Double cycling Guinness World Record holder launches cycling support service for survivors of modern slavery and human trafficking

Gordon Miller, a double Cycling Guinness World Record Holder, will launch the ‘Freewheel by Ride For Freedom Hub’ in Barking & Dagenham on 25 March 2022. The opening will take place on the UN International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade with a cycle starting at Dagenham & Redbridge FC.

The route will go via Barking Town Hall and take in several anti-slavery landmarks before finishing at the Buxton Memorial at Victoria Tower Gardens beside the Houses of Parliament, SW1.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “This borough has historically led the way in fighting for justice, equality and decency, which is why we’re proud to support Gordon and his superb campaigning against the scourge of modern-day slavery.”

The Freewheel remediation programme empowers survivors – women, children and men – of modern slavery and human trafficking to cycle to support their physical and mental health, independence, mobility, and their reintegration into society. At Freewheel Barking & Dagenham, during 2022, 20-30 survivors, referred by charities Hesta and STOP THE TRAFFIK, will be given a bike and accessories and training in cycling proficiency and road awareness. The training will be delivered by Vandome Cycles, through the national cycle training programme, Bikeability.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director for Be First, the borough’s regeneration arm, said: “Gordon’s work in the fight against modern slavery is truly inspiring. We’re proud to support him and The Freewheel programme which is an outstanding example of providing practical help to the victims of modern day slavery. It’s deeds not words which count.”

Miller, who is the Founder and Team Leader of Ride For Freedom, will be joined on 25 March by more than 20 cyclists from the Freewheel Barking & Dagenham Hub’s partners, including Be First, Berkeley Homes, Countryside Properties, EcoWorld, L&Q, Wates, Weston Homes, and Willmott Dixon. Councillor Darren Rodwell, the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, will meet up with the cyclists alongside non-cycling representatives from the contractors, Ride For Freedom’s charity partners and Barking & Dagenham Cycling Club.

He said: “Slavery was abolished almost 200 years ago (1833) but modern slavery remains all around us, often hidden in plain sight. More than 40 million people worldwide are enslaved at any given time and thousands in the U.K. Today, the UN International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, I’m delighted that Ride For Freedom and our Barking & Dagenham Freewheel Hub partners have come together to launch the Hub, and harness the universal appeal of cycling to unite our voices and advocate to ‘End Modern Slavery’.”

Convent conversion is second to none

A former convent which has been redeveloped to provide 29 affordable homes for local people has received the thumbs up from the Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council and Deputy Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council this week.

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council said: “I absolutely love the refurbishment of Sacred Heart – it really is second to none.

“It’s been sensitively done and has retained some wonderful original features including, the bell tower.”

And Councillor Dominic Twomey, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance & Core Services, said: “We said we would move heaven and earth to provide great new affordable homes for local people and we have.”

The 29 homes, all at affordable rents, include 3 one-bedroom flats, 5 two-bedroom flats and 1 three-bedroom flat, plus 1 one-bedroom house, 10 two-bedroom houses, 8 three-bedroom house, and 1 four-bedroom house.

Richard Mullaney, Murphy Project Manager, said: “Murphy’s purpose is to improve life in the communities where we live and work by delivering world-class infrastructure, and this project has enabled us to do exactly that. As a family-owned business, we live by our ‘One Murphy, one family, one team’ value, and we are so pleased to be involved. We have retained the historic character of the convent and transformed it into new homes for local families.”

Shane Flynn, Construction Manager at Be First, said: “This project was a unique opportunity for Barking and Dagenham Council to re-purpose a much-loved historic building.

“Bringing the beautiful Sacred Heart Convent and chapel back to life has been made even more exciting by also creating colourful, much needed, family houses, connected by a playful, child-friendly landscape.”

Three Lions’ estate marks delivery of 2,000th affordable home in proud East London borough

An east London resident has spoken of her pride to be moving into a home named after legendary England captain Bobby Moore.

Maria Alejandra Noguer Zabala moved into her newly completed home in February at Bobby Moore Court, which is part of a wider development featuring three blocks named after three legendary sporting icons, Bobby Moore OBE, Martin Peters MBE and Sir Alf Ramsey.

