Club's future in the balance

THE FUTURE of the May & Baker Sports Club, which hosts many school tournaments and community functions, looks uncertain. Pharmaceutical giant, Sanofi-Aventis, say it is just too early to tell whether the closure of their Dagenham plant in Rainham Road So

THE FUTURE of the May & Baker Sports Club, which hosts many school tournaments and community functions, looks uncertain.

Pharmaceutical giant, Sanofi-Aventis, say it is just too early to tell whether the closure of their Dagenham plant in Rainham Road South will mean the end of the popular centre.

Over the years the Sports and Social Club has been a hub of activity, catering for everyone from rugby and football teams to cricket matches and bowling leagues.

It has also hosted school reunions, including the Old Dagonians of Dagenham County High, now Sydney Russell, in June this year as they celebrated the life of fellow student Dudley Moore.


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The loss of the May & Baker Sports Club would be a crushing blow for the borough, but Sanofi-Aventis say they will do all they can to ensure the site is used for the benefit of the community.

Deputy site manager, Mark Bass, said: "Honestly, we just don't know what will happen to the sports facilities at this early stage.

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"It has been here for many years and we are aware of all the social events that occur in the grounds.

"But until the site gets a bit closer to closure in 2013 we just don't know.

"We are working closely with the council to find a long term use for the area."

One of the possibilities put forward was a new Dagenham Community Hospital, which would include a Dental Training facility.

Sanofi-Aventis met with councillors and council officers last week and a meeting with Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas is planned for this week.

The phased closure of the plant, which could see as many as 457 people lose their jobs, was announced on Thursday November 5.

Staff have expressed their disappointment at the move, but say the company has offered them support in finding new work or moving to another Sanofi-Aventis factory.

The medical drug manufacturer also runs plants in Cheshire, Newcastle and across Europe.

The decision was taken to close the Dagenham site because demand for the drugs made there will drop over the next few years.

This is in part due to the company's patent on oncology medication, Taxotere, expiring in 2012, allowing rivals to produce their own versions.

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