Last night there was an overwhelming response at my public consultation meeting; over six hundred people attended which led to us having to hold two consecutive meetings in the May & Baker Eastbrook Community Club.
I have made it very clear since this issue first came to my attention that, as with other proposals for the area it is important that we hear the opinions of the people of Dagenham. As the elected Member of Parliament it is my job to represent the views of the people that put me here, regardless of religion or political belief. I've been the MP since 2001 and have always done my utmost to act in the best interests of the constituents without bias. It is because of this that I was disappointed to see some people at last night's meeting attempting to use this issue for personal and political gain. Residents need to be aware of the facts, and I think it is extremely unhelpful when individuals take half of a story and use it to stoke up fear and disunity within a community.
The strong sense of feeling from residents last night highlighted that the site should be used for regeneration in terms of sports and social facilities for the area, and in particular our young people. In the coming weeks I will be speaking with Steve Thompson who is the chair of the board at the club; to the Leader of the Council; and to the Chief Executive to find out what options are available.
Some interesting points were also raised in terms of process. It was established that any proposals must be agreed on first by the trustees of the club, and then through the council planning committee. However, it was also suggested that the site could not be developed due to land covenants. Something that I will be looking into on behalf of residents in the coming weeks, and discussing in coming meetings with both the council and the club.
Finally, I would like to thank everyone who attended last night; and apologies to those who had to wait for the second meeting – whilst we knew that this was a major issue, we did not anticipate the number of residents that would attend. The take home message was that people wanted the site to be used for the benefit of the community as a whole, helping to build a better future for Dagenham East. I will continue to do everything I can in order to make residents voices heard on this, and will proceed on the basis of consensus.
Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham & Rainham