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The impact of EU migration on one Fenland town

Immigration is a key topic in the EU referendum debate. Photo: PA

Immigration is one of the key issues in the debate over whether Britain should remain in or leave the European Union.

The Vote Leave campaign says the current immigration system in the EU which allow free movement of all workers from the 28 countries is "immoral, expensive and out of control."

It means, Vote Leave says, "an open door to the EU while blocking people who could contribute to the UK coming from non-EU countries."

On the other side of the debate - the Remain campaign, Britain Stronger in Europe - say leaving the EU will not stop immigration to the UK.

They point to countries such as Norway and Switzerland - not in the European Union - but having to accept free movement as part of trade deals.

It is claimed that migrant workers settling here have changed the character of some communities. Credit: ITV News Anglia

In Wisbech on the Cambridgeshire-Norfolk border, it is estimated thousands of migrants have settled in the town but differing views on their impact on the community.

UKIP councillor Paul Clapp says there are 15-20,000 migrants there.

He said: "It was a quiet town. Most of the people were in work. They had land work. That's all gone now. That's all been taken over by the Eastern Europeans.

"You've got whole streets who will not leave their homes at night and come into the centre of Wisbech which is their town."

Wisbech is not a classic picture postcard town but it is famous for its Georgian architecture. Credit: ITV News Anglia

There are those who take a different view. Conservative councillor Steve Tierney said the economy of Wisbech has been boosted in part for immigrant workers.

He said: "Certainly 10 years there was a feeling that the town might be entering a bit of a spiral downwards, that things might be getting worse.

"But a lot of new people coming here and bringing their energy and their money and their input into the town has helped us tide our way through some of that. The town now has a positive feeling about it. It feels like it's on the up."

Click below to watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Claire McGlasson on the impact of immigration on Wisbech

Wisbech continues to be an attractive destination for EU migrants.

At a local job fair graduates from Portugal told ITV News Anglia they can make more money working in factories here than they can in skilled jobs at home.

It has led to claims that local workers are being priced out of the job market.

Half the pupils are Orchards Primary don't speak English as their first language. Credit: ITV News Anglia

There is also extra pressure on local services.

The Orchards Primary School is expanding to one and a half times its size.

Half its pupils don't speak English as their first language but the headteacher is positive.

"Amazingly it has a really positive effect because they have really good aspirations, they want to do well and it brings a little bit of competition.

"And they learn very quickly so you get accelerated learning for everyone."

– Nicola Parker, Head, Orchards Primary School

The Luton MP Gavin Shuker is campaigning for Britain to remain in the European Union. He says immigration clearly brings benefits to many communities but acknowledges that it can also put pressure on them.

The Essex MP Bernard Jenkin has long been a critic of the European Union and is campaigning for Britain to leave. He says Britain should be able to control its own immigration and you can't if you stay in the EU.

Statistics nationally tell us that that EU migrants pay more into the British economy than they take out. Although Brexit campaigners say it only works out at a pound per head of population.

In a town like Wisbech, the benefit or cost to the town's identity is a much more complicated calculation.

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