Leading article: Not as straightforward as it seemed

Click to follow
The Independent Online

It all looked so simple. With the help of some celebrity oomph from the glamorous Joanna Lumley, the Gurkha Justice Campaign was always on to a winner. It helped that the fight against the rule stopping Gurkhas who had retired before 1997 from settling in Britain could be supported by such an easy moral argument. After all, these were people who had served in Britain's armed forces, who had been willing to fight and die for a country that then denied them residence. Sure enough, the campaign was a roaring success. Ms Lumley, already a national treasure, saw her star soar yet higher.

Except it has turned out rather differently. Fast-forward three years, and the law of unintended consequences is in full force. There are now anything up to 12,000 Nepalese ex-Gurkhas living in Aldershot and Farnborough, around one in 10 of the population, according to the borough council's estimates. Councils and infrastructure services are struggling to cope with the sudden influx of people, and with residency applications from Nepal still running at 200 a month, it is not a problem that is going to away by itself.

Local residents, many of whom backed the original lobbying effort, are sufficiently concerned to spawn two campaigns on Facebook, lambasting the effect of so many new arrivals. Even Ms Lumley herself is stepping into the fray; she has called on the Prime Minister to "sort out" the problem by channelling more resources to the area.

The lesson of all this upset? Nothing is ever as simple as it seems.