting.
How would anyone be able to get to Mr Aveling's asparagus field, miles from anywhere up a single lane track at Flagrass Hill, or to the potato factory at Floods Ferry where most of the workers arrive, hand-picked by gangmasters in their mini-buses?
Anyone who has been involved in TV work will tell you how documentary or game shows can be 'doctored' to attract the viewer.
I agree that there are, due to benefit manipulation, many who don't want to work. But the producers of this programme could have done more to show than one side of the story.
I have given part-time jobs to many unemployed in March and found them 'flooding' into work and have been more than a match for any immigrant, arriving on time for a fair wage and working with a sense of humour at a level that I could be proud to have as my team.
JIM SAMUELS
March

AS an employer, the programme has not surprised me.
I have people contacting me for a job, who don't even know what they are applying for and/or have been told to ring up or lose their benefits.
I think that a high number of people on the dole are unemployable due to them not wanting to work.
SHARON WHEATON
Hatfield
Hertfordshire

I HAVE found this documentary to be a true and accurate record of employment in Wisbech.
For all the people who have commented that it isn't true, can any of them tell me how many times they have waited for staff from the UK to turn up at 5am in the morning?
From the prospective of an employer, I have found Wisbech people to have lost the old fashioned work ethic.
In the olden days you would be proud to have a job, not now as people queue up to sign on. How degrading. I even cleaned toilets for years as I did not want to degrade myself by signing on.
How come a foreign national can arrive in the UK, find accommodation and a job within a few days, but people from Wisbech pretend to look for a job and continue to get benefits?
Without the foreign nationals in this country, there would be no fresh vegetables on your tables, no food in the supermarkets.
Most people don’t even realise that foreign nationals have to pay to work in this country, but most Wisbech people want to be paid for not working.
SUSAN BISHOP
Local employer

AS I watched the BBC programme about Wisbech workers I was horrified at the way the locals were portrayed.
It really makes me angry at the way government types keep saying that the immigrant workers are so good for our economy. They may be a cheap alternative to using local labour but what about all the benefits they get from our economy?
Many of the immigrants are on the dole and spend most of their time getting drunk, urinating in the street, throwing beer cans and other rubbish into people’s gardens.
Look through the pages of this paper, on a weekly basis, to see how many foreigners are prosecuted for drink driving, with no insurance etc. Sit in any local supermarket car park and see how many foreigners come out of the store loaded up with as much alcohol as they can carry. Take a walk through our park any morning and see where all the empties have been dumped.
What about the family allowance the foreigners are entitled to and can still keep claiming even when they go back to their own countries. Most foreign workers will freely admit that they have come here to earn money to send home to their families.
How can all this be good for our economy?
Then the BBC have the audacity to make a programme to make the locals look like a bunch of morons.
The young lad who was working as a waiter in the Indian restaurant was dropped in the deep end, with no training and expected to cope, on his own, doing a job that usually has two or three people doing. That was not fair.
I feel sure that if they selected some locals who had recently been made redundant and have a mortgage and families to support then they would have seen that the locals could work just as hard as the foreigners.
TOM READ
Wisbech

I WAS born and still live in Wisbech. After watching the BBC show concerning the immigrants in our small market town, I thought the show didn’t show the true picture and the effects these people have put on our town.
I agree that some of the English workers were a bit of a let down, but not all of them.
Let me point out the other side. They flaunt our laws by drink driving, cars not always taxed, MOT or insured. They drink in the town from bottles, getting paralytic drunk, spitting in the streets, urinating anywhere.
There are multi-lettings of houses, I live next door to a house which at times has had 14 people living there.
I have had to call the council several times to have the rubbish removed because they don’t put their rubbish out for collection. It is left to rot with a disgusting smell. I have had rats for the last three years in my garden and in theirs.
I have also had all sorts of other things thrown over my garden, but daren’t say anything because we did once complain because they were throwing knives into the fence. The following morning the mirror on our car had been smashed.
On Saturday there were three or four young foreign lads walking across the market drinking out of cans, drunk as lords, shouting and couldn’t walk in a straight line. This was at 9.30am.
I know they are not all the same but if they are going to live in our country they should be made to keep the laws as we have to.
ANON

WITH regards to the farmer's wild claim that he has a migrant worker who can pick half a tonne of asparagus in eight hours.
This migrant’s name must be Clark Kent and comes from Smallville USA. As when you do the maths you can see it not possible to do this.
There are an average of 35 asparagus tips per kg. Multiply this by 500 = 17,500 asparagus tips. Divide 17,500 by eight = 4,000 picked in an hour. Divide the 4,000 by 60 = 66.6 tips picked in a minute (less than a second per tip).
I and others would like to see this person in action.
K ALEXANDER-DUGGAN

IF you have never done land work it is hard. The migrant workers had months of doing it so they knew what they were doing.
Also, the programme didn't mention a lot of the good things they were told – it was cut out I know a person who was interviewed.
It was all a set up.
JULIE PEARCE

