Politicians share thoughts on east London at City Hall event

Unmesh Desai addresses the audience at the City Hall event. Picture: Sophie Morton

Unmesh Desai addresses the audience at the City Hall event. Picture: Sophie Morton - Credit: Sophie Morton

“London is moving east. We’re already there and everyone has to follow.”

That’s the verdict from Barking and Dagenham Council leader Darren Rodwell, one of a series of speakers sharing their views on east London at a City Hall event.

Guests from the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Tower Hamlets, as well as the City of London, heard about the advantages of the area and what those living and working there have to look forward to.

Cllr Rodwell told the audience: “East London has always been the powerhouse of London, whether it be the docks, in the factories. We make the country.

“We’re carrying on that tradition. The docks may have gone, the factories may have closed, but together we are forging a new future.”

He highlighted Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the Canary Wharf business district as a legacy to build on, and added: “I will not allow Brexit to destroy the east London culture.”

Other speakers at last night’s (Monday) event, hosted by London Assembly Member for City and East, Unmesh Desai, included East Ham MP Stephen Timms.

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He described east London as the “opportunity part” of the capital and added: “We’ve got the sites, we’ve got the people, we’ve got the transport links.

“There is a lot more to do, we do need progress on housing, but a huge amount has been achieved.”

Mayor of Tower Hamlets John Biggs spoke about east London being a “magic place where historically we’ve brought people in at the bottom end”.

He added: “People have come as migrants and they start somewhere really modest where they gradually work their way up and move to such suburban delights as Barking.”

He highlighted challenges facing his borough, including child poverty and a low household income, but said that people living there “loved the vibrancy and diversity of the place”.

Mr Desai said of Monday night’s event: “East London has such a rich heritage and we want to ensure that any progress doesn’t erase that but rather adds to it.

“We don’t want any individual or any community left behind, and this event was about ensuring we seize the opportunities before us for every east Londoner, not the few lucky ones.”