It's the issue that captured the hearts of Dagenham, and sparked controversy amongst young and old residents alike. Way back at the end of 2014 rumours circulated, and then an article in the Barking & Dagenham Post seemingly confirmed everyone's fears; that the iconic Dagenham Civic Centre was set to be sold off under the weight of £54 million of cuts to the local authority.
Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham & Rainham, who had been inundated with letters and emails of concern from residents launched a public consultation in response. When asked why he felt it was important that every household in the area received a survey Jon commented: "This isn't a minor issue, the Dagenham Civic Centre is a public building – and with services being cut back across the borough, we should be looking at fully utilising the Civic for its original purpose; providing good public services. The Civic Centre is an iconic landmark – and once you sell off the family silver, there's no getting it back. The building belongs to the community, and they should get a say in its future."
Haven't signed the petition? Click HERE
The survey response was huge; over 3,000 were returned by post with more signing an online petition. The initial plans that were circulating the local community were that the building would be sold off and converted into a school to make a saving in the region of £100,000. However these plans were opposed not only by Jon Cruddas MP, and the community, but also by the Barking, Dagenham & Havering Trades Union Council. There are over 400 people employed at the Civic Centre, and with little room to relocate staff the trade unions feared for the local workers.
The campaign was widespread with many aspects; interviews with the public, officially submitting a petition with over 3,700 signatures to the council, survey responses were collated and raised at meetings, and Jon Cruddas organised a candlelit vigil at the building which attracted over 400 local residents.
The campaign is far from over. Sign the growing petition HERE
Plans regarding the building's future are still shrouded in mystery with no official council response, and it has been alleged by members of Civic Centre staff that they are due to be moved out by November this year. The issue is to be discussed again at a future Public Accounts and Audit Select Committee in February, the same committee that the petition was originally submitted to.
In the coming weeks Jon Cruddas MP will be meeting with the Leader of the Council to discuss the issue further. In the meantime if you haven't signed the petition yet please do so by clicking HERE
You can also help promote the campaign on social media using our infographic which can be found HERE and the hashtag #SaveOurCivic