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Exclusive: Plans to build mega prison in Dagenham back on agenda

PUBLISHED: 12:05 17 April 2013 | UPDATED: 12:51 17 April 2013

The Beam Park site where the prison could be built

The Beam Park site where the prison could be built

Archant

Controversial plans to build a massive prison are back on the agenda, just three years after proposals for a smaller jail were scrapped.

Liam Smith and Jon Cruddas leading the celebrations after the previous prison plans were scrapped in 2010Liam Smith and Jon Cruddas leading the celebrations after the previous prison plans were scrapped in 2010

Beam Park in Dagenham, is being considered as a possible site for a mega 2,000-inmate prison, according to the Greater London Authority (GLA) which owns the land.

The site was earmarked for a 1,500-prisoner jail in 2009, but the proposal was thrown out after fierce opposition from the public and Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas. There were also concerns over costs and potential flooding.

Mr Cruddas, who presented a 15,000-signature petition against the initial plans to No 10, said: “It comes as a great disappointment to me that these proposals are being put forward again, when the local residents made their views on the issue perfectly clear three years ago.”

In a letter sent to Barking and Dagenham Council leader Liam Smith and seen by the Barking and Dagenham Post, the London Mayor’s office said Beam Park is “one of very few sites in London” which meet the requirements for such a prison.

The letter, sent last week, said the jail would “provide new jobs for residents of east London.”

There is no mention of how many, but it was predicted the 1,500-place jail would have created 800 positions.

Mr Cruddas added: “It is true that we need more job opportunities but this is not the way to introduce them.

“I will be working hard over the coming weeks and months to fight this decision, ensuring that all local residents have their say.”

Mr Smith, who also fought against the plans in 2009, said he was “bitterly disappointed” at the news.

“After the amazing campaign run by local residents last time, who made it perfectly clear what their views where on the matter, I am shocked and appalled that this issue would be back again,” he said.

“We need more job opportunities in the area but this is not going to be achieved by a prison. We need investment in new shops and more leisure facilities.”

The site sits near the border of Rainham and Mr Cruddas urged Havering’s council and residents to oppose the move.

A GLA spokesman said: “No decisions have been made about the future use of the Beam Park site. The government is looking to increase prison capacity across the country and various sites in the capital have been suggested.

“The London Mayor is mindful of local concerns and will continue to work closely with both councils to ensure the best possible use for this site going forward.”

What do you think about the prison plans? Comment below, email postnewsdesk@archant.co.uk or call 020 8477 3900.


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