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Why Poles pour into 'Llanellski'.

The influx of Poles to Llanelli has led to the West Wales town being dubbed "Llanellski".

One resident who asked not to be named said: "While many of the poles have integrated and get on well there are issues which still grate with local people. "For instance you hardly ever hear Welsh spoken in Llanelli market now, but you do hear Polish. "It is true people with qualifications are coming here, I have heard of people who are qualified doctors in Poland doing office cleaning jobs in Llanelli.

"Whenever a manufacturing company has jobs on offer, around 50% of the hundreds of job applicants are Polish. "A few years ago locals would have had a much better chance of getting a job in hard times like now.

"Not many people will speak openly about this because they are afraid of being seen as racist." But Jeff Hopkins, chairman of the Polish Welsh Mutual Association based in Llanelli's Bridge Street, said: "The Poles are like the Welsh, there is good and bad among them but generally they are good.

"As for Welsh not being heard on the streets or markets in Llanelli anymore, that's not true, I live here and I hear Welsh spoken a lot. You are more likely to hear Polish in Asda than in the market because Asda cater for the different food tastes the Polish have and make a good profit.

"When it comes to more middle tier, higher qualified workers coming from Poland I can only speak for what I see.

"Those coming to Llanelli still seem to be looking for jobs in the agriculture, manual and manufacturing sector with a lot still employed in the meat processing industry." Llanelli councillor John Jenkins (Independent) said the "first wave" of Polish immigrants to Llanelli caused problems because their arrival was badly managed. He said: "There were some reports of bad behaviour and complaints by neighbours. But I think mistakes were made in areas like housing and social services and this was a new situation.

"Those from Poland coming here now tend to be well behaved and integrate well and as far as I'm aware there are no problems." WHY COME TO WALES? IT'S easy to see why thousands of Eastern Europeans travel to Wales to find work. Take Poland, for example.

The average hourly wage in Poland is just pounds 2, and even professionals frequently have to survive on salaries as low as pounds 200 a month. Prospects for Polish graduates are often poor, and an estimated one in five students holding degrees eventually travel to Britain to find work.

That said, in this recession-hit world, Poland's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 2.9% in the final three months of 2008. It appears to have fared better than we have during the economic downturn, the UK's GDP - a key wealth indicator - rose 0.7% during the same period.

The country also seems to have avoided the property market slump. An average three-bedroom property in Poland costs about pounds 140,408 based on today's exchange rates. In Wales, the typical family home carries a price tag of pounds 179,295. Property asking prices are expected to fall here further but in 2007, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said Polish prices had a further 58% to climb. Other aspects of life behind the former Iron Curtain also appear positive. The average loaf of bread costs 51p compared to pounds 1.12 in Britain, and typically a pint of lager will cost 85p compared to pounds 2.82 here.

Additionally, the Western press has started to praise many of the country's public services. But despite Poles receiving high standards of education and health care, the country's life expectancy rate stands at around 69 years for men and 77 years for women. In Britain, men and women live for 77 years and 82 years, respectively..
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 17, 2009
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