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Alok Agrawal
Robin Hood junction

Several residents have complained about dangerous driving and hazardous parking on the footpath and forecourts in front of the shops at the junction of Lodge Avenue and Longbridge Road. The Council has recently written to the shops about the increasing number of complaints regarding vehicles travelling along the forecourts and about the way vehicles are parking.

The letter to the shops states that it appears that the safety of pedestrians is increasingly being put at risk and suggests that the best way to remove this hazard is to prevent vehicles from driving along the forecourts from either the access in Longbridge Road or from Lodge Avenue. In addition to these problems, some of the forecourts are in a poor condition (possibly due to the high level of vehicular movement) and responsibility for anyone having an injury will rest with the forecourt owner. Because the hazard of a dangerous forecourt represents a significant risk to our residents, the shop owners are asked to undertake repairs.

There will be further news about this issue and the outcome of the letter to the shops in our next email newsletter.
Spot the tree

Twenty six new trees have been planted in Becontree ward on some of the amenity greens. Look out for them in the following amenity greens:

· junction Bennetts Castle Lane and Heynes Road

· junction Bennetts Castle Lane and Lindisfarne Road

· adjacent 108 Winding Way

· junction Campden Way and Lindisfarne Road

Can you spot the other greens with new trees?
Fun on St George’s day

The Council organised an exciting programme of events to celebrate St George’s Day across the Borough on 23 April. Congratulations to all involved who organised the celebration at Becontree Children’s Centre. Parents from the Parents Forum arranged themed craft activities after a delicious lunch helped by the Becontree Children’s Centre staff and our Neighbourhood Co-ordinator, Loraine Pulham.

Don’t forget that Becontree Children’s Centre runs activities during the school holidays for children aged 6 and above. All sessions are free of charge. These activities include street dancing, basketball and football sessions. Please contact Becontree Children’s Centre on 020 8724 1830 for further details.
Down your way

Many of you will have seen us out and about knocking on doors to say ‘hello’ and to find out your views on Council services. On 21 April, we were in Amidas Gardens and Dorothy Gardens. Issues about rubbish and street cleaning, anti-social behaviour, and parking have been passed to Council officers for action.

On 22 April, we were in Winterbourne Road and complaints about bad behaviour by children using the buses in Green Lane have been passed to the Safer Neighbourhood Team and John Biggs, our London Assembly Member. Other issues to do with parking and anti-social behaviour have been passed to Council officers for action.

Councillors are pleased to help residents with individual case-work which is sometimes uncovered through our knocking on doors.
Future dates

Look out for your councillor ( me ), helped by community activists, down your way  every weeks which is part of my street surgery.
Street sign survey

In response to residents’ suggestions, new street signs are being placed in the one-way system of Burnside Road. Residents have also asked for street signs for Lindsey Road and Rutland Gardens. If you know other roads which need street signs, please let Emmanuel or Alok know on emmanuel.obasohan@lbbd.gov.uk or alok.agrawal@lbbd.gov.uk
Use your vote on 4 June 2009

Don’t forget to use your vote in the European Parliamentary Elections on 4 June 2009. The last date to register to vote is 19 May. If you need to register or would like a postal vote, please contact Electoral Services on 020 8227 2945. It would be good to have a high turn-out in Becontree Ward for this election.
BNP fans flames with 'sick' by-election leaflet

Far-Right seen as real threat as voters go to polls in London

By Tom Baldwin

SEVEN days ago Jeff Porter led a thousand passengers to safety after the Tube train he was driving into Edgware Road station was rocked by an explosion, engulfing his cab in smoke and dust.

On Saturday he left home for the first time since the attack to do some canvassing in the council by-election at Becontree, Barking, where he is the local Labour Party chairman.

“I wanted to clear my head but came across a group of bone-headed thugs from the British National Party,” he said. “One of them put his fist into my face and asked me if I wanted a slap. I was shaking and terrified. We had to get the police involved.”

Although the BNP has since denied being directly involved in this incident, Mr Porter points out that they all had stacks of leaflets which they were delivering on behalf of the party at the time.

The leaflet in question has since become notorious. It features a large picture of the Number 30 bus which was blown apart by a bomb in Tavistock Square, along with the headline: “Maybe it’s time to start listening to the BNP.”

Voters in Becontree will make their choice. The tensions have been fuelled by the bomb attacks and the result is expected to be very tight between Labour and the BNP.

Last year the BNP won a Barking and Dagenham council seat in the neighbouring Goresbrook ward, its first in London for more than ten years. The seat was regained by Labour three weeks ago after the BNP’s Dan Kelley quit.

In Becontree, the party may have problems with its candidate, John Luisis. When The Times came across some BNP activists yesterday, they were unable to contact him. “He won’t answer his phone,” said Bob Gertner, one of the party’s organisers.

Will he turn up for the by-election?

“I hope so,” he replied rather doubtfully.

Even so, Labour is taking the BNP very seriously in Becontree, a ward largely composed of a huge council estate built for Ford workers. Margaret Hodge, the Employment Minister and local MP, said:

“I’ve been campaigning for 40 years and I’ve never heard such racism on the doorstep. There is a terrific fear of change and the BNP is very good at exploiting that with lies and distortions.”

