Immigration concerns raised by residents at Potters Bar election meeting
IMMIGRATION was undoubtedly the main issue of concern for Potters Bar residents who packed a community hall to hear their parliamentary candidates speak on Saturday evening.
Around 100 people crowded into the Elm Court Youth and Community Centre in Mutton Lane for an election hustings organised by Potters Bar’s Christian community.
With the Potters Bar Edition in attendance, Hertsmere parliamentary candidates James Clappison (Con), Sam Russell, (Lab), Anthony Rowlands (Lib Dem), Arjuna Krishna-Das (Green), David Rutter (UKIP) and Daniel Seabrook (BNP) answered questions on a range of subjects including faith and the voting system.
But it was the issue of immigration and its impact on the UK that clearly emerged as the most pressing topic for the audience.
Speaking during the at-times-stormy meeting, Mr Clappison said: “I believe some immigration is a good thing.”
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However, he stressed: “If we go on at the present level the population will reach 70 million by 2030.
“We are proposing a cap on migration which is the sensible and realistic course to take.”
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Mr Russell agreed that there was “good immigration”, but dismissed the idea of an “arbitrary” cap.
He added: “For a while now, inward migration has been falling.”
Mr Rowlands said: “I am proud to live in a country where we have always welcomed people from other countries.”
But he admitted immigration had caused some problems and said his party, if elected, would direct migrant workers to the parts of the UK where their skills were needed the most.
His idea, however, was given short shrift by the other candidates, including Mr Seabrook.
He said: “Eighty-four per cent of all new citizenship comes from Third World countries.
“There is no point in importing Third World problems into this country.”
Mr Rutter said that Britain’s withdrawal from the EU would allow it to take better control of immigration.
“Until we get out of the EU you are not going to do anything about it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Krishna-Das said immigrants had brought a lot of “positive influences” to the UK.
He added: “No party can have a credible policy on immigration without a policy on population.”
Following the meeting, residents were given an opportunity to quiz the candidates on a one-to-one basis.