Landmark ruling secures future of Dagenham’s Fanshawe Community Centre

Mina Rahman, Conservative candidate with Peter Bailey, chairperson and members of the commmunity.

Mina Rahman, Conservative candidate with Peter Bailey, chairperson and members of the commmunity. - Credit: Archant

In a landmark ruling for the borough, an embattled community centre deemed the “heart” of the area it serves has been saved from the threat of closure.

Fanshawe Community Centre, Barnmead Road, Dagenham, has been listed as an Asset of Community Value under new localism legislation – meaning the association running it will be given time to enter a bid should the council-owned centre be sold.

The listing – confirmed on Friday – is the first of its kind in the borough.

It comes off the back of months of campaigning which saw up to 6,000 residents petition against a cabinet decision in January to consider the “viability of marketing the site” for housing.

Chairman of the Fanshawe Community Association, Peter Bailey, said: “To me [this decision] is securing the groups future and that’s what it’s all about. It’s something to pass on as a legacy to the next lot.

“We have fought hard to build [the centre] up, it’s the heart of the community. We have actually got people here who have put their heart and soul into it.”

Fanshawe Community Centre has been in the borough for 30 years. It is home to a church, a mosque and a number of different groups from yoga to drama school and sees up to a thousand visitors a week.

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Saving the centre has become something of a political point-scoring exercise with both Labour and the Conservatives claiming a victory.

Conservative Mina Rahman, who will challenge for the Barking parliamentary seat next year, is credited with putting in the asset listing bid – part of the Localism Act 2011 – on behalf of the Fanshawe Community Supporters Group.

She said: “I want to protect them as they are the glue that binds our community together.”

But in a statement to the Post yesterday, council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell said the centre was never at risk as petitioners had been “assured of the future of the centre” when his administration came to power in May.

He said: “I gave my support for the campaign early this year and I have kept my word and walked the talk by asking that the decision be revisited.”

He added his cabinet was “determined to put community at the core of all its decisions” and would continue to “help maintain hubs which serve as a major source for people to come together as one”.

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