Barking MP Margaret Hodge launches petition to save police counter

Margaret Hodge gathers signatures for her petition. Picture: Tom Horton

Margaret Hodge gathers signatures for her petition. Picture: Tom Horton - Credit: Archant

Barking MP Margaret Hodge launched a petition today to keep the Learning Centre police counter open.

Margaret Hodge addresses supporters. Picture: Tom Horton

Margaret Hodge addresses supporters. Picture: Tom Horton - Credit: Archant

Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas recently succeeded with his campaign to keep open the police station on his side of the borough - but the offshoot is that now Barking is set to close instead.

Dame Margaret expressed her anger at the decision to shift the problem, pointing out that wards in Barking experience higher levels of crime than those in Dagenham.

“This is one of the poorest areas in London and there is a big problem with crime. I am not giving up on this one,” she said.

“This was the most outrageous thing they could have possibly done.”

Supporters gather to protest against the counter closure. Picture: Tom Horton

Supporters gather to protest against the counter closure. Picture: Tom Horton - Credit: Archant

She expressed concern that driving to Dagenham police station can take up to half an our from Barking and significantly longer if you take the bus.

Her petition currently has 400 signatures - and she says she wants “at least” 1,500 before she hands it in to parliament.

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One of the justifications for closing the station is it is being used infrequently - but Dame Hodge says they should be making it more user friendly rather than getting rid of it.

At present the building, which is tucked away in a pedestrianised area away from the road, has a frontage of frosted glass. You can’t see through or see anyone inside.

The building is too uninviting, says Margaret Hodge. Picture: Tom Horton

The building is too uninviting, says Margaret Hodge. Picture: Tom Horton - Credit: Archant

Council leader Darren Rodwell came along to show his support for her campaign, giving his “save our station” sign an unwanted second outing.

“We need more support for policing and a rethink of the way it is run in our borough. Even if Barking and Dagenham counters stay open, if you live in Chadwell Heath or in Thames ward, it is till going to take you a long time to get to a station,” he said.

Because waiting times on 101 police lines are so long, police counters remain an important facility for the reporting of crime, he adds.

The mayor of Barking and Dagenham, Cllr Abdul Aziz, was also there to show his support.

“I am not here for a political reason - I am here because this is important to everyone in our community,” he said.

“This is not important for any one group - policing effects all of us.

“I am very positive about this campaign and I am 90 per cent sure we will succeed.”

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