It's good news that the Ministry of Justice has called off plans to build a huge new prison at Beam Park on the border with Havering. The site had already been moved once after the incredible community campaign that saw thousands marching through the streets of Rainham to say no to the Rainham jail plan. The Government has apparently decided that the cost of flood alleviation on the Beam Park site meant that it was no longer affordable. The odd thing is that this should have been apparent from the outset. The area is identified by the Environment Agency as being at risk of flooding.
My own feeling is that the Government got cold feet knowing how unpopular the prison proposals were in both Rainham and in adjacent Dagenham and knowing that this would be an important issue in the general election campaign just weeks away. Whatever the reasons, the challenge now is to get on with the regeneration of this part of the Thames Gateway corridor. The area desperately needs new skilled employment opportunities. The prison was holding this back. Now that this uncertainty has finally gone and with the Kingsway International Christian Centre 'mega chuch' appeal having been rejected, the opportunity is there. For the future of Rainham and the surrounding area, this needs to be taken.