DUNCAN BARKES Immigration control – all talk and no action

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Last week’s immigration figures show the government has failed to get a proper grip on the situation, despite its pledge to do so.

As net immigration rose by a fifth, the number of foreigners living in the UK has passed seven million for the first time ever.

There has been a twenty-one per cent increase in the flow of migrants to the UK, while the amount of people leaving the country is at a six-year low.

Polls suggest that after the economy, immigration is one of the key issues for many people in the UK.

However, debate around this topic often takes place in hushed tones as there is still a fear that voicing concerns about immigration somehow makes you racist.

Utter rubbish.

A colleague of mine frequently uses the term ‘anti-immigrant’ to describe politicians, newspapers or people that do not share his belief of unlimited immigration.

This abuse of language is dangerous because it allows no room for debate or discussion.

I would not describe myself as ‘anti-immigrant’, but I certainly have concerns about whether this country can continue to cope with the current scale of immigration.

Our infrastructure is already buckling under the strain of an increasing population.

As is well documented, facilities and services across the country are being cut, so significantly increasing the number of people who need such resources is simply foolhardy.

On the run up to the General Election, David Cameron pledged to control immigration.

He was quoted as saying it should be limited to ‘tens of thousands’ every year.

To date he has failed to demonstrate how he intends to achieve this.

In the case of immigration from other EU countries he is of course impotent, but he could do something about non-EU immigration.

However, he has openly admitted that while in coalition with the Liberal Democrats it would be difficult, as Clegg & Co are very supportive of mass immigration.

So while political careers are created, an issue that matters to millions of people fails to be addressed.

A balance needs to be struck. Foreigners who possess skills and expertise that are lacking in the UK should be encouraged to live and work here for the good of the country.

In my experience, rational people have no issue with this kind of immigration.

But they do have concerns about people coming to live in the UK with no job, little money and no intention of trying to integrate into society.

As a broadcaster and columnist I try to steer away from covering this topic as it brings out ill-informed bigots on both sides of the argument.

But the problem is not going to go away without decisive action.

The current government is talking a tough game, but there is no real substance.

Tackling immigration has nothing to do with being racist.

It has everything to do with being fair to the people of this country.

* Please say no to a store too many

A final plea to the licensing sub-committee of Chichester District Council, who meet on Monday to discuss the application by the Co-op to sell alcohol as part of its plans to open a store on the Ridgeway Parade in Parklands.

Southern Co-operative has said it would not open the store unless it is granted a license.

I urge the relevant councillors to turn down their application.

To grant it would see the slow demise of a number of independent shops that are already serving the local community admirably.

I am not anti the Co-op, but the opening of one of its stores in this location could well resort in closed shops and lost jobs.