The potential influx of Romanians and Bulgarians could put an extra strain taxpayer-funded services, the Tory leader of Harrow Council has warned.
As of January 1, Romanians and Bulgarians have been granted new permissions to work across European Union states, leading Harrow Council to begin engaging in precautionary measures.
Councillor Susan Hall told the Observer: "It would be remiss of us as a local authority not to prepare for a possible influx of numbers and the possible strains that could place on public services like schools, housing and health."
A national newspaper reported last week that Harrow Council had already drafted in hundreds of extra Romanian and Bulgarian interpreters to prepare for extra demand for benefits, housing and schools, something Harrow Council have since denied.
The council leader did say however that while it is not yet possible to estimate how many Romanians and Bulgarians will flock to the UK – although organisations such as MigrationWatch UK estimate that 350,000 could arrive over the next seven years - precautionary measures have already begun.
Ms Hall added: "I have asked our children’s services team to look at the availability of translators for schools and other council departments should we need them.
“Nobody has any issue with immigrants who come here to work, pay taxes and contribute – indeed, London was built on waves of successful immigration. But I think the people of Harrow – who will ultimately pick up the bill for extra services for new arrivals – would expect their council to be taking prudent action to cope with extra demands we might get."
Harrow's Labour Group leader Councillor David Perry has attacked Ms Hall for her comments however, believing them to be premature.
He said: "Susan Hall has completely exaggerated and whipped up a mini frenzy about the numbers of Romanians and Bulgarians coming to Harrow. The rhetoric is being made for political gain and thus far Harrow Council have no evidence to support the Leader of the Council's scaremongering amongst our communities."