Housing: Barking and Dagenham Council leader slams Westminster for moving its poor here

Council leader Darren Rodwell has criticised Westminster City Council

Council leader Darren Rodwell has criticised Westminster City Council - Credit: Archant

Council leader Darren Rodwell has openly slammed Westminster for buying up houses in Barking and Dagenham to clear some of its poorest people out of central London.

Families placed in the borough are putting a strain on services and disadvantaging local people, according to Barking and Dagenham Council’s top politician.

Increasing demand for school places, delays getting GP appointments and an overspend on children’s and social work budgets are some of the issues being blamed on an influx of families from Westminster, he said – although the figures available suggest only a handful of houses have so far been purchased.

The inner London council spent £6million on 34 homes across Barking and Dagenham and three other north east London boroughs in six months, with another £9m earmarked to expand its portfolio.

A senior Town Hall source described the policy as “social cleansing”.

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Now Cllr Darren Rodwell has vowed to write to the leader of Westminster about what he has described as an “affront to residents”.

He suggested Barking and Dagenham was being “treated as a convenience” by the far wealthier borough.

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Speaking to the Post today, Cllr Rodwell said: “For every house someone else gets, our residents aren’t getting it.

“As soon as they move their families into this location, they become our social care concern and we get the bills. They use our services.

“We’re building two schools a year – they’ve got 250 school places vacant. They should be building in their own borough.”

Cllr Rodwell, who has vowed also to write to the government, added: “Why should we as a local authority pick up the cost of residents they place here?

“Will [Westminster] give us the money for all the services we provide?

“I publicly come out against what they’re doing. There’s not much we can physically do, but morally this is wrong.”

He also alleged Westminster had cancelled a meeting with him over the issue without offering any alternative dates.

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