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Ford striker joins candlelit ‘vigil’ for Dagenham Civic Centre amid calls for cross-party campaign

PUBLISHED: 11:40 26 February 2015 | UPDATED: 10:30 27 February 2015

Jon Cruddas will hold a candlelit 'vigil' to protest against proposals to turn Dagenham's Civic Centre into a school

Jon Cruddas will hold a candlelit 'vigil' to protest against proposals to turn Dagenham's Civic Centre into a school

Archant

One of the sewing machinists involved in the Ford Dagenham strikes is lending her support to a stunt aiming to save Dagenham Civic Centre from redevelopment.

The Civic Centre was mooted for conversion into a school last year, before allegedly being 'saved' by council leader Darren Rodwell - only for a motion apparently supporting its development to be passed by cabinet. Picture: Arnaud StephensonThe Civic Centre was mooted for conversion into a school last year, before allegedly being 'saved' by council leader Darren Rodwell - only for a motion apparently supporting its development to be passed by cabinet. Picture: Arnaud Stephenson

Dora Challingsworth will take part in a candlelit “vigil” organised by Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas outside the building next month.

Her support comes as Julie Marson, the Conservative candidate hoping to snatch Mr Cruddas’s seat in May’s elections, has called for a cross-party campaign.

The Civic Centre, at the junction of Rainham Road North and Wood Lane, is believed to be earmarked for conversion into a school by Barking and Dagenham Council – despite indications last year that the proposal had been dropped under the weight of resistance.

Its conversion has been suggested as a means of finding savings for frontline services amid £53.5million cuts.

But Mr Cruddas has said that although he understands that cuts need to be made, “some things are more important than money”.

“The building is not only representative of Dagenham’s history, it is also a place of work for more than 550 people, many of them local residents,” he added.

But Ms Marson has accused Mr Cruddas of turning the fate of the Civic Centre into a matter of “party politics” by linking it to government cuts.

“The Civic Centre belongs to the whole community, not just Labour supporters,” she said. “With the whole community united, it puts even more pressure on Labour’s Barking and Dagenham Council to recognise the strength of feeling in Dagenham and change its mind.”

The candlelit vigil, which will be attended by trade union representatives from across the borough, will take place on March 19 from 6.30pm.

A 3,000-strong petition calling for the building to be saved will be presented to the council the following week.


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