Her new home, delivered for Barking and Dagenham Council by its regeneration company Be First, is one of more than 2,000 affordable homes that are being delivered over the last four years in the Borough.

Maria, who welcomed Barking and Dagenham Council Leader, Darren Rodwell to her flat in Upney, said: “I am really happy with my new home and it’s a privilege to live in a place named after someone as famous as Bobby Moore.”

Cllr Rodwell said: “It’s great to meet María and see her and her family settling in so well in Bobby Moore Court and I hope they have a great life living here in a place honoured after three local legends who did England so proud.

“Delivering more than 2,000 affordable homes in four years is a huge achievement and a lasting legacy to Bobby and the team. Just as they delivered the cup in ‘66, we are knocking it out of the park in 2022.”

Roberta Moore, daughter of Bobby, said: “I am so glad that Maria has found a great home and wish her every happiness there. I am delighted that Darren and the council named the blocks after my father, Martin and Sir Alf. Dad – like them all – would have been truly humbled as he was proud to be from Barking and east London.”

Community shop aims to breathe new life into the Heathway

A shop with a difference opened in the Heathway shopping centre in Dagenham today.

Rather than selling goods or services, this brightly decorated new store will be collecting ideas.

The shop unit will be the base for a team of people who hope to bring residents and businesses in the area together to share opinions and aspirations in order to develop a community vision for Dagenham Heathway.

The team of community engagement specialists from Urban Symbiotics has been commissioned by the Council’s regeneration organisation, Be First, to start a conversation with local people about how to breathe new life into the bustling neighbourhood.

They started with pop-up street stalls but have now moved into the much warmer shop unit, from where they hope to develop ideas that will drive and guide the regeneration of the heart of Dagenham.

James Stewart, of Urban Symbiotics, explains: “We’ve immersed ourselves in the Heathway, neighbourhood and we’ve heard a lot about how people want to make the area a better place to shop, work, live and come together.

“Our new home in the mall will allow us to take this further by providing a base for drop-in sessions and to host a community panel to identify, champion and deliver local initiatives. We’ll work with local people to draw up a vision for the area and then turn the talk into action.”

Councillor Donna Lumsden, said: “It’s great to see the shop open as we want to listen to people’s hopes, fears and priorities for the regeneration of Dagenham Heathway.

“It’ll help us draw up a vision and action plan to determine things like the provision of community facilities, how we support and expand retail and businesses, and the sort of public spaces that are needed for Dagenham Heathway to flourish. It’s important that any change is designed and managed to benefit the residents and businesses of the local area.

The shop features a stunning mural by local artist, Susanna Wallis, which illustrates many of the ideas and concerns that local people have already submitted. “I hope that my work captures just how lively the community is here,” she said. “I’ve attempted to bring to life some of the themes that are emerging from the community conversation.”

The shop can be found at Unit 30 Heathway Shopping Centre, The Mall Heathway, Dagenham, RM10 8RE and it is open to the public on Thursdays from 10am-4pm.

A great school makes a great place

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council met pupils from Greatfields School in Barking this week to see how they were settling into their newly completed classrooms this week.

Students moved into a £23 million building which forms the main part of the secondary school which is at the heart of the Gascoigne neighbourhood.

The new building covers 10,000 square metres and includes 50 new classrooms, a main hall, sports hall, library, office and administration space.

Cllr Rodwell said: “It’s fantastic to see the building of Greatfields Secondary School completed and a real pleasure to meet the students.

“Visiting Greatfields today in the heart of the new Gascoigne reinforces a truism that a great school makes a great place.”

Cllr Rodwell met Head Teacher Richard Paul and pupils who helped design a ‘meanwhile park’, as part of an engagement project run by Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm.

Richard Paul said: “We are absolutely delighted to have moved into this fantastic new building and there is a sense of pride amongst staff, students and parents that we have such a wonderful building in the heart of the community.

“The new facilities will give our young people access to opportunities they have not previously had, including a state-of-the-art library, sports hall, dance and drama studios, and we look forward to welcoming the community to share these facilities with us.

“We are also delighted that our young people are being given a voice in the design of some of the spaces within the neighbourhood – it is their community after all.”

