30 Apr 2015

Immigration Faultline: cheek by jowl on a street in Margate

Foreign Affairs Correspondent

Ethelbert Road in Margate is a truly globalised community, where immigrants and local Brits live side by side. Paraic O’Brien spent a week there, exploring the tensions around immigration.

If there is an “immigration faultline”, it runs right down the middle of Margate’s Ethelbert Road.

In one house, for example, a family of Slovakian Roma, who moved to the UK a few years ago, live next to a flat with a National Front sticker on the door.

A few doors down, a Ukip-supporting family proclaims: “Everyone’s fine down this street – everyone gets on with everyone.”

‘No problem whatsoever’

When the bottom fell out of Margate’s holiday market, old B&Bs started taking in families from social services around the country.

In recent years the eastern Europeans arrived. Around one-fifth of people in Ethelbert Road’s electoral ward are white non-British.

The street has its problems, but a local council task force has been tackling them head-on.

Mohinder Singh, who lives on the street and runs an award-winning restaurant, told Channel 4 News: “I have no problem whatsoever with anybody.”

The irony of Ethelbert Road is that the people who chose to live in this country, the Roma family for example, feel cared for – by each other and by Britain. It is those who did not have to make the choice who do not feel looked after.