Memorandum submitted by Dr G R Smith (V4)
We have in Thetford, as well as other Norfolk
towns such as Dereham, a major immigrant problem.
We are aware that "gangmasters" began
the process of promising employment to foreign nationals, arranging
housing, transport etc., in local vegetable factories where long
hours and night work made jobs unpopular with local people. Several
houses in the town were occupied by up to 20 adults using a "hot
Previous, under normal circumstances with natural
growth, Thetford was struggling to keep up provision of its services.
With this influx of 700 Portuguese and all that it entails with
the demands on the town's present infrastructure (medical, police,
education, housing, sewage, roads) the strain is intolerable.
Thetford is already a recognized deprivation area and this is
exacerbating the situation.
Speaking particularly for my own practice, there
has been no extra funding to provide the care one should be giving.
The local population is being short-changed as my colleagues and
staff are spending a vast amount of time sorting the problems
of non-English speaking patients. We are therefore imparting a
two-tier system with the disadvantage to the Thetfordians. It
would, therefore, be extremely helpful if this current recruiting
campaign could be strongly discouraged.
There is increasing evidence of long term "sick"
which in turn puts a strain on the local hospitals. We are, of
course, aware that the majority are not illegal immigrants but
several meetings with Immigration, the Police and primary care
services have been unable to resolve the increasing difficulties
in the town.
Because of the nature of the problem, and lack
of control, we are powerless to improve the situation and it would
seem a possibility to put some restriction on the activity of
the gangmasters who have created the problem.
I should emphasise that we are unable to name
names and this evidence is no proof of the activity of gangmasters,
but we are aware that this influx of casual workers has flouted
our laws, disadvantaged our workers and strained our hard-pressed
3 April 2003