Friday was a great day for Dagenham; the Government announced they would not be building a Prison in Beam Park. As a Council Leader and a local parent I always knew that this was the wrong thing for us. The first part of our campaign has now ended, 15,000 people signed our petition and together we showed the Government that the people of Dagenham didn't want a prison here and that we were prepared to fight it all the way.
I was more than just opposed to a prison being built in our area; I was opposed to civil servants in Whitehall or in the Mayors office thinking they could just dump problems in Dagenham. That is why Friday was such a great day. We won. Because the local council didn't own the land earmarked for the prison - it's actually owned by Boris Johnson's London Development Agency - we couldn't stop the prison plan on our own.
That's why we needed your support and your help.On behalf of the ‘Say NO To The Prison' campaign I would like to thank everyone who signed our petition or joined our Facebook group. I would also like to thank our local MP Jon Cruddas.
I know some MPs get a bad press but no one could criticise Jon for not being hardworking or giving 110 per cent for the issues that matter to local people.
We are now entering the next stage of our campaign and we still have a lot to do.
As long as the land lies derelict schemes will be proposed which don't put the local community first and we risk ending up with something that doesn't benefit our area.
This council will run a major consultation on what Dagenham wants to happen with Beam Park to make sure everyone's views are taken into consideration and when we decide what we propose we will make sure it serves our residents.
Times are difficult right now but London will soon start making money and when it does I believe we are in a great place to take advantage of that and do something that benefits Dagenham.
Our docklands where we once built the cars that moved people around the country can and should, once again become the heartbeat of our borough. Bringing jobs and money into our neighbourhood and driving our local economy.
We need houses, schools and leisure centres in Dagenham; we also need a strong local economy to pay for these things and I am committed to making sure everyone has their say about what we should prioritise.
After Friday no one can say Dagenham can be used as a dumping ground for a prison people don't want elsewhere. Now everyone knows we will stand up and be counted - for our community, our future and our children's future.
Thank you once again for your support.