The speed of cultural change


Residents of Boston, Lincolnshire give their views on immigration to the UK

The pace of immigration in Boston, Lincolnshire has left locals feeling disconcerted, but the town must prepare for more new arrivals.

Boston is an ancient English port and market town in the flatlands of Lincolnshire. But it is a town transformed by rapid and significant immigration from Eastern Europe. Where once there would have been the butcher, the baker and, quite possibly, the candlestick-maker, the High Street is now filled with Baltic supermarkets, Polish delis and Lithuanian off-licences.

As you walk through the old streets, you hear foreign voices - mothers pushing their children to nursery, farm-workers heading home after a day in the fields - and this rapid cultural change has made the town feel uneasy.

Police admit they "had their head in the sand" when considering the impact immigration would have on Boston.

A couple walk past shops catering for eastern Europeans in Boston, in Lincolnshire, eastern Englan

They admit they were too slow to spot the risks and now conduct regular community tension assessments. Police staff scan Twitter and Facebook and will intervene to stop rumours and misinformation spreading.

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People felt the town they knew and loved had been taken away from them”

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It was, though, the speed of change that locals found disconcerting. In 2001 virtually everyone in Boston was white British. Ten years later it was just 84% - a dramatic cultural shift that saw tensions spill over into protest.

Twelve months ago, 300 people gathered in central Boston to voice concerns at the impact immigration was having on their town. For some, it was economic - they blamed foreign migrants for the shortage of jobs and stretched public services following the financial crash. For others, it was cultural - they felt the town they knew and loved had been taken away from them.

New arrivals

There are clear lessons for the authorities considering how they should respond to the potential arrival of large numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians. Public agencies now meet regularly to consider the impact of migration on the community cohesion of the town.

Farm worker picking strawberries

At one local school, two-thirds of pupils are now from migrant households. Exam results are excellent here and it's seen as a model of good practice. But the prospect of yet more immigration without extra resources is a concern.

However, some local farmers and businessmen have a different view of how immigration has affected Boston. Before the East European influx, the town was already facing significant economic challenges. Many young people were leaving the area, the town was becoming older and poorer.

The arrival of keen, young workers helped some businesses to expand and the farmers' union has complained that local people are often reluctant even to apply for low paid manual jobs.

But Boston is exceptional. Although Eastern European immigration has touched almost every community in the United Kingdom, the impact has rarely been as dramatic as in this corner of the Fens. Nevertheless, the message from the town is that people must prepare for new arrivals, monitor their impact if they do come, and look for ways to deal with the unease that goes with rapid cultural change.

Mark Easton Article written by Mark Easton Mark Easton Home editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    304Europeans vehemently deny they are racists.In fact sometimes I don't think they know what racism really is.I think to them if they don't throw minorities into concentration camps and kill them they're not racists.You can't solve a problem if you don't accept that you have one. This is just one more reason Europe can never catch up to the US.The Us isn't perfect yet but there is real progress.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    All fat cat's fault, think again!
    Plenty of private individuals have used East European builders to renovate their homes and save money. And why not? If I legally offered half price petrol for your car, you would take it as well!
    The unelected EU took away our right of border controls. It is the EU sinking Britain, not the immigrants!
    Keep that in mind for the EU MEP elections next year.

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    The racism expressed on here is not surprising. As the son of Pakistani migrants I have realised it doesn't matter how educated you are there is still a glass ceiling for ethnic minorities in the UK work place. I have a Ph.D. from a world leading university and have struggled to find a basic admin' job in academia always being interviewed by English people with far less qualifications than I!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    I've always supported the licence fee. I'd hate to see ads on the BBC and I'd hate even more to lose the proms but the journalism at the BBC has gone from being biased to being downright insulting. I lived in Burngreave for 14yrs. I understand perfectly the consequences of mass immigration: I doubled my mortgage to get out of the dump. No amount of left wing ideology is going to outweigh reality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.

    I don't hear EUers singing Ode to Joy anymore.What happen, the honeymoon over so soon?It seems like just yesterday all Europeans were one with each other marching arm in arm into the endless sunny future of the European Union.Now they're at each others' throats.You don't want those so and sos in YOUR neighborhood? Some union that is. Brussels, I think there's a problem.Black Ops sent to Boston UK.

  • Comment number 301.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    For the EU to work as a centralised federal state, it has to undermine the national identity of individual member states. Ergo mass migration, multiculturalism & secularism are deliberate EU policy; the EU & our treacherous leaders have absolutely no intention of changing policy. It is not a democracy. The entire thing has been rigged to ensure that the British public have no say in the matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    The speed of change. The pace of immigration.

    All hypnotic words to make you skip the part where it's fundamentally wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    297"So one of your core values is the right to kill people in your own home."

    That's right.In the phrase "the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" the right to life comes first. This means if you have reason to believe your life is in danger anywhere, not just in your home, we have what we call "justifiable homicide" and that is not murder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    So one of your core values is the right to kill people in your own home. Very nice. The problem with that being a shared value that makes you American is that not every American believes in this unfettered right to kill.

    The fact is that nationality is never so simple and you have to be flexible but the problem in the UK is the growth in population which immigration has caused.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    Let the BBC replace British journalists with cheaper Eastern Europeans. Let's start housing immigrants in leafy suburbs. Maybe when the middle class left wing lose their jobs, their doctors' surgeries and children's schools are crammed with non English speakers, and their local council diverts all the resources towards the immigrants, they'll understand why the working class are so hacked off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    Immigration has not been given the blessing of the electorate. It has no democratic support. So stop it all now until the British people have endorsed it

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    Doug take your medication, the white race is not under threat of genocide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 293.

    292 "The reason I hate immigration to Britain is British culture will be destroyed"

    The culture you parents existed in and maybe you grew up in is constantly changing.How it changes depends to a large extent on who lives there.The European Project is to replace all national cultures with a European culture.By acquiescing and not objecting forcefully that is the future your nation is heading for

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    I would hate it if 50 million Nigerians moved to Kenya, it would destroy the culture of Kenya. The reason I hate immigration to Britain is British culture will be destroyed, it cannot be preserved elsewhere. Not only that but the white man is an ethnic minority on a global scale. Immigration to Europe will eventually lead to the eradication of our race; genocide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    284,286;I'm always amazed how little Europeans (includes Brits whether you like it or not) know about America (and of their own history too) yet how much they think they know.Take Justin Webb. He wrote a book called "Cheers America." He talks about it here;

    Before coming he admits knowing nothing about it.5 years here and he's an expert.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    The foreign food shops sell wonderful things which we are not used to and we can all broaden our tastes. I recommend the Czech and Slovak cuisines, but try whatever you can find.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    The Eastern Europeans generally:

    Believe in secular democracy.

    Do not claim a separate legal system.

    Do not demand our acceptance of inhumane methods of slaughter.

    Do not demand the construction of religious buildings out-of-keeping with our towns, nor cause noise nuisance with calls to prayer.

    None have caused mass murder on London Transport.

    I think Boston's fine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.


    I never said I didn't want you in this country don't twist my words. Who are you arguing for? At first you 'mewl' on about us not being proactive enough about immigration and then you 'mewl' on about being treat like an unwanted immigrant.Make your mind up. And I never said you shouldn't have an opinion, you said yourself you don't care about the UK. Please stop being insulting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    The reason E Europeans will do low paid work is mainly because of the EXCHANGE RATE.

    If they live in camps and send money home it's worth far more than here.

    Someone should invent a common currency.


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