Alastair Campbell praises Dagenham regeneration plans

Alastair Campbell today gave his backing to a multi-million pound business park set to unlock hundreds of new jobs in Dagenham.

The former Labour spin doctor endorsed the new businesseast park, which could help to offset redundancies at Ford when it shuts its the 750-staff stamping and tooling plants in Chequers Lane next July.

The science and technology park will be built at the site of the 450-staff pharmaceutical factory called Sanofi in Rainham Road South, which is closing next year due to a fall in demand for cancer drugs.

Business park bosses are now in talks with a major IT company to turn the factory into a mini Silicon Valley featuring one of Europe’s biggest information centres.

They have also struck a deal with high-street chain Sainsbury to open a 400-staff supermarket at the site.

Mr Campbell, 55, said: “It’s a fantastic project and I wish it all the best. In relation to Ford, I think that what is interesting is that virtually everybody says that Ford can learn from Sanofi in terms of explaining the decision that they are making but also engaging the community about what sort of legacy they can leave in terms of jobs and infrastructure.”

Mr Campbell discussed the regeneration of Dagenham with Tory politician Steven Norris at the Sanofi factory today as it emerged council chiefs had applied for a �12million Mayor of London grant to help secure the future of the business park.

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Barking and Dagenham Council would use the regeneration grant to purchase some of the science buildings at Sanofi and then lease them to companies settling at the technology park, thought to be worth at least �25m.

City Hall is considering the application the Labour council has made under the London Growth Fund that Boris Johnson unveiled in February in a bid to attract new investment across the capital.

Businesseast site director Jim Moretta added: “Sanofi is taking a ground-breaking approach to a site closure which has been extremely well received. It’s a process we hope other big companies can learn from.”