THERE is no way the programme made was a true picture of Wisbech.
I have now been a resident of Wisbech for 34 years and have built up a successful business over the years.
We employ 12 British people and they work very hard and are reliable. They all spend money in the Wisbech area; the migrants send their cash home.
What did we do before they came? I will tell you. Wisbech was a very successful town, full employment which was also spent in the town.
Also, some of the builders and larger companies employ the immigrants purely for cheap labour.
Evan Davis (no relation thankfully) was very left wing as is the BBC. Davis should come back to Wisbech and view some of the successful small companies to test their workers.
I would put any of my employees up against any foreigner. If Mr Aveling wants a contest please get in touch.
ROBERT DAVIS (POTATOES) LTD
Barton Road
Wisbech St Mary

THE TV programme The Day The Immigrants Left was more like a party political broadcast on behalf of the Labour Party, to try and convince us all that immigrants are good for the economy! Sorry Labour, but I don’t think many people bought it.
Those who employ immigrants may gain financially, as do some landlords by cramming them in their houses like sardines.
No doubt the supermarkets also prosper, especially in their alcohol sales; the evidence of which often appears in the Wisbech Standard under the heading “…caught drink driving,” – something else they are better at than us!
Unfortunately, it’s the taxpayer that picks up the tab at the end of the day.
Must close now, as I’m off to Poland to look for a job.
ADANUF OFEM
Wisbech

I WAS disgusted by the attitude of the young people offered work in Wisbech. I support 100 per cent the employers who prefer migrant workers.
Why should employers employ people who don’t turn up or are forever having to have breaks for cigarettes?
In my young day if you refused to take work offered by the employment exchange your benefits were stopped.
You worked or wanted. Now it is you don’t work and you don’t want.
These young people should not be paid for playing electronic games and giving feeble excuses for not turning up.
As a pensioner I have just been awarded a £2.40 rise from April 6. I wonder what these layabouts are given each week.
MARGARET HARRISON
Wisbech

I WATCHED The Day The Immigrants Left on BBC1.
After watching the programme I do no blame Greenvale or Victor Aveling for employing immigrants. The petulance of those young people.
“Oh, I can’t do this” I heard one say. What did he do but walk off in a strop. Can’t be a true Fen Tiger – they do not do that sort of thing.
How many jobs did the Gypsies lose as a lot of them used to work the land? Was that through immigrants or people wanting too much money or mechanisation.
I would like to ask the residents of Wisbech how many of you are actually Wisbech born. How many of you out there came to the Fens from the cities of England.
Don’t grumble if others are willing to do the work that you do not want to do.
This applies to other people as well as the residents of Wisbech.
WENDY NOBBS
Doddington

I WATCHED the program, but the result was expected. The presenter had a viewpoint, and the programme was designed to support his own prejudice.
The selection of subjects was designed to give the result that was planned.
Most of the jobs were seasonal, and I noticed that the asparagus field was near the end of the season, so the crop and the picking was sparse.
One cannot generalise about immigrants. There are those who wish to get on, and ultimately bring their own families and settle, and the others who come here because their past record makes it better for them to leave their own country of birth.
After I took early retirement, some years ago, I obtained temporary work through personal contact with employers. I had to sign on, but received no help whatsoever from the Jobcentre, which had lists of non-existent jobs on its notice board.
I went on one of the courses on how to apply for a job: CV writing etc. All the people on the course were better educated and qualified than the person running the course!
I managed to keep occupied and fully employed, and busy, until I reached actual retirement age, but only through my own efforts and putting myself on suitable databases. I presume that things have not changed.
JOHN PEMBERY

WE really should be saying “thank goodness for the migrant workers”.
I don't think those guys Evan Davis managed to get into the programme, would be as embarrassed as I was watching them.
Four of them seemed intelligent enough but the others were either just plain thick and didn't want to work.
I feel sorry for the people in Wisbech who are genuine hard workers, as it certainly did not do much for the image of Wisbech.
Where on earth were Ashley's parents to let him be like he is? He couldn’t put his own tie on or read a menu!
His parents should have made sure he could read and should feel guilty their son was made to look like an idiot. I genuinely felt, and still feel, sorry for him.
The guy packing the potatoes couldn’t even count to 12 and tried to put the blame on the migrant worker who was with them.
The 'chippies' were obviously good at their jobs and wanted to work, good luck to them.
But for those who didn’t want to work properly, or at all, stop their benefits and especially the long-haired lad who preferred to be on his X-Box.
I regret to say your article was not strong enough to satisfy those of us who will do any job at any place if necessary.
Still working OAP.
GW HENNIGAN
Costa del Whittlesey

I’M sure the paper has had enough of the immigrant workers debate. I just wanted to add one thing.
This great Eastern European ethic we hear so much about apparently includes setting up brothels, shoplifting vodka, people trafficking and drink driving without any licence, tax, insurance or MOT. The Wisbech Standard in the last two years alone has reported more than 50 incidents of uninsured drunken immigrants driving on our roads.
I’ll stick with the British ethic thanks; the one where I abide the law.
If the immigrants don’t make up that much of the population they certainly account for a disproportionate amount of crime.
ANON

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