Sunday, February 04, 2007

Residents complain about influx of immigrants

At the "Local Diversity" conference in Birmingham, residents from small communities all over the UK got together to discuss how immigration is changing the face of Britain.

"It has really changed since I was a child, " commented Andrea Ladbroke, 83. "When I was a young girl Notting Hill was filled with wealthy families. Their large houses full of the comings and goings of old money. The local cafes filled with gossip from the servants."

Notting Hill, like other areas of London, and indeed many of Britain’s communities, has suffered from the influx of outsiders, says Mrs. Ladbroke.

"Well all the houses now are full of American movie stars or Pop Stars from northern towns. It just isn’t the same. They come here buy up all the property and take all the local broadcasting jobs at the BBC. What’s more you can‘t understand a word they say." she added.

It seems those long term residents that remain are dwindling in number and this is causing the traditional character of the area to disappear.

"Well, I feel sorry for the young people, they simply cannot afford a house unless they have had a BAFTA award winning show, or perhaps sold out Knebworth. I just don’t understand how they are going to get onto the property ladder."

Residents were not happy with the way the newcomers were integrating into local traditions.

"We still have the carnival but now it is filled with foreigners coming from places like St Lucia in the Caribbean," Andrea pointed out. "I have nothing against the Caribbean, I find it a wonderful place to winter." she added.

Henry Billingsworth, 76, from Prestbury in Cheshire said his small town had suffered a similar fate to that of Notting Hill, with the influx of residents from Portugal, the USA and Liverpool.

"You can’t cross the street safely, at my age, for fear of meeting your end on the front of a Ferrari or one of them big Mercedes off road cars," he said. "They take all the local’s jobs too. If we hadn’t let that Cristiano Ronaldo into the country then David Beckham might still have a job."

The influx of new culture has led to some improvements in the lives of the locals.

"It would be wrong to say there have been no changes for the better," remarked Mr. Billingsworth. "My small 2 bedroom semi is now worth £2.5 million and I never used to be able to get a Caramel Macchiato at 1 in the morning."

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