New asbestos memorial planned for Barking Town Square
- Credit: Guy Mannes-Abbott
Plans are to be revealed for a new memorial in Barking to those who lost their lives to asbestos.
A meeting will be held this week, arranged by the Barking, Dagenham and Havering Trades Union Council (BDHTUC), where more details will be released about a proposal to replace the existing Town Square memorial.
Explaining that BDHTUC decided to get involved after being approached about the declining state of the current memorial, secretary Susan Aitouaziz said: "It’s an important legacy for the people who died. This is our past, our industrial past.
"But it’s also a commitment to building better, and to making sure people are aware of the damage that was done by asbestos.”
With the stone - and a stone mason - already chosen, she is hopeful the new memorial will be ready for next year's International Workers Memorial Day (on April 28).
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The meeting will also discuss the ongoing campaigning around asbestos, with MP Jon Cruddas and council leader Darren Rodwell among the confirmed speakers.
Scheduled for this year's International Workers Memorial Day on Wednesday, Susan believes it is vital to continue campaigning on the issue.
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According to the secretary, a shared industrial past means Barking, Dagenham and Havering have all been "disproportionately impacted" by asbestos-related problems such as mesothelioma.
A type of cancer caused by inhaling asbestos fibres, statistics from the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers revealed that Havering’s death rate for the disease was nearly double the national average between 2006 and the end of 2010.
Dagenham and Rainham MP Mr Cruddas has been a long-standing campaigner on the issue, having been part of efforts to establish the ‘fund of last resort’ in 2014 (which provides compensation to workers and families affected by mesothelioma).
A review of that fund was released in March, the findings of which will be discussed at the meeting.
Cllr Rodwell will speak about Barking and Dagenham's commitment to building 'healthier', while trade unionist John McClean will discuss the problem of asbestos in schools.
Starting at 7pm, those interested can register to attend by emailing BDHTUC@hotmail.com.