Thursday 7 March marked World Book Day 2019. This year in Barking and Dagenham the day marked the launch of a project by local Councillor Andrew Achilleos and Trees for Cities, a project which has now fully funded a book called ‘The Lost Words’ by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris along with teaching resources for every primary and SEND school in the borough.

Beam County Primary School in Dagenham is the first school in London to get the book as part of the project, and throughout the year Trees for Cities will be delivering the book across the city.

This week Jon Cruddas MP has been contacted by Historic Royal Palaces with a fantastic opportunity for local schools and school children from Key Stage 1 through to Key Stage 5.

The total number of unemployed claimants in Dagenham and Rainham constituency in January 2019 was 2,035. This represents a rate of 3.7% of the economically active population aged 16-64. The equivalent UK claimant rate was 3.1%. The UK unemployment rate, which includes people not claiming benefits and is estimated from survey data, was 4.0% in October to December 2018.

New research has highlighted that changes to free TV licences to over-75s will cost local pensioners hundreds of thousands of pounds a year combined – money which will go straight to the Treasury’s coffers.

This comes as the BBC’s consultation on the future of free TV Licences for over-75s closed last week.

Millions of older people across the country could lose their TV licence in 2020 despite the government’s 2017 Manifesto promise to protect free TV licences until 2022.

Last month Barking and Dagenham Council hosted the first ever East BCU Serious Violence Summit. The East BCU is the tri-borough command unit which covers Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge. The event was launched in response to the concerning rise in violent crime across the tri-borough area over the last 12 months.

Over 200 people attended the event from across boroughs including MPs, councillors, voluntary organisations, social workers, charities, and people from the education sector.

This week Jon Cruddas MP submitted a letter to the Planning Inspectorate outlining his concerns over the Riverside Energy Park proposals. The proposals would see a second mass waste incinerator established in Belvedere just across the Thames from Rainham, South Hornchurch and the Beam Park development area.

Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham is encouraging local charities and good causes across the constituency to apply for over £3million of funding that has been raised by the players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Applications are open from 6 February until 20 February, where a whole host of good causes from social enterprises to voluntary groups and registered charities are eligible to apply for grants of between £500 and £20,000.

On Wednesday 16th January, Barking and Dagenham held the first ever East BCU (Borough Command Unit) Serious Violence Summit. The summit was attended by 240 people which included police officers, trauma surgeons, charity representatives, councillors from across the tri-borough area, victims of violent crime and many more.

Deputy Mayor of Policing and Crime Sophie Linden addressed the summit at the start of the day announcing a harrowing fact – Metropolitan Police numbers have fallen under 30,000 officers at a time when crime is rising.

Jon Cruddas MP was recently contacted by the People’s Health Trust delivering the news that £18,595 in grant funding has been awarded to Young Stars Football First and their ‘Beam Park Walking Football’ project. The project engages with older people living in the Beam Park area of Dagenham and gets them involved in slow paced recreational exercise and social activities.

2018 has been a whirlwind of a year, and certainly not short of parliamentary drama.

Yet there have also been some real highlights throughout, the most recent of which was my annual Christmas Card Competition. I say it every year but it is the best event my team organise, it’s always lovely to see the winners and runners up from schools across the constituency receiving their prizes. Choosing the card is a particular highlight, and always incredibly difficult!

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