Darren Rodwell: 'I attended Tory conference to lobby for underground A13'
Darren Rodwell, leader, Barking and Dagenham Council
- Credit: Transport for London
Queues at petrol pumps. Rising energy bills. Cuts to living standards and people struggling to keep their heads above water. It feels like the 1970s again.
Many Londoners felt left behind before the pandemic arrived.
And they had every reason to be. Estimates I've seen show nearly one million were earning less than the London Living Wage and there were more people in temporary accommodation than the population of Oxford.
Last week I attended the Conservative Party Conference to lobby for our stretch of the A13 to be put underground.
This would help us build more homes we need and cut harmful vehicle emissions. My presence as a Labour leader caused a bit of a stir but the borough comes before ideology.
The government talks about "levelling up", but so far it seems to be about shoring up votes in the north. It begs the question, what does it mean? I say come to Barking and Dagenham to find out.
We’re building 50,000 homes over the next 20 years – with eight out of 10 going to local people. We created our own council-owned regeneration company (Be First) which means we are tripling the number of homes we are building.
This year one in four of the affordable homes being built in London are being made in Barking and Dagenham.
We have an international rail link to the rest of the world. London’s biggest data centre. Two new film studios on the way. The three markets of London – Spitalfields, Billingsgate & Smithfields – are on their way. And the Thames Freeport, which will create up to 21,000 jobs and £1.5 billion in new port infrastructure.
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We are leaving no stone unturned in putting the borough first.
But make no mistake, we face some tough years ahead. The government has taken away a third of our funding over the last decade.
Council tax only makes up 16 per cent of what we need for local services. With the next budget just around the corner, we need the government to do its bit to meet us halfway and genuinely level up.