Sadia Ur-Rehman, Community Engagement Lead at Be First, said: “This project has been really important to us to ensure young people are part of the changes that are happening in their neighbourhood. We want to create spaces that young people want to see and be in.

“During the process, the students have provided us with new perspectives on the place where they live. They have been a source of inspiration and ideas to reinvent a space that will be used by all ages in the community.”

Greatfields School was built by Mid-Group on behalf of the Barking and Dagenham Council and Thames Learning Partnership. Funding was provided by the council and the DfE. Mid Group embraced new technologies to design and build the new school to produce a minimal carbon footprint.

Steve Hearn of CEO of Mid-Group said: “We’re proud to have been part of the Greatfields project which is an inspirational school in the heart of one of the most inspirational and go-ahead boroughs in London.”

The redevelopment of the Gascoigne neighbourhood will see the delivery of over 2,100 new homes. It will be among the greenest, most liveable places in London and will feature great affordable homes, new treelined roads and courtyards safe for pedestrians and cyclists.

The neighbourhood is modelled on a ‘15-minute neighbourhood’, meaning residents have all the transport, retail, educational and leisure facilities, and opportunities they need within a short stroll.

Cllr Rodwell said: “Building the new Gascoigne is not just about bricks and mortar – it’s about hearts and minds. It’s about building a better neighbourhood for all.”

Technicolour dream crossing brightens up the school run

A multi-coloured road crossing has added a bright new twist to the journey to school for pupils of William Bellamy primary.

The crossing, introduced by Becontree Heath Low Emissions Zone project team, aims to improve road safety and encourage children and parents to walk to school more regularly.

Victoria Spashett, Be First’s Project Manager for the Low Emissions Zone, explains: “Parents tell us that road safety is one of parents’ main worries when thinking about their children walking to school. So, our technicolour dream crossing was chosen by the children to encourage them to be more positive about walking and crossing at a single location on Stour Road, and to lessen people’s reliance on cars for the school run.”

Georgina Nottage, Rights Respecting Ambassador at William Bellamy School, added: “Even small amounts of exercise – such as walking to school – are proven to be not only beneficial to pupil’s health but also to their learning, so we are delighted to have this extra crossing as part of a package of measures to encourage active travel in and around our school.”

Councillors Sade Bright and Olawale Martins met pupils and staff at the school to hear more.

“I was really pleased to hear about how the children have been involved in this project and their enthusiasm for it,” said Councillor Bright. “It’s vital that children and parents feel safe on the streets. And, if we can reduce school run traffic, we can free-up space for everyone else, reduce pollution and improve the health and well-being of our children.”

Matthew Revell, Managing Director of Marlborough Highways said: “We were very keen to support the Becontree Heath Low Emissions Zone project team with their ambitions to improve road safety and promote walking to school. We hope our contribution will help to make a real difference to the community and we look forward to working with William Bellamy Primary School again in the near future.”

The crossing is part of a package of interventions designed to improve air quality in Becontree Heath, which include activities designed to encourage ‘active travel’, such as walking and cycling, through the provision of free learn to ride sessions, cycle parking and environmental projects such as new benches, tree planting and bee corridors.

The technicoloured crossing official status is an ‘informal crossing’ and it is being used as a pilot project and will be closely monitored by a sensor that captures information about speed and volume of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. Residents and the school community will be invited to share their thoughts and feedback to establish its impact on traffic and safety, and if it is successful, it may be introduced more widely. The sensor does not collect any personal data/registration information.

The Low Emissions Neighbourhood project is TFL funded with support from The Mayor’s Air Quality Fund, delivered in partnership with Be First and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

East London council continues proud tradition

East London council continues proud tradition

Barking and Dagenham is still building ‘exceptional ‘homes for ordinary people said Cllr Sade Bright this week after she viewed 19 new affordable homes on the iconic Becontree Estate this week.

The cabinet member for employment, skills and aspiration, said: “Around 100 years ago the first bricks were laid to build homes for heroes on the Becontree Estate.

“And this week we celebrate the building of more quality, council owned homes for a new generation of Londoners.

“It shows Barking and Dagenham is continuing its proud tradition of building exceptional homes for everyday people.”

