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Police & demolition men go into battle at immigrants' vi

#1
A sleepy English village awoke to Greek music blaring from a Mediterranean-style villa yesterday as police and demolition contractors became involved in a stand-off with migrant workers.

Officers had a high-pressure water hose turned on them as they attempted to force entry through a makeshift barricade of wooden pallets.

Two arrests were made, including Alan Garrard, the gangmaster, who has developed the property for the past eight months from a two-up two-down house, without permission.

As he was hauled away in handcuffs "to prevent a breach of the peace", missiles including building blocks and eggs were hurled from the veranda above the swimming pool.

One man, wearing a T-shirt with the word "Security" across his chest, appeared to attempt to ignite a large gas canister and tied a wire noose from the wooden ceiling.

Attempts by interpreters to use loud hailers to ask the migrant workers to come out proved futile as the volume of the balalaika music was pumped up even louder and three international flags fluttered from poles on the balcony. As tensions mounted, a local Methodist minister decided to walk into the property and negotiate.

The Rev Maurice Perry's intervention paved the way for a peaceful solution. The 27 Lithuanians and Latvians were allowed to leave with their meagre possessions in suitcases, holdalls and bin liners.

All were processed by immigration officials and found to be legally entitled to work in Britain, but not to public funds. Last night they were being offered temporary accommodation in the village hall.
69 High Street, Gosberton
69 High Street, Gosberton, where an extra storey had been built to house migrant workers

The drama unfolded in the conservation area of High Street, Gosberton, near Spalding, Lincs, where hundreds of workers have been housed at number 69 by Mr Garrard since April last year.

While apparently flouting planning and building regulations, he has built an extra storey on converted outbuildings to create a Greco-Roman effect, applying beige render to the entire exterior, and created a swimming pool and water garden.

South Holland district council served four enforcement notices on him last June and also obtained a court order for him to stop work immediately before deciding on yesterday's direct action.

Demolition contractors began swinging hammers after the last occupant left and the systematic removal of the unauthorised extensions will continue today. Workers from Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Greece are believed to have paid up to £400 each to get to Britain with the promise of jobs and accommodation.

They are usually paid low wages in the flower industry in a part of Lincolnshire that has thrived on workers from abroad for 150 years and where unemployment is currently around only 1.4 per cent.

Mr Perry said: "They regard this as their home and the base of their work. I think seeing the situation in the light of where they came from, where police and the authorities are oppressive, they clearly are very much on the side of the gangmaster. He's their saviour, he is benevolent and not a dictator."

The minister became involved with Mr Garrard, whose parents are Greek and American, and his brother Robert last week when his church offered help and accommodation for 70 migrant workers who had just arrived in the country with nowhere to stay.

Mr Perry described the property as "gold on cardboard" with the best fittings on poor quality building in a style commensurate with Greece or Spain.

It was fitted with high quality tiles, marble-style floors, shower blocks and expensive toilet facilities.

Mr Perry said: "It's a bit over the top. Mr Garrard has done nothing to ingratiate himself with the natives. He has created a Greek or Spanish hacienda in the middle of a Lincolnshire village.

"This has become his own kingdom. From the workers' point of view, they had a home and a job that were far better than they had ever had before."

Norman Moore, 80, who has lived in the village all his life, built the original property 50 years ago as a two-up, two-down office block for his building business. He sold the premises 13 years ago when they were converted into a house.

The building was then acquired by Mr Garrard about a year ago.

As the demolition of the unauthorised work began, Mr Moore said: "It's a great day. Normally when something causes a stir around here it is then quietly forgotten about, but the villagers have been really uptight about this."

Terry Huggins, the chief executive of the Conservative-controlled South Holland district council, said: "This is the worst case of a flagrant breaching of planning rules I have come across."

Mr Garrard, 29, is due to appear in court next month accused of refusing to comply with enforcement notices. He describes himself as an "intermediary" who helps migrants find work in Lincolnshire.

He said: "All I have been doing is providing a humanitarian service. These are desperate people who have nothing else. They are all from the European Union and have the right to be here and to work here."

One worker, a 21-year-old Lithuanian who gave his name as Dmitri, said: "I was sent here by a company in Lithuania. I had to pay £200 to come here. It was not what I expected."

Last night police said that a 29-year-old man had been charged with a public order offence and obstructing a planning officer. He had been bailed to appear before Spalding magistrates on Feb 22.

A 20-year-old man who was arrested with him was released without charge.
welldone to the priest who negotiated the surrender.
 
#2
Words fail me, I really did think I was a tolerant man, however , I now find myself turning rapidly towards the opposite end of the spectrum. Why should I go all over the world "spreading the good (officially approved by Tony and George) word" when my own backyard is falling apart. I really don't care how they got in, nick the lot of them and SEND THEM BACK. If you want to come here, crack onabide by the rules but don't take the p*ss.
 

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