An influx of hundreds of thousands of foreigners is fuelling social tensions in parts of the country which were totally unprepared for large-scale immigration, the Government has admitted.
Hazel Blears, the Communities and Local Government secretary, said teams of Whitehall officials were being sent to areas where there was "friction" caused by the arrival of large numbers of foreigners.
A Government study looking at the social impact of migration found that new immigrants to the UK accounted for nearly half of the population growth over the past five years.
Some 860,000 people swelled Britain's population from European Union countries, as well as Commonwealth and other states, it said.
It acknowledged that the scale of this migration had increased public concern in some parts of the country which were unused to large communities of foreigners. Schools and hospitals were often hardest hit.
The report - Managing the Impacts of Migration - A Cross-Government Approach - found large scale migration "has affected many areas with little previous experience of large migrant communities".
It said: "In some places it is the pace and scale of change which have an impact on local communities and services", while "other places experiencing significant migration for the first time may not have the institutions and programmes in place to help them manage that change."
Particular pressure was being felt in schools and hospitals, where migrants were failing to register with their local GP and instead going for basic treatment to Accident and Emergency departments in hospitals.[...]
Miss Blears said she was sending in specialist teams to help some areas cope with the extra pressures on services.
Three experts from Miss Blears' department are starting work at Breckland district council, in Norfolk, this summer. Breckland council saw its population rise by more than 1,300 in 2005/06, almost entirely due to the arrival of immigrants from Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Portugal.
Miss Blears said: "The change in the population has caused some friction and some tensions there. And they have had a few incidents. We are sending in some specialists who have a background in grassroots activism.
"They want to learn from the good things that are going on in Breckland but also help to build new relationships and make a better atmosphere in that town."
As Ronald Reagan once said, "the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help'". I can't help but hear those words as I read about Blears' proposals.
After all, who exactly are these "specialists who have a background in grassroots activism"? Are they anything more than common or garden race hustlers? Does their "grassroots activism" consist of anything more than whining about "racism" to anyone who'll listen (and most who won't)? Because I find it rather doubtful that sending a trio of Trevor Phillips wannabees to Breckland is going to improve the situation.
In any case, it seems that no one in the present government is able to recall the adage, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Anyone with at least half a brain (a category which, I admit, may exclude most Labour ministers) ought to have foreseen that immigration on the unprecedentedly large scale presided over by Labour would be likely to both put pressure on public services, and create social tensions. As such, I would suggest that the obvious solution would have been to refrain from opening the borders to all and sundry in the first place. But none of this seems to have occurred to Labour. As I have previously remarked, the shortsightedness of the left when dealing with immigration and its attendant issues really is astounding.