FROM OUR FRONT PAGE: EU vote ‘will drive shops out of Boston’

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West Street ENGEMN00120130402152359

“Boston should prepare for big change in the next five to 10 years – with empty shops, a mass exodus of migrants who can no longer afford to stay and, as a result, a major hit on the local economy.” This is the warning from Zee Barbaks, a member of the Latvian Consul in Great Britain and representative of the community in Boston.

Local UKIP campaigners were in the town on Saturday to say “thank you” to the Borough and the 75.6 per cent of people who chose to leave the EU - the highest Brexit vote in the country.

But while residents got on with their weekly shopping almost as if nothing had changed, concern was growing among the European community.

Mr Barbaks said: “With the drop in the pound, prices are already rising in the European shops because the price of goods has risen and it is already difficult to get them.

“The migrants who are facing exploitation – struggling on low wages and living in expensive accommodation – will not be able to afford to stay.

“Some shop owners are already telling me they are thinking of closing down and going to London or Manchester, where there are higher paid jobs.

“When this happens the economy in Boston will go down.

Those who want to stay and get British citizenship face an expensive process. Mr Barbaks said: “It costs £900 - some people will not be able to afford it.

“My hopes are that the young who are better integrated will make it here - they are the only hope for Boston.”

Zerrin Cagdos, 17, comes from Turkey and works at her father’s fruit and veg shop in Red Lion Street.

She said: “Some people do seem worried and it is quieter in here today. My family are all English citizens – I’m at Boston High School and want to be a lawyer. But some people are saying they are worried they may have to go to other places.”

Maria Dias, from Portugal, has lived in Boston for 16 years and believes the town could regret the vote to leave the EU.

She believed many English people did not want to work in factories and on the land – an accusation always strongly denied by Leave campaigners.

Richard Leggate, marketing manager at Wrangle Growers, employs migrant agricultural workers in the Boston area. He said: “I think most of the English people who want a job on the land have work – our migrant workers fill the extra jobs. They come here for a better life because they can earn more. But the result of the EU vote can’t be nice for them. How would you feel?”