500 immigrants a year attracted to Brentwood's good life
THE number of overseas immigrants living in Brentwood is predicted to rise by around 500 each year until 2026, a new council-commissioned study has revealed.
The report, which predominantly focuses on housing needs across the borough, forecasts that two thirds of population growth within Brentwood comes from net migration.
In the city of Chelmsford, only half of population growth is due to people moving in from abroad, while in Maldon the figure is expected to drop below it's current rate of around 25 per cent because the local population is living longer.
Currently net migration stands at around 850 people a year in Brentwood, with around 560 people settling in the borough from overseas.
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The study, entitled "Heart of Essex Housing Growth Scenarios", and compiled by independent development economists Roger Tym & Partners, confirms the vast majority of the 560 people that move into Brentwood come from the 27 EU member states, as they are entitled to do.
But a number are choosing to relocate into the town from other parts of the world, although it is unclear from the report how many this is or is likely to be in the years ahead.
There are a variety of reasons why people uproot from their country of birth and choose Brentwood according to Sohal Dave, 30, who manages a cafe in the Baytree Centre.
He moved to the UK from Gujarat, India, ten years ago.
The father of one explained why people move away from London to Brentwood.
He said: "Brentwood is a very quiet, nice, area to live and there are better schools here so you can get a better education for your kids and I have found the people in Brentwood are so much nicer than in London.
"In the past eight years there has been very little crime."
Having moved to Brentwood in 2004, he revealed why he believes it is important to allow open immigration to the town and the responsibilities upon him as someone new to the area.
"I'm from India and since I came here I have learned the different culture and I respect people and I have good communication with them.
"I now have many friends from different countries, so I learn so many cultures.
"And that makes life better."
Jiarong Su, 28, whose father runs a takeaway in Ingatestone, manages the family grocery store in Brentwood High Street.
He relocated from China ten years ago and would welcome more people into the town.
"If there are more people coming into it, it will be great for the town," he said.
"In the past few years there have been so many shops closing down, but if there are more people coming here, that is more business coming and I do not care which country they come from, it's good news – as long as they work hard."
Afghanistani Ibbey Khan, who runs a mobile phone business on the High Street, moved into the area 22 years ago.
The 36-year-old says people from different cultures living side-by-side in Brentwood "enriches" its culture.
"It's a good thing that different customs and different cultures and races and religions work together here.
"It makes a society more enriched with different cultures.
"I can't see a negative side to it."
Father-of-two, Charles Nyimgha, 33, a newsagent worker in Brentwood High Street, moved here from Ghana.
"I think we have the right to try and live somewhere else.
"People want somewhere which is quiet, they want to come to an area like Brentwood that is quite reliable and where you can get peace of mind and a decent area for my children to grow up."
The report reveals that people living longer and UK migration are the other reasons for population growth in the town, which currently stands at around 70,000.
The population growth analysis with the study also shows two spikes in the trend – in 2004 and 2007.
On May 1, 2004 ten new countries joined the EU – Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. On January 1, 2007, Bulgaria and Romania signed up to the Brussels movement.
The leader of Brentwood Borough Council, Cllr Louise McKinlay, says she is not surprised people are choosing Brentwood when they move from other countries to the UK.
"Given Brentwood's proximity to London, which is the world's principal financial centre, I am not surprised to see there is an expected population growth from abroad.
"Our borough is well located, offers a good quality of life, excellent schools, along with a vibrant community and thriving High Street.
"There are a lot of reasons why people would be attracted to live here."
But according to Mick McGough, who is standing for UKIP in Brentwood and Ongar at the next General Election, the number of immigrants is an example of the Government's lack of control .
He said: "I would just say, given that under Labour we had mass uncontrolled immigration and the coalition Government has not acted to stop it, it's inevitable that the biggest rise in the population is coming from immigration."