Council backs bid to block prison

COUNCILLORS have pledged to oppose plans for a huge prison at an old Ford car works in Dagenham. At last week s annual assembly meeting, they voted to back a campaign against the category B jail and called on London Mayor Boris Johnson, who will have the

COUNCILLORS have pledged to oppose plans for a huge prison at an old Ford car works in Dagenham.

At last week's annual assembly meeting, they voted to back a campaign against the category B jail and called on London Mayor Boris Johnson, who will have the final say on granting planning permission, to suspend plans for a public consultation.

The 1,500-inmate prison, unveiled last month by Justice Secretary Jack Straw, will be built in Beam Reach, south of New Road near Kent Avenue, by 2013.

Labour council leader Cllr Liam Smith said: "Residents have been telling me they don't want a prison in Beam Park. I will do all I can to stop a prison being built and the council will now be right behind the campaign."


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The prison announcement sparked anger from Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas who said he was only told about it 20 minutes beforehand.

Chadwell Heath Conservative Cllr Terry Justice said Mr Cruddas should have spoken up during the Commons debate about the prison.

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He said: "I find it extremely surprising that Mr Cruddas didn't make a comment in the chambers.

"If that was my seat, I would certainly want to make a comment."

"It is supposed to create 800 jobs, but how many jobs will it put off? How many people are going to want to acquire land next to a prison? I don't think that's something this borough can afford."

Mr Cruddas said: "I think it is better to get more information than be bounced into an immediate reaction. I will be working hand-in-hand with the council on this and want to get as much information as possible, and consult residents."

A Facebook group opposing the prison, set up by Mr Cruddas and the council's Labour group, has almost 3,000 members.

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