Wisbech is the second most segregated town in the UK with one in nine people in the town born in Poland, Lithuania or Romania

PUBLISHED: 17:18 28 January 2016 | UPDATED: 13:15 03 February 2016

Least integrated towns in the country

Least integrated towns in the country


Wisbech is the second worst rated town in the country for integration in new analysis by think-tank Policy Exchange.

PANEL: The Index reveals

The most integrated places: Amersham, Esher, Rickmansworth, Sutton Coldfield - tend to be prosperous suburbs or small towns around London and Birmingham with the largest minorities being successful Indians or Europeans.

The least integrated places, by contrast: Oldham, Accrington, Bradford, Boston, Wisbech, Spalding - are either the post-industrial districts of Yorkshire and Lancashire dominated by people of Pakistani heritage or the towns of Eastern England that have experienced large inflows of East Europeans.

The most integrated places tend not to have one single large minority group while the worst places invariably have a single group accounting for around two-thirds of the minority population.

Places with high proportions of Muslims tend to have high levels of residential segregation but a strong sense of belonging. They also tend to be among the most deprived.

Places like Wisbech, Spalding, and Boston tend to have proportionally high levels of East Europeans who are working but are working separately from the White British majority.

The more integrated the place, the greater the share of ethnic minorities in higher paid, managerial jobs.

According to figures one in nine people in Wisbech was either born in Poland, Lithuania or Romania. That compares to one in 79 in Fenland as a whole excluding Wisbech.

The launch of the Integration Index compares 160 places across England and Wales and shows the Fenland town only second to neighbouring Boston when it comes to poor integration of its population.

To mark the launch of its new unit on demography, immigration and integration the think-tank analysed the most recent Census date (2011), producing the best and worst places in the country from the view point of integration.

It compares 160 places with a minimum population of 20,000 and a minimum no-white British minority population of 15 per cent.

Most integrated towns in the countryMost integrated towns in the country

The data examined ‘identity integration’ - how English minorities living in that area feel and ‘structural integration’ - how well minorities living in that area mix with other ethnic groups (working together, living in the same neighbourhoods).

With other EU countries included, the number of people living in Wisbech but born in the European Union is one in seven, that compares to one in 55 in Fenland as a whole excluding Wisbech.

A spokesman for Fenland District Council said: “Like many places that have experienced high levels of migration, Wisbech has its issues and challenges. But there are also many examples of successful integration in schools, workplaces and elsewhere which show the positive contributions that Eastern Europeans of all ages make to the local community, both economically and culturally. It is a pity that all that good work is routinely overlooked.”

David Goodhart, head of Policy Exchange’s Demography, Immigration and Integration Unit, said:

The North Brink Wisbech. Picture; Matthew Usher.The North Brink Wisbech. Picture; Matthew Usher.

“Ethnic minority integration has shot up the political agenda in recent months and it is useful to know where the biggest challenges and the often quiet success stories actually are.

“As our index shows the integration picture is a mixed one but in some places people, of all backgrounds, fear that society is changing too fast and that too many people are living parallel lives. We know that people of similar backgrounds tend to cluster together but we also know that a good society needs a sense of trust and mutual regard that crosses social and ethnic boundaries.

“It is critical that this country retains its traditions of openness and individual rights and some sense of mutual regard between citizens. That is why the government should try to promote mixed communities.”

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