Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas attacks handling of Sanofi-site mosque proposal
- Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima
Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas has attacked the handling of possible plans to build a mosque on the former Sanofi site, as revealed by the Post.
Following a meeting with council leader Cllr Darren Rodwell last month, trustees of the May and Baker Eastbrook Community Club agreed in principal to the siting of a building adjacent to the north east area of their car park, subject to a planning application.
But Mr Cruddas – an honorary member of the club – believes local residents have the right to know what the future holds for the land.
“I’m disappointed that it has fallen to rumour and speculation to bring this to my attention without the courtesy of informing me, or local residents,” he said.
When the pharmaceutical giants left the site in 2013, 50 acres of land was donated to the borough – now leased to the community club – with the remainder set to be used for job-creation.
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Although the area in question is not part of the regeneration site, the Labour MP believes any developments should put employment first.
“We shouldn’t abandon local regeneration goals just because a few businesses have knocked back use of the site,” he added.
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“I think we should be looking at all possible avenues that have the potential to bring local jobs for local people on this site and in the surrounding area.”
The former Labour policy coordinator says he will be contacting the club’s board this week to talk about the plans for the site, and will also seek a meeting with Barking and Dagenham Council chief executive Chris Naylor.
“In normal circumstances I am not averse to a religious building of any denomination being built, as long as the plans have gone down the proper consultation channels with the public,” he explained.
But Cllr Rodwell insists it is not an issue for the council.
“I would like to make it clear that at this stage, this is a matter for the trustees of the May and Baker Eastbrook Community Club,” he said.
“Any discussion on developments or proposals on the site will be for them to decide on.
“The council is not responsible for deciding what goes where but is required by law to act only in relation to planning considerations.
“If and when a planning application is submitted then it would as with any planning application be open for public discussion and scrutiny.”
Chairman of the club’s trustees, Steve Thompson, 55, says he hopes to arrange a meeting with Mr Cruddas, Cllr Rodwell and the three Eastbrook ward councillors.
“We wouldn’t be opposed to a prayer room being built there, provided it’s in keeping with the surrounding area and passes planning regulations,” he said.
“Any public concerns can be aired at the planning application stage.”