March 10 2014 Latest news:
Sara Odeen-Isbister , Senior Reporter
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Controversial plans to build a huge 2,000 inmate prison have been revealed, just three years after proposals for a smaller jail were scrapped.
Beam Reach Park, which straddles Rainham and Dagenham, is being considered as a possible site for a mega-prison, according to the Greater London Authority (GLA) which owns the land.
The site was earmarked for a 1,500 place jail in 2009, but the proposal was thrown out after fierce opposition to the move 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.”
Cllr Michael White, leader of Havering Council, has pledged to fight the plans again.
He said: “This Ccuncil has successfully opposed a prison in Rainham before, and we will oppose it again, if necessary. I have already written to the Mayor’s office, making it very clear that we see Beam Park as an area of great potential and a prison does not fit with that vision. I would expect the Ministry of Justice to look elsewhere for their prison site and I look forward to working with the Mayor’s office to secure an exciting future for Beam Park. I will be meeting Sir Edward Lister to discuss the issue.”
The GLA said Beam Park is “one of very few sites in London” which meet the requirements for such a prison.
It said the jail would “provide new jobs for residents of east London.”
It did not say how many, but it was predicted the 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.”
The site sits near the border of Rainham and Mr Cruddas urged Havering’s council and residents to oppose the move.