The party’s leaflets claim that Labour has allowed Becontree to become “swamped by asylum-seekers and immigrants”, all going to the front of council-house waiting lists.

The truth is more complicated. Labour officials estimate that, of the 7,000 people living in the ward, about 2,000 are from ethnic minorities; a ten-fold increase in recent years. But these new arrivals are not jumping queues, so much as buying or renting the relatively cheap former council homes being sold by the white community.

Ms Hodge said: “The pace of change has been dramatic and the community is worried that their kids will not be able to get homes here. I think it shows that we, as a Government, need to do more about housing.”

Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP for the neighbouring seat of Dagenham East, was prepared to go further. “We’ve become preoccupied by Middle England. The economy needs immigration for growth but we’ve been unwilling to pay what it takes to take the additional strain that has created for public services and housing. A lot of people feel that new Labour has deserted them.”

Alok Agrawal, Labour’s candidate in Becontree, is an Indian-born newsagent whose two sons are classic immigrant success stories. One is studying for a PhD, the other runs an IT company.

He says: “Everybody knows me around here; the problem is when they don’t know you. That is when they fear the different cultures and faces.”

Later, when Mr Agrawal was out canvassing, he met Jo Colli, a 32-year-old postman, who told him he was tempted to vote BNP because the “Albanians and Africans are getting all the advantages”. He had clearly read BNP literature, but there was one leaflet he did not like. “The one with the bus — that was sick. The bombings had nothing to do with immigration. They were an attack on all of us in this country.”

The Independent
By Nigel Morris

Friday, 15 July 2005

Meanwhile, the British National Party lost a bitter council by-election last night after running a campaign that linked the London bomb blasts to immigration.

Labour's Alok Agrawal won a majority of almost 800 votes over the far-right party in the contest in the east London borough of Barking and Dagenham.

The BNP sparked outrage shortly after the explosions by distributing leaflets featuring a photograph of the No 30 bus blown apart at Tavistock Square. The headline read: "Maybe now it's time to start listening to the BNP."

The BNP had targeted the east London borough, traditionally strongly loyal to Labour, as fertile territory for its anti-immigrant message. Largely white and working class, the area has experienced a sharp increase in its ethnic minority population in recent years.

If John Luisis had won for the BNP, he would have become its only councillor in the capital after the party lost a neighbouring seat in Barking last month. It briefly held a council seat in Tower Hamlets in the early 1990s. Last night's result will fuel hopes among opponents that the party has peaked in popularity in London.


Friday 15 July 2005 14.38 BST

Labour candidate Alok Agrawal coasted home at Becontree nearly 800 votes ahead of the BNP, after the far right group sparked a storm by using a picture of the bombed No 30 bus in a campaign leaflet.

Controversial BNP campaign fails to win council seat

Efforts by the far-right British National party (BNP) to win a council seat by using last week's London bombings in its campaign have backfired, after Labour candidate Alok Agrawal won the Becontree seat in a landslide victory last night.

Mr Agrawal, the owner of a local newsagents, held the Becontree ward seat in Barking and Dagenham which was left vacant following the sudden death of Labour councillor John Wainwright just five weeks ago.

Mr Agrawal secured 1,171 votes, with BNP candidate John Luisis trailing behind on 378. Conservative candidate Anthony Chytry won just 283 votes, while the UK Independence party netted 125.

The byelection was marred by controversy following the decision by the BNP to publish an election leaflet showing an aerial photograph of the devastated number 30 bus with the headline: Maybe now it's time to start listening to the BNP.

Tensions also flared over the weekend and police were called after Labour councillor Jeff Porter was reportedly hounded by a man distributing BNP leaflets.

Mr Porter was a tube driver on the Circle line heading towards Edgware Road when one of the four bombs exploded on a train heading in the opposite direction.

Matters came to a head last night after an exchange of words ended in a BNP activist allegedly punching Labour election agent Val Rush in the chest after the results were announced.

Speaking from her home earlier today, Ms Rush said the byelection result had exceeded her expectations. "We were looking at an 800 vote win but to get this result showed a positive response from the residents to that awful leaflet that the BNP put out," she said. "I believed it would backfire and it did."

On the election trail in Becontree

The BNP sparked controversy with its leaflet exploiting the attacks on London. But what do the locals think? Jo Adetunji and Hélène Mulholland went to Barking and Dagenham to find out

The party is keen to get a foothold in the council after losing its only London seat to Labour in another byelection held last month, after BNP councillor Daniel Kelley quit the Goresbrook seat on Barking and Dagenham he had won just nine months before.

Becontree's Labour candidate, Alok Agrawal, and his election agent, Val Rush, prepared for their last day of canvassing in the backroom of the newsagent's shop he has run for 21 years, nestled between the Jasmine Court Restaurant and the Chair Centre.

They have had 1,700 firm pledges of support after knocking on 2,300 doors, says Ms Rush.

"We should win by a large majority," says Mr Agrawal. "A lot of people know me personally and people are not that bad that they can go along with these silly things."

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