UTTOXETER’S residential growth plans will allow the town to cope with a potential influx of eastern Europeans after EU movement restrictions were lifted, housing bosses have said.
From January 1, restrictions on movement between EU member states were lifted to allow Romanians and Bulgarians to take up residency in the UK.
It is predicted this will see thousands making the trip across mainland Europe and the English Channel and start settling across the country.
This has led to concerns that housing, roads and schools will be unable to cope in several areas of the UK – particularly London.
However, Richard Grosvenor, the leader of East Staffordshire Borough Council, has reassured Uttoxeter residents his authority has accounted for projected immigration.
His authority has developed the local plan, which sets out how and where Uttoxeter will be developed during the next 20 years.
Mr Grosvenor said: “East Staffordshire is a welcoming community and I’m sure any new arrivals will be received with open arms.
“But I know there are a lot of concerns about housing and how the country as a whole will cope with the probable influx of Romanians and Bulgarians.
“Uttoxeter’s a very picturesque town and will no doubt be a desirable place to live for anyone coming to live in the UK.
“Having said that, I don’t predict it will bare any more or less of the brunt than Burton when people start coming over.
“As part of our local plan, we’ve had to take into account projected migration and immigration and our growth plans take into account the fact that our population will be significantly higher by the time they’ve but actioned.”
Tory Councillor Grosvenor said he was welcoming the recent and ongoing political debate about immigration and, in particular, related issues surrounding benefits.
New government rules will not allow immigrants to claim any benefits until they have been UK residents for three months.
Councillor Grosvenor said: “It’s really important that we have a constructive, serious debate about our immigration policy.
“It’s important that we can do that without people making accusations of racism.
“The debate is nothing to do with prejudice. It’s about fairness and making sure decisions are taken in the best interests of our country.
“Having said that, I’ve seen numerous examples of immigrants coming into our borough and making a really positive impact.
“I know some farmers in Uttoxeter who have hired Polish workers on their farms and have spoken very highly of the work they’ve done.
“From setting on the Local Enterprise Partnership, I know businesses in Uttoxeter are concerned about how to ensure workers they take on have the right skills.
“And if foreign workers are coming in with those skills, it’s definitely a positive thing for us in that sense.”