Local elections 2014: What issues are highest on parents’ agendas in Barking and Dagenham?

Left to right: Paul Howard, 38, Samuel Howard, six, Marry Karim, 29, Keran Howard, two, and Tim Hunt

Left to right: Paul Howard, 38, Samuel Howard, six, Marry Karim, 29, Keran Howard, two, and Tim Hunt, 33, holding Natalia Hunt, three months (pic: David Mirzoeff) - Credit: Archant

With a school places crisis gripping the borough, the Post went down to a children’s centre to find out what issues were highest on parents’ agendas in the run-up to the local elections.

We visited Eastbury Children’s Centre, Blake Avenue, Barking, and spoke to couple Paul Howard, 38, and Mary Karin, 29, who together have two sons – Samuel, six, and Keran, two.

Mary said: “There aren’t many [school] places, but to be honest we haven’t had much problem with that. There are other people in this area who are having trouble, however.”

The couple said they were normally Labour voters but had turned to the Conservatives in the past.

Mary said she had once voted for the British National Party (BNP), though admitted regretting it, adding: “I voted BNP once because I didn’t want to vote for anybody else. I just voted for any stupid one, which I shouldn’t have done.”

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Dad-of-two Tim Hunt, 33, said he was more pressingly concerned with dirty needles being left out in his street than the school places crisis for his young son and three-month-old daughter.

He said there was also a lot of litter in the street, adding: “In terms of what the council can do about these things, it’s quite easy, but in terms of other matters such as school places the council is quite limited in what powers they have.”

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Tim said he did not “make a habit” of voting but would cast his mark this year “if only to stop the BNP”.

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