Video: Campaigners march on City Hall against Dagenham prison plans
- Credit: Archant
Prison campaigners marched on City Hall today to send a clear message that plans to build a 2,000 capacity facility in the borough were not welcome.
Dagenham MP Jon Cruddas and Assembly Member for city and east John Biggs led local councillors and concerned residents to London Mayor Boris Johnson’s headquarters to hand over a petition signed by more than 10,000 people.
It is the latest in a dedicated campaign to stop a so-called “super-prison” being built at Beam Park, Dagenham, which was first touted back in 2009 and seemingly quashed before being revived again in April this year.
Deputy Mayor for planning Sir Edward Lister, who received the petition, was described as “neutral” about the prison plans by Mr Cruddas who said this was “progress” but emphasised that still more needed to be done.
“I fear that sunless we remain vigilant they will drop this prison on us,” he said.
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“There are real concerns from local residents about it being set in a residential area rather than other options. There are technical issues about it being on the flood plain.
“Why those objections have been overcome and they are now going to have a bigger prison there I don’t know.”
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He said prime minister David Cameron had “gone back on his word” after the Conservative leader claimed there would be no prison built in Dagenham while on the election trail in Rush Green back in 2010.
He also accused Westminster and the Greater London Authority of a “dash for cash” in freeing up “high value land” containing prisons in central London and replacing them with “warehouses” further out.
John Biggs AM said the Beam Park site had long been planned for industrial use, adding: “It’s the wrong place for the wrong proposal.
“We shouldn’t use east London for the things that other people don’t want.
“We need to make clear this is not a party issue, it’s about a community that doesn’t want to have a prison dumped on its doorstep.”
The petition, which is still receiving signatures, was also handed in to officials at the Ministry of Justice.