Buckle up for the Barking BikeFest

It’s just days away from what will be one of London’s biggest sporting events this weekend when professional cyclists on ITV 4’s Tour Series come to Barking on Saturday, 21 May.

It’s been three years since the series last visited the capital and as part the day, Be First and Barking and Dagenham Council will be hosting the Barking BikeFest.

Sponsored by Amazon Key the event will be a wider celebration of cycling and sustainability.

And for the first time ever, the Tour Series will be giving equal billing to women’s and men’s races.

To celebrate this Cllr Darren Rodwell, Leader of Barking and Dagenham Council will be presenting the winner of the women’s race with the Mary Wollstonecraft Cup – honouring the pioneering feminist who once lived in the borough.

Cllr Darren Rodwell said: “It’s great such a top sporting event is coming to Barking and hopefully visitors and local people will be able to enjoy a fabulous festival of fun and entertainment in the stunning, historic setting of Abbey Green. I am especially proud to be presenting the Mary Wollstonecraft Cup – it’s apt as this borough has always led from the front in fighting for justice and fairness from the suffragettes to the Ford women strikers.”

Mick Bennett, Tour Series race director, said: “The countdown to the Barking BikeFest is now well and truly on! This family-friendly, free-to-attend festival is going to unforgettable, topped off with the sight of seeing Britain’s fastest men and women battling it out to take Tour Series glory. Don’t miss it!”

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said: “The Barking BikeFest will be a unique event which will celebrate cycling and sustainability. I am sure it will be a great day out for Londoners in what will hopefully be a glorious late spring day.”
The Barking BikeFest will run from 11am to 9pm around the historic Abbey Green on Saturday 21 May and will also include:   
• Community racing for all ages and abilities – there is still time to sign up. Anyone interested should go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bikefest-community-races-registration-314421783017. The races are sponsored by Willmott Dixon and Weston Homes
• Marvellous music from Kasai Masai, whose lead singer has played at Glastonbury, Roberto Pla, who has performed with the like of Kate Bush, and Redonizm
• Kid’s Zone, there will be plenty for them to do, with entertainment from Kid’s People, arts and crafts
• Electric Avenue – showcasing green technology including e-bikes, electric cars and Bin Bot – a giant green robot!
• BMX and mountain bike display team from the daredevils of Fusion Extreme who will be wowing the crowd with their stunts
• Inflatable goal for penalty takers laid on by the community team from Dagenham and Redbridge FC

Further details are available here

Trailblazing planning team in tight fight for top award

Be First’s Planning Consultancy team has been shortlisted for the RTPI’s ‘Small Consultancy of the Year’ award, today.

The team were shortlisted for the prestigious award because of their excellent delivery and work in delivering a socially responsible model of urban regeneration.

Anna Sinnott, Director of Planning Consultancy at Be First, said: “It’s a real thrill to be shortlisted for this award. The team has grown from strength to strength since we set up and have provided our clients with an excellent, efficient, and resilient planning solutions.

“This nomination is a testament to the team’s professionalism and talent and their close working relationships with their clients.

“But most importantly, it demonstrates that we are on the right track in bringing real regeneration to the people of Barking and Dagenham.”

The winners will be announced in July at the RTPI London Planning Awards for Excellence.

Amazon Key to sponsor unique East London cycling event

Amazon Key has today been announced as the headline sponsor of the Barking BikeFest next month which will feature the only London leg of the Tour Series cycling race which is televised on ITV4.

Amazon Key provides safe, secure and convenient deliveries to customers enhancing the Amazon delivery experience for staff and residents of apartment buildings.

It is a further commitment to the borough by Amazon which opened a new delivery station in Barking in November last year, serving customers based in the Barking area. The delivery station has created more than 50 permanent jobs, in addition to hundreds of driver opportunities for Amazon Logistics’ delivery service partners and Amazon Flex delivery partners.

Amazon Key will join Weston Homes, Countryside and L&Q, Willmott Dixon, and the Project Centre as sponsors of the event.  

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic that Amazon Key has decided to sponsor the Barking BikeFest and shows their commitment to Barking and Dagenham.   

“The Barking BikeFest will be a unique event which will celebrate cycling and sustainability and will for the first time give prominence to women’s cycling with the presentation of Mary Wollstonecraft Cup to the winner in honour of the pioneering feminist who once lived in the borough. I am sure it will be a great day out for east Londoners in what will hopefully be a glorious Spring day.”

Mick Bennett, Tour Series race director, said: “We’re super excited that Barking and Dagenham will be hosting the London leg of the Tour Series. The historic Barking Abbey will provide an amazing backdrop to the Tour Series for the thousands of visitors and cycling fans that we expect on the day.  We commend the commitment of Be First, the council and their sponsors to create a whole celebration of cycling, healthy living and green travel to complement the Tour Series – it’s bold, ambitious and far sighted.”

Winners of the women’s race will receive the Mary Wollstonecraft Cup after the pioneering feminist who once lived in the borough.   

The Barking BikeFest will run from 11am to 9pm around the historic Abbey Green on Saturday 21 May
and will also include:   

• Community BikeFest –participation events on the race-course for local people  
• The Green Village – community fun and entertainment on Abbey Green  
• Electric Avenue – showcasing green travel technology 

Further details are available from https://yourcall.befirst.london/the-barking-bikefest

A chance to cycle with the professionals

Be First has issued a clarion call to cyclists of all ages and abilities to grab a chance to race around Abbey Green as part of the Barking BikeFest next month.

Barking and Dagenham Council’s regeneration arm is urging budding bikers to sign up to the community cycle races for various age groups ranging from under 8s to adult novices.

The Barking BikeFest, which takes place on 21 May at Abbey Green, will host the only London leg of the televised and professional cycling Tour Series, together with a range of displays and activities on the theme of cycling and sustainability.

Pat Hayes, Managing Director of Be First, said: “At Be First we’re committed to inclusiveness, which is why the Barking BikeFest will not only include elite racing but also community races for all ages and abilities.

“By making sure BikeFest is open to all we hope to instil a love of cycling and a lasting legacy of healthy living in Barking and Dagenham.”

The community races are supported by local developer Weston Homes and construction company Willmott Dixon, with the assistance of the Barking and Dagenham Cycle Club and the inclusive cycling team at Trailnet.

Bob Weston, Chairman of Weston Homes, said: “This a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for local people to race on the same circuit as many of the UK’s top cyclists and to have a great day out, so we’re delighted to be involved.”

Chris Tredget, Managing Director at Willmott Dixon said: “We’re heavily involved with the local community though our work building new homes in the Gascoigne neighbourhood of Barking, so we’re really excited to be providing a chance for local children to get involved in this exciting event.”

Anyone interested in taking part in the community races can register at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bikefest-community-races-registration-314421783017

For more details go to https://yourcall.befirst.london/the-barking-bikefest/news_feed/latest-news

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.