Stop picking on town

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I HAVE been following the various spins in the media in recent weeks about Wisbech’s supposed decline into deprivation and find it fascinating that ill-informed opinion appears to be winning out yet again over reality.

The idea that the people of this town are either looking at Wisbech through rose-coloured glasses or are terrified out of their minds, gives the usual sensationalist impression that the people of Wisbech are governed by a plethora of emotions threatening to tear the town apart - even despite the truth that much of the information presented in the articles is factually inaccurate. So why pick on Wisbech?

The truth is the town is peopled by ordinary people just getting on with life in the best way under the most difficult circumstances to hit this country for many decades, just like everywhere else.

The truth is a young woman was tragically killed and her body dumped in Her Majesty’s back garden. Sadly people are murdered in every part of the UK and it’s terrible every time.

The truth is Alisa Dmitrijeva lived in Wisbech, among a large community of people from Eastern Europe, the vast majority of who are like the rest of us. They are hard working, they contribute to the local and national economy in the same way as we do, and they just want to be left in peace to get on with their lives.

We (as a society) have been picking on Wisbech for years and have used a variety of scapegoats to do it. The Eastern Europeans are the latest. None of those scapegoats have been responsible for Wisbech’s decline.

There has been two major blows to Wisbech that has left the town reeling. In 1969 Wisbech’s Rail Link was closed down, isolating the town in many ways and in 1974 Wisbech Borough Council gave the new Fenland District Council everything it possessed including its bank balance.

Both of these major changes have led to massive under investment in the town. We all know that, so the question is – Why carry on kicking the town while it is down?

It is equally true that there are many people who really do care about the town and put in a lot of time and energy to help Wisbech to begin to grow and develop.

Sadly there are some whose main ambition for the town seems to be to bring it into disrepute and, very sadly, it is those voices raised on the BBC and through the national newspapers that are being amplified instead of the voice of reason.

Let’s just stop picking on Wisbech shall we and get on with breathing life into the town, not kicking it at every opportunity.

But who am I to talk? I am an immigrant myself. I came here in 1956 at the age of five. I couldn’t speak a word of English.

I was bullied mercilessly for being a foreigner. My parents who came here in 1951 made a life here for themselves and for us children.

I came here as a British subject as I was born in Cyprus, but I was a stranger in a strange land, and truth be told, I am still a stranger in a strange land but I don’t get picked on any more.

I leave that privilege to my Eastern European friends as the latest in a long line of targets for the underlying discontent that under investment in the fabric and infrastructure of the town has created.

But even with all of that, why pick on Wisbech? All the issues of different people from different cultures living together is pertinent everywhere in this country, in Europe, in the world.

Can we please stop picking on Wisbech?