Britain’s immigration boom

Town hall chiefs yesterday condemned the Government’s immigration figures, saying high and uncounted numbers of new residents are putting too much strain on services.

A string of local authorities said few of the 1.5million Poles and other Eastern Europeans who came after 2004 had gone home.

Ministers say they arrived in Britain for only short-term stays and more than 700,000 have left, but councils in Peterborough, Slough and Westminster in London claim otherwise.

Supported by their umbrella body, the Local Government Association, they argue eastern European couples are settling down to stay and placing an intolerable burden on services.

Ruth Bagley, chief executive of Slough, said: ‘They may not be arriving as quickly, but the anecdotal evidence is that more people are still coming, and staying.’

Peter Hiller, Peterborough’s councillor with responsibility for social services and policing, said: ‘We have coped thus far but as immigration continues the cracks are beginning to show.’

In Westminster, borough leader Colin Barrow said: ‘The handling of migrant figures has been highly ineffective and at huge cost to local authorities.

‘Thousands of migrants are not being counted because of the flawed population methodology used by the Office of National Statistics.’

But Immigration Minister Phil Woolas insisted: ‘The number of Eastern Europeans leaving the UK is increasing and the number coming here to work is falling.’