The new development, 200 Becontree Avenue, was designed by Archio and features two villas comprising 19 homes which are in keeping with the style of the Becontree Estate. The homes are set to be completed this month and ready for tenants to move in later this spring.

Sarah Beth Riley, Associate Architect at Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm said: “200 Becontree Avenue is an exemplar scheme which sensitively responds to its surroundings and is the result of our inclusive approach of working with the local community to build on the proud legacy of the Becontree Estate.”

Peter Murray OBE, board member at Be First and Curator-in-Chief of New London Architecture (NLA), said: “The council and Be First have ensured people are at the heart of this development with its sensitive design and spacious landscaping.

“It upholds Barking and Dagenham’s noble tradition of building great, affordable homes for working people as well as commissioning the best designers to deliver them.”

Kyle Buchanan, Director at Archio said: “These buildings are the product of detailed research and stakeholder engagement. We wanted to produce homes that people would feel proud to live in, while also tapping into the overall pride felt for the estate.

“Becontree represents some of the best and most ambitious house building ever undertaken by the LCC and it’s been an honour to be a part of this new initiative by Barking and Dagenham Council to rekindle that spirit for the area.”

The development includes 13 one-bedroom, four two-bedroom, two three-bedroom flats and a community space plus a ‘playstreet’ runs alongside the homes linking to a nursery.

Home is where the art is – and it’s in the heart of Barking

Councillor Darren Rodwell, Leader of the Council, met up with a new tenant of Barking’s unique ‘A House for Artists’ today (Monday 14 March).

Cllr Rodwell met local photographer Jimmy Lee who is set to move into his new apartment in the Grayson Perry backed arts development.

Cllr Rodwell said: “It’s great to meet Jimmy, a hugely talented local photographer who I am glad to see is settling in so well in this brilliant House for Artists.”

Jimmy said: “I am really happy to finally be moving into this superb development, it is personally really important to me as I was born and bred here and work with a lot of the community.

“Not only has it helped me stay in the borough close to my parents, but it will also enable me to produce art with local residents that reflects a borough bursting with local talent, culture and attitude through all generations that live here.

“And hopefully the east end art from this house will inspire more working-class people like myself from this borough and beyond to express themselves and get creative.”

A House for Artists is the only development of its type in the country. It features 12 apartments at subsidised rent for artists and features ground floor studio space for the artists to work with the local community, initially in partnership with Create London.

It forms part of Barking and Dagenham Council’s plans to support home-grown talent and to attract artists and craftspeople to the borough, and has been supported by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who has invested £690,000 towards the project.

Cllr Rodwell said: “The House for Artists is not only great for creatives but also for the wider community who will be able to access educational projects provided by artists living there.

“It’s also part of our drive to make Barking and Dagenham a creative powerhouse in London – we already have Eastbrook Studios in Dagenham on the way and also The Wharf Studios alongside a vibrant arts community along the banks of the River Roding.

“So, it’s a case of move over Hoxton, Hackney or Berlin – it’s Barking and Dagenham where the art’s at.”

A House for Artists is commissioned by Create London and funded by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD) and the Mayor of London, and delivered by Be First (working on behalf of LBBD).

Countryside and L&Q complete partnership deal with Barking and Dagenham Council to speed up housing delivery on Beam Park

