Feelings ran high at the Wisbech immigration protest earlier today (Saturday) but it went off peacefully.
Around 120 people gathered in Wisbech park for the protest, according to police figures, which saw both organisers and members of the public speak about their views and experiences.
Sharon Jardine, who heads the ‘Wisbech Immigration Issues’ Facebook page, said the protest was “very positive”.
“We are all just decent human beings with something to say,” she said, “and I think we’ve been heard.”
Speaking earlier to the gathered crowd, she told them how pleased she had been to find a group of people on Facebook with the same views, people who were unafraid to speak their minds about the issues surrounding the high number of immigrants in the country. This group were in Boston but its success led her to set up a similar group for Wisbech.
Mrs Jardine said: “At last Wisbech was shouting that we’re not happy.
“I want to say to Mr Cameron, move us from the EU quick smart. I want him to see how the people of this country are fed up. We are being treated like second-class citizens.”
Her comments were met by increasing support from the crowd, with spontaneous clapping and cheering that increased in volume as the demonstration went on.
But not everyone agreed with what was being said. Leverington pensioner Elizabeth Davies pushed her way through the placard-wielding protestors to confront Dean Everitt, who organised the Boston protest, and Sharon Jardine.
She shouted at them but struggled to make herself heard above hecklers from the crowd, accusing them of being racist towards the Eastern Europeans.
“We are not racist,” Mr Everitt said. “We blame the government. We’re not saying they shouldn’t be here.”
He was backed by Mrs Jardine who added: “We have no issue with hard-working immigrants.”
“These people are our friends!” Mrs Davies shouted, to jeers from the crowd.
Mr Everitt criticised the EU and said it was time we “started fighting back”.
He said: “We can do it politically. We can stop these issues before they start, just by voting the right way.”
Members of the public were also invited to speak and the message they put across was clear – they are tired of the issues they believe the Eastern European community is responsible for. Several people spoke about anti-social behaviour, drinking, lack of jobs and pressure on hospitals and schools.
John Goude, who has lived in Wisbech for about five years, said: “People drink all day and night in my road. They don’t care what they’re doing.
“I have been in touch with the police numerous times about speeding up and down my street, but they haven’t got the time or the resources.”
Ellie Campbell also complained about the lack of action from the police and the council. She said they have problems with people using drugs where they live and used needles are being thrown into back gardens but nobody will do anything.
Former business owner Pinky Parlett said he was now out of a job and said: “If it doesn’t stop, it will just get worse and worse. There is no work for ordinary people.
“At the end of the day, something needs to be done. If the government is not listening to us, the people, who are they listening to?”
Victoria Gillick, whose husband Gordon has just become a UKIP county councillor, was very vocal about the anti-social behaviour in the town centre and the high number of licensed premises. She accused the council of being “wimps” and said people need to talk with their votes to get changes in the council.
Following the protest, police protest liason officer Garry Webb said he was pleased with how it had gone and it was a “successful demonstration” from their perspective.
• For more from the Wisbech immigration protest, see Wednesday’s Citizen.