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Makeshift tents, garden sheds, hate crime… still migrants feel its better than home

Lack of government funding for essential services makes life tough
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17th August 2010: Migrant workers in East of London live in makeshift tent encampments, even in garden sheds. There is lack of government funding for essential services and an increase in hate crime, but they still insist the conditions are better compared to their own country.

In Peterborough, migrants continue to struggle for survival in makeshift tent encampments or in garden sheds. Some others exist in shoddy, unregistered accommodation.

BBC Look East found the conditions woeful as it examined the issues encompassing immigration and migrant workers in the East of England.

It found some of the camps were well camouflaged in the undergrowth. But in the middle of Peterborough’s busy Boongate roundabout, tents were pitched in and the occupants were adamant against moving.

Yet, despite the hardships they said the conditions were still better than in their own country.

The past five years have witnessed a surge in their numbers. In fact, the number of migrant workers in the eastern region has shot up by 60 per cent. The population in the eastern region in the past five years has risen by 138,000.

In Peterborough, one in every five workers was born overseas. The multi-ethnic culture can be gauged from the fact that at Fulbridge Primary School in the city, pupils communicate in 27 different languages.

According to head teacher Ian Erskine, the school was being compelled to turn away a family daily as so many people wanted to enroll their children at the school after moving to the areas.

For catering to the increasing demands, local MPs have asked central government for more funding to cover increasing costs of education, healthcare and policing.

Conservative MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson said Cambridgeshire has to bear the burden and has a pretty rough deal.

As of now housing officers from Peterborough City Council have found that many migrant workers were living in unsuitable conditions in rented accommodation. Several were even putting up in illegally overcrowded houses

The private landlords were exploiting foreign workers, many of whom did not know their rights and struggled with the language.

As locating unregistered properties and tracking down landlords was a slow process, council’s enforcement officers usually found themselves relying on the tenants for information on landlords and this often required the use of translators.

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