Dagenham prison campaign continues: “Things are looking good”, says MP Jon Cruddas

Jon Cruddas in front of his prison campaign banners.

Jon Cruddas in front of his prison campaign banners. - Credit: Archant

Five months on after the Mayor of London’s office sent a letter to the council leader about plans for a ‘super-prison’ in Dagenham, MP Jon Cruddas’ crusade against it is gaining momentum.

A packed room for Jon Cruddas' meeting on 'super-prison' plans in Dagenham.

A packed room for Jon Cruddas' meeting on 'super-prison' plans in Dagenham. - Credit: Archant

More than 8,000 people have signed the Dagenham and Rainham MP’s petition fighting proposals for a 2,000 capacity at the Beam Park site.

Last night at a meeting updating residents on the campaign, he said: “Things are looking good. Five months ago they were looking like they were going to go ahead with it.

“Now they are getting cold feed in the Mayor’s office and they are getting worried in the Ministry of Justice.”

Back in 2010, Mr Cruddas successfully fought off plans for a slightly smaller prison to be built in Dagenham.

“It was a great example of people power,” he told a packed audience at Dagenham Village Hall. “They made up reasons about a flood plain but the only reason they turned it back was because of our campaign.”

The meeting was also a chance to people to voice their opinions about the plans.

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Ken Roast, of Church Elm Lane, Dagenham, cast doubt on claims of job creation at such a prison.

He said: “People are naïve to think that it will bring jobs. A large amount of people will be decanted here from elsewhere and a lot of jobs are taken on by prisoners themselves. In relation to the building, those jobs will be short-term.”

With school places in the limelight this week, many residents objected to land being used for a prison when there is a critical need for new schools.

Last week, the government announced the building of a 2,000 capacity ‘super-prison’ in Wales that will replace four smaller prisons across the country.

Mr Cruddas commented: “The recent announcement highlights that there are other sites across the capital that could also accommodate a large scale prison facility, and I will be keeping the pressure up to make sure that all of the prospective sites are considered equally.”