Leading mixed-tenure developer Countryside and leading housing association L&Q have completed the sale of 936 homes at Beam Park to Barking and Dagenham Council, in a deal which will be crucial in accelerating much-needed housing delivery on their 72-acre regeneration of a former Ford manufacturing plant in east London.
In one of the largest bulk housing acquisitions made by a local authority, Barking and Dagenham Council will acquire 936 homes in three future phases of Beam Park, of which 50% will be affordable housing and 50% market rental homes.
The agreement creates an exciting new partnership at Beam Park, a joint venture between Countryside and L&Q which is successfully transforming the derelict site of a former Ford manufacturing plant into a new and vibrant destination, in partnership with landowner the Mayor of London.
Beam Park is one of only three regeneration schemes in London delivering at least 3,000 homes and providing 50% high quality affordable housing (including shared ownership, London Living Rent and London Affordable rent homes) to meet the need of local communities. The first two phases of the development are well underway, with 1,154 homes currently under construction of which 235 homes are now completed.
When fully complete Beam Park will have extensive facilities including two schools, retail spaces, a gym, a nursery, a multi-faith centre and two state-of-the-art energy centres. 44% of the development has been allocated for publicly accessible green space, which includes a 3.5-hectare central park in the heart of the development with the River Beam running through it.
Kevin Delve, Managing Director, East London, Partnerships South, Countryside, said: “Through working in effective partnerships Countryside aims to create places people love and new affordable homes that provide opportunities for today’s society. This partnership with Barking and Dagenham Council enables us to accelerate the delivery of new homes, helping to meet the demand for high-quality housing in the borough. The first phases of Beam Park have already been transformed from a former Ford factory into a thriving new community, and we are looking forward to repeating this success on future phases.”
Kevin Harris, Director of Project Management and Development at L&Q said: “We’re delighted to welcome Barking and Dagenham Council to Beam Park – an important deal which will accelerate the delivery of much needed new homes at one of East London’s most exciting emerging neighbourhoods. We’ve enjoyed an excellent relationship with the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham over the years, and we’re looking forward to extending our partnership with this deal.”
Ed Skeates, Development Director at Be First, which helped broker the deal, said: “The Beam Park project will transform this part of London and is so large it straddles two boroughs.
“So far all the works have been in Havering and with this deal we have been able to accelerate the project significantly and will now see the development start in Barking and Dagenham on a major scale.”

Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, said: “This is a great deal which will see nearly a thousand homes for local people, half of which will be affordable, built on this former Ford site.
“It’s part of a massive shift in gear in the regeneration of Dagenham which will also be home to London’s largest film studios, two huge data centres and the groundbreaking UCL Pearl building.

“No longer will Dagenham be famous for Ford and factories but also film, technology and great homes for everyday people.”

Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development, Tom Copley, said: “We are delighted to be working with Barking and Dagenham Council to help bring forward much needed homes for Londoners, 50 per cent of which will be affordable. Beam Park will be a thriving new neighbourhood for Dagenham, providing high-quality green spaces, schools, retail and community facilities.”

East London innovation taking off by the river

Building work at an innovative industrial and residential development in Barking is beginning to take off.

And to see how work is progressing at the site on Thames Road this week was leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Cllr Darren Rodwell.

Cllr Rodwell said: “It’s great to see buildings beginning to take shape in what will be a fantastic industrial and residential development which will deliver 156 affordable homes and great opportunities for local people and entrepreneurs.

“It’s quite apt that the new development is being built just yards away from where the UK’s first aircraft factory was built – it shows once again that a new era of industrial innovation is beginning to take off in Barking and Dagenham.”

Cllr Rodwell earlier met Carl Adams of builders McLaren and James Molloy of groundworks and reinforced concrete frame contractor Corbyn Construction at their factory by the River Roding, less than 500 metres away from the development on Thames Road.

Corbyn is currently supplying McLaren with the precast concrete columns which are installed at the development.

Cllr Rodwell said: “I am very impressed that locally made concrete is being used on the development at Thames Road. It keeps wealth in the local economy by employing local companies to create homes and new businesses – it’s a completion of a virtuous circle.”

McLaren Construction is also building Crown House for Be First. Project director Carl Adams comments, “McLaren is proud to be working on two of the most prominent new landmarks in Barking and to be involving local businesses and people wherever possible. We have kept these ambitious public sector projects on track regardless of the pandemic and serious cost inflation, making sure that Be First’s vision for reinventing this site is realised on schedule.”
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Ben Green, Senior Development Manager at Be First said: “Utilising Barking’s excellent local supply chain during construction has been a long-term ambition for Be First, as it boosts the local economy and reduces emissions due to shorter delivery distances.

“Mixing employment and residential uses has presented design challenges to the project team, and we are proud of the innovative solutions we have used in the scheme being delivered for the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

The development at 12 Thames Road will include 156 homes, including 77 homes at London Affordable Rent and 79 homes 80 per cent below market rate, and 50,000sqft of new modern employment floorspace.