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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 March 2008, 08:24 GMT
Migrants' rent-free camp attacked
Igor, one of the woodland area's residents'
Igor came to Peterborough looking for work

A council has said a group of eastern European immigrants living rough and "rent-free" in a city are giving migrant workers a bad name.

Up to 20 Lithuanians, Slovakians, Poles, Ukrainians and Russians have set up camp in an area of Peterborough.

The city council said the group had refused offers of help and work opportunities and were continuing to live rent-free on the streets.

A council spokesman said they had been warned their camp was illegal.

"They have been told that their camp is illegal and must be removed but have moved their tents only a short distance further along," the spokesman said.

"It may next be necessary to take enforcement action. Essentially, they have refused opportunities for work and only undertake sporadic employment when no other means of support are available. They prefer to live rent-free."

'Plight highlighted'

The spokesman said three tents have been put up in the city's Bourges Boulevard, with up to 20 "rough sleepers" thought to be living there.

The group are mostly men, aged in their 30s and 40s.

The spokesman added: "It gives migrant workers a bad name and denigrates Peterborough's reputation."

Antony Slack, 47, of the Peterborough Christian United People Ministry, is helping the group by handing out food and clothing. He has also made a DVD to highlight their plight.

"Some are living in tents and others are using plastic sheeting and tarpaulin as shelter," he said.

"There are about four or five locations where people are living in bushes.

"We want to raise awareness of what is happening in our community."

He added: "It's also a message to people thinking of coming over here from eastern Europe. Our streets are not paved with gold. We have our own problems and there's no guarantee of work."

Migrants living in 'shanty town'
11 Mar 08 |  Cambridgeshire

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