Minister sees vital role and contribution EU nationals playing in local economy

Published: Thursday 23rd November 17

Immigration minister Brandon Lewis was shown around London’s biggest regeneration project today (Thursday), seeing first hand the contribution being made by EU nationals.

The Leader of Wandsworth Council Ravi Govindia gave the minister a tour of the Nine Elms development in Battersea which is being completely transformed into a brand new residential and business quarter in the heart of London.

The visit comes two years after Mr Lewis last visited Nines Elms when he was the then housing minister and the regeneration of the area was beginning to gather pace.

Brandon Lewis (centre) and Cllr Ravi Govindia (right) are joined at the power
station by Simon Murphy, Chief Financial Officer, Battersea Power Station
Development Company.

There are more than 40 separate building projects taking shape across the 227 hectares that constitute Nine Elms, including the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station and the introduction of London’s first new tube stations for almost 20 years.

Councillor Govindia said: “The sheer scale of this project is phenomenal and it’s only when you visit Nine Elms and see the mass of development that is going on that you appreciate what this project is going to do for the local area creating a truly unique destination and transforming this part of London.

“The minister was extremely impressed by what he saw and how the project has developed in the last two years. What I wanted to do was emphasise the huge contribution of EU nationals in making Nine Elms a reality.

“When you walk through the various construction sites you can see that many of the workforce are from Europe. Their contribution cannot be underestimated and they are playing a crucial role in helping shape London’s most significant regeneration project.”

The minister’s visit comes as Wandsworth Council has set up a new advice service for EU nationals living in the borough who are concerned about Brexit. The 2011 census showed that 11 per cent of the borough’s residents hold an EU passport. The largest EU population is Polish, followed by French, Italian, German and Spanish.

Councillor Govindia has repeatedly lobbied Government to make sure that the rights of these citizens are protected and for them to have their status confirmed, post-Brexit, as soon as possible.

He said: “I want the Government to recognise their contribution to London’s economy. Today was a great opportunity to show the minister the contribution of these workers to the success of Nine Elms and it is vitally important we acknowledge what they are giving back to the economy, not just in Wandsworth, but across the whole of London. We value what they are doing and want them to stay and thrive within our communities.”

Mr Lewis said: “It was a pleasure to be at Battersea today and see the fantastic work the team are doing to regenerate the site.

“I also held very positive discussions with some of the EU nationals who work here, making clear that we hugely value their contribution to our economy and our society - and that we want them to stay in the UK once we leave the EU.”

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Recent comments

I applaud any support shown for EU nationals working here and applaud the hard work they do. Their contribution to the UK economy is invaluable and I firmly believe that when/if we leave the EU our economy will suffer no end of harm if EU workers do not receive UK government support and encouragement for them to stay. Like many, many people in Wandsworth and in the UK I voted to remain in the EU in the referendum and deplore the back tracking by ministers and MPs who also declared pre-referendum that they also wished the UK to remain in the EU. I was part of the campaign for the UK to JOIN the EU many years ago and deplore the idea of Brexit and the lack of information and transparency accompanying the proposed move to leave the EU.
Anne Winton

1 December 2017