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Dagenham Civic Centre saved from conversion into school

PUBLISHED: 15:52 09 December 2014 | UPDATED: 13:07 17 December 2014

The Dagenham Civic Centre

The Dagenham Civic Centre

Archant

Dagenham’s civic centre is set to be saved after a public consultation showed the massive weight of resistance against plans to convert it into a school.

MP Jon Cruddas led calls to retain the iconic building after he was overwhelmed with enquiries from concerned residents, before launching a survey which received a record 1,600 responses.

Now the Post has learnt that the council’s cabinet is expected to approve plans to keep the centre as it currently stands at a meeting on Tuesday next week, with Roycraft House set to be closed instead.

Mr Cruddas said he was delighted that the civic centre is now likely to remain, adding that the responses to his survey showed how it is valued by the entire borough.

About 1,400 residents said they wanted the centre, at the junction of Rainham Road North and Wood Lane, to remain be kept open.

There were more than 100 references to the civic centre being the “heart of Dagenham” in responses, with one resident describing the centre as “a symbol of Dagenham” and serving a purpose that “cannot be quantified”.

Others reminisced about the grand opening event in 1937 and receiving a green pencil as a momento.

“The stories and memories that have flooded into my office have been very moving,” Mr Cruddas said.

“The comments we had from Dagenham residents highlighted the strong feeling surrounding the building and its function in the community.

“The coalition government are handing down terrible cuts, but certain things are not just about money- they are about the character of our community.”

The centre is home to 550 council staff and holds regular meetings with members. Its conversion had been suggested as a means of finding savings for frontline services amid £53.5million cuts.

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