Letter: Dover's problems

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The Independent Culture
Sir: As a Dover resident, I feel that David Aaronovitch's article ("Let Dover stew in its disgusting narrow-mindedness and prejudice", 18 August) is as unhelpful to the situation we find ourselves in as the exaggerated press reporting he complains about.

When I moved to Dover in 1980, it was "Small-Town England" - a shift- working port where it was relatively safe to walk alone in most areas at any time of day or night. The same was true until 1994/5, when the town had an influx of bootleggers.

In most cases this influx was absorbed into local life. But I would remind your readers of press reports a couple of years ago when violence broke out at a weekend between rival gangs of bootleggers, and guns were involved - a bit of a shock to a town used to the odd "boot-and-fist" fight.

The bootleggers are no longer so much in evidence (they're still here but better organised) and it is true that Dover should not be so spooked by 750 refugees in a town of 35,000 people. But nearly all the refugees live in the same main road that used to house the bootleggers.

Now understand our concerns: another focus in town that brings out the worst in the undesirable elements and stops us being able to return to our previously peaceful existence.

People in Dover may be resentful, but the vast majority are prepared to live, let live and wait for the asylum procedure to run its course. What we don't need is the negative reporting in both the local and national press or the type of comments made by David Aaronovitch. These just add fuel to the feelings of the (small) element of people who would make any stranger the focus of their anger.

Mrs HELEN BELL

Dover

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