Q&A: My Barking and Dagenham - Joan Rawlinson, Thames Ward councillor of 16 years
PUBLISHED: 17:00 14 September 2019
Joan Rawlinson was councillor for what became Thames Ward for 16 years. Now as vice chairwoman of the Scrattons Farm Residents' Association, she speaks to reporter Luke Acton
What is your connection to the borough?
I have lived here pretty much all my life. My mother was born in Perth Road, Barking in 1925. I started the residents' association in 1988. I've been working in the community for many years now, trying to change things for the better as best I could. Becoming a councillor was a big highlight with regards to what I have done in the borough. It's a great opportunity to make changes if you can. My main aim was to be able to help people - I could never take injustice.
What's the best thing about living or working in the borough?
Green space, really. We are very lucky in this borough that we have lots of parks, lots of green space, lots for the community. It's a lovely community. There's a sense of belonging and there's a lot of recreation for young people and it's a pleasant place to live. If I had the choice of any east London borough, it would be where I'm living. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
What one thing would you change?
If I had the power, I would stop building so many high-rise flats. Take Barking, for example. It's a lovely area, very historic and they're putting lots of high-rises up. I think we should take more care of our heritage, it's not being thought about. We've got lots of buildings that aren't being thought about that are being over-shadowed. Most of the properties are for sale. Most of the people [here] can't afford it.
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Use three words to describe the area.Dirty, historic and green
Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?
The most marvellous person I have ever met, that was the Queen. It was wonderful; I'll remember that for the rest of my life. It was when she visited the borough on her golden jubilee at Eastbury Manor House. It was one of the greatest highlights of my political career. She's a lovely lady. Right from a small child, I was obsessed with her as a little girl and I had always wanted to meet her.
If you were prime minister, what law would you introduce?
We definitely need more police. I would bring back the local beat officers and the ones that go around the community. I feel very strongly that prevention is better than the cure. If any youngster is caught with a knife, they should do two years in the army.
If you were the editor of the Post, what issues would you focus on?
I would concentrate on the elderly, because they have shut down a lot of their town centres and bowling greens. There's a lot being done for youth, there's a brilliant new youth centre.
I would like to see an emphasis on the elderly, so they can get together and not be so isolated.