Review of the decade: The stories that made the headlines in Barking and Dagenham
PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 January 2020
A lot has happened in the past 10 years - and here are just some of the stories that made the pages of our paper since 2010.
The British National Party was ousted from Barking and Dagenham Council as Labour secured a clean sweep of seats. Twelve councillors from the far-right party had been elected in 2006. The party's leader, Nick Griffin, was also standing in the General Election held on the same day and failed to beat Labour incumbent Margaret Hodge to the Barking seat.
Hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects to Dagenham soldier Martin Kinggett, who was killed in action while providing covering fire for a wounded colleague in Afghanistan. The 19-year-old was buried with full military honours and a guard of honour at Eastbrook Cemetery.
Dagenham's own Stacey Solomon was crowned Queen of the Jungle. The former X Factor star won the 10th series of ITV's I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.
The true scale of the borough's school places shortage was revealed - with fears children could be educated in shifts to meet demand. An additional 500 reception class places were required within two years - and by September 2013, secondary school places were also at risk of running out.
Yobs armed with bricks ransacked shops in Barking as the London riots - sparked by a police shooting in Tottenham - spread eastwards. The derelict Westbury Arms pub and stationary cars were set alight during a night of anti-social behaviour in the town centre.
Dagenham Town Show faced the axe under plans by Barking and Dagenham Council to save £20million. Other money-saving proposals included the removal of a subsidy for Barking's Broadway Theatre and the scaling back of services offered at the one stop shops.
The council also revealed plans to build a new leisure facilty in Barking to replace the old Abbey Sports Centre and Goresbrook Leisure Centre.
Pupils from Barking and Dagenham helped to make Olympic history as they took part in the London 2012 opening ceremony. More than 100 youngsters were chosen for roles including petal carriers, balloon releasers and dancers. Venues across the borough were also used as training venues for athletes during the summer of sport.
Around 60 people were made redundant following the closure of Barking's Remploy factory, which provided work for disabled people. The government-funded firm, originally set up in 1945 to provide work for injured war veterans, shut half its centres nationwide saying they were no longer financially viable.
More than 3,000 school places were set to be created after plans for two new free schools were given the green light. One, Riverside School, opened in 2013 - but the company behind the other was dissolved with no school being created.
And talented Barking 11-year-old Molly Rainford reached the final of Britain's Got Talent - losing out to acrobatic dog act Ashleigh and Pudsey.
Firefighters tackled a scrapyard blaze in Dagenham which broke out just hours before a planned strike - handing over control of the scene to contingency crews before returning after the strike period finished. Smoke from the fire, in Perry Road, could be seen for miles and burned for more than 14 hours, destroying 1,500 tonnes of scrap metal.
Three tower blocks on Dagenham's Goresbrook Village estate - dubbed the Legoland towers because of their multicoloured block pattern - were demolished to make way for a multi-million pound regeneration scheme.
Traders fought plans to open a betting shop inside Barking station, with fears over the number of bookmakers in the area. At the time the plans were submitted, there were already four betting shops in Station Parade - and 41 across the borough.
And a three-year-old girl was banned from learning to ride her bike in a quiet cul-de-sac due to what her grandmother branded an "over-the-top" housing association policy.
Newcomers to Barking and Dagenham faced a decade-long wait to be allocated council housing after councillors voted to introduce a 10 year residency qualification. The move came after it was revealed 13,500 families were on the borough's housing register with just 600 empty council homes.
Motorists criticised the lack of central barriers on the Lodge Avenue flyover after a crash which closed the A13 for more than six hours. The pile-up involved 10 vehicles, with traffic coming to a standstill on both sides of the road.
Sixty tonnes of rubbish - including fridge freezers, gas cylinders and an exercise bike - were dumped at The Chase nature reserve in one of the borough's biggest fly-tipping incidents.
And opportunisitic theives looted electronic goods from the wreckage of a Dagenham shop just hours after it was destroyed in a fire.
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Refuse collectors went on strike over accusations the council was breaching health and safety rules by reducing the time allowed to carry out safety checks. The changes would have seen workers face a £1,000 a year pay cut.
The Queen visited Barking and Dagenham to mark 50 years since the formation of the borough.
Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, the itenerary included visits to Chadwell Heath Community Centre, Sydney Russell School and the Broadway Theatre. Thousands of people lined the streets with Union Jack flags to welcome the royal visitors.
Residents in a Dagenham street were left scared to go outdoors after more than 300 youngsters turned up to a birthday party that got out of control. Police were called to disperse the party, which attracted gatecrashers after being advertised on Facebook.
And a homeless man was hailed a hero for coming to the aid of a teenager who was stabbed in the neck in Barking.
Serial killer Stephen Port was jailed for life for murdering four young men he met on gay dating app Grindr. The bodies of the men, all in their 20s, were found in or near the grounds of St Margaret's Church within 15 months. All had been drugged and raped. The police were criticised over their handling of the case and faced accusations of homophobia, but a subsequent IOPC investigation found that no officers had breached professional standards to justify disciplinary proceedings.
Plans to bring degrees to Dagenham were approved as Coventry University was given permission to move into the former Civic Centre building.
And a family of 16 - including three five-year-olds - were found living under the A406 flyover in Barking.
They had travelled to the UK from Romania to find work, with little success - but were unable to afford the tickets to return to their home country.
Campaigners fought to save Dagenham police station after it faced the axe as part of a City Hall policing overhaul. A 5,000-strong peititon was submitted as part of the bid to keep the Rainham Road South site open.
But those battling to save the town's Jobcentre were unsuccessful in their fight, with the office becoming one of 21 London branches to close under cost-cutting measures.
A six-year-old boy was hit by a car as he walked home from school just days after the borough's lollipop patrols were axed due to funding cuts.
The youngster was knocked down in Wood Lane - a main road which had previously been served by a lollipop patrol.
And a 400-year-old pub served its final pint. Regulars of the White Horse in Chadwell Heath - a former coach house - shared their memories of the popular venue with the Post.
The controversial Beam Park development in Dagenham and South Hornchurch was approved - despite initially being rejected over concerns over the height of tower blocks. A joint partnership between Barking and Dagenham and Havering councils, the scheme is set to feature 3,000 homes and a new train station.
Part of Roding Primary School was gutted by fire after a blaze broke out the day before the start of the new school year.
One section of the building was destroyed - but just over a year later, had been rebuilt and was able to host classes once more.
And an unqualified teacher who tried to recruit children to carry out Islamic State-inspired terror attacks was jailed for life. He had groomed young Muslims at a mosque in Barking - which suspended classes as an investigation into the radicalisation of the youngsters began.
A huge fire broke out at Barking Riverside's Samuel Garside House, destroying 20 flats and leaving residents of many more homeless. Nobody was hurt but some said there was no warning from fire alarms or sprinklers. Brothers Harrison Happe, 12, and Taylor Dodd, 17, were later given an award for raising the alarm and ensuring everyone got out safely.
Plans for the redevelopment of Vicarage Field were revealed, featuring 855 new flats on top of a new shopping centre as well as a hotel and a three-form entry primary school complete with rooftop playground.
The borough was left reeling after Dagenham scout Jodie Chesney was killed as she hung out with friends in a Harold Hill park. Two teenagers were later jailed for life after being found guilty of murder.
And Prince Harry visited Dagenham to officially open the Future Youth Zone.
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