Following the expansion of the European Union in 2004 unprecedented numbers of Accession 8 migrants from Central and Eastern Europe entered the UK. These migrants are often concentrated in particular urban neighbourhoods, which are already routinely home to diverse communities and/or characterised by high levels of social deprivation. Using original data from a study in a northern English city, this paper explores the ways in which established communities experience and make sense of the local impact of new migration within their neighbourhoods. The belief that newly arrived migrants are in competition with established communities for finite local jobs and welfare resources is central to the expressed concerns of established communities about the potential for A8 migration to have a localised negative impact. Utilising Ellison's (2000) theoretical insights, the paper argues that established communities’ concerns, rather than being simply an expression of xenophobic intolerance, have their basis in how the expansion of the EU facilitates opportunities for the ‘proactive engagement’ of citizenship status among A8 migrants, whilst often triggering a more ‘defensive engagement’ among members of local host communities.