Barking & Dagenham Ward Profile
(with specific reference to Abbey and Village neighbourhoods)
Prepared by John Foster
Changes in Population
Housing tenure- % of council housing
Housing tenure- % owner occupier
Employed in manufacture (included because of the relevant of de-industrialisation in the area).
Barking and Dagenham has striking shifts in its ethnic makeup between the 2001 and 2011 census. Whereas BAME residents made up 19% of its population in 2001, that was up to 51% by 2011. Its black African population seems to be most affected by issues in the area also, suffering the worst of housing and employment inequality.
Deprivation score averages
Barking and Dagenham-154
The borough is ranked 298th out of 348 boroughs in England.
Housing tenure- Overview
Employment (I include these tables as they are of particular relevance to this area, given its issues)
Newly registered migrant workers (2011/2012)
Barking and Dagenham is now divided into two separate constituencies which are: Barking, and Dagenham and Rainham.
Dagenham and Rainham
This seat was first contested in 2010 and so these tables represent every result in general elections that they have had.
Barking- recent general elections
Barking and Dagenham council elections
What this table doesn’t show is that the area was famed as a BNP stronghold, especially in 2006 when the party gained 11 of the seats it contested. Before it became Barking and Dagenham, Dagenham itself was also a stronghold for BNP activities, once being the seat of the infamous right-winger John Tyndall. The lost all of its seats in the 2010 council elections however. In Dagenham (the constituency which existed prior to its merger with Rainham) you can see a flickering BNP presence in general elections up until its dissolution with the top names in the party (and the national front before it) canvasing there which serves as an indication that there has been the presence of far right political sentiment in the area though it clearly has remained predominantly labour. The tables also show a big UKIP presence here once the BNP loses its credibility.
Laila M. Butt- Labour
Current councillors for Barking and Dagenham
Margaret Mullane- Labour
Lee Waker- Labour
Phil Waker- Labour
Barking and Dagenham was one of the few London wards to vote to leave the EU (27,750 remain- 46,130 leave). One report (Visit Here) says quite simply that much of the anti-EU vote was due to anti-immigrant sentiment and the fact that the EU was associated with immigration.
There is an online magazine called Bold which focuses on regeneration in Barking and Dagenham:
Be first is the company to whom the work of regeneration has been contracted:
Regeneration seems to involve plans to renovate Barking town centre by: building 400 new homes and creating new spaces for retail and new commercial units to attract startups in the area. Be First is looking to create film studios in Dagenham also.
Plans have been approved to renovate the sports centre at Abbey as of 2018
A project in its early stages which hopes to take advantage of space released by BnD council to create an arts hub.
Ford Stamping Plant
There are plans, as of 2016, to renovate the still derelict site of the old Ford stamping plant. One report suggested that 2,650 homes would be built here. The stamping plant was closed in 2013.
*The second glaring issue in the area seems to be the discussion around race and migration. As I have written, Barking and Dagenham (in its various electoral forms) has been a stronghold for far right parties since the 1980s (National Front, BNP and now UKIP). Figures from the 2011 census shows massive ‘white flight’ from the area, white people leaving the area in droves and being replaced by huge levels of migrant workers (see the migrant worker figures for Abbey above). In 2012 also, of course, it was estimated that London became the first western city to record higher levels of non-white residents than white. A superficial view gives us the impression of small white-working-class enclaves, feeling themselves to be embattled, and clinging on to their ways, employment and land but only just. If we follow the ways that orthodoxies have framed the Brexit vote, these populations look like almost a caricature of the Brexit voter in that they have lost their livelihood while seemingly suffering the hard end of structural competition for resources which mass-migration is seen to have deepened in some areas. As I say above also, despite apparent white working class resentment in the area, census data shows that Barking and Dagenham’s BAME community, especially black African’s, suffer the worst of its problems in terms of housing and employment (see THIS document for details)
MEPs are for London as a whole, there are 8 with 4 Labour, 2 Conservative, 1 green and 1 UKIP.
A document available through the council called Barking and Dagenham: London’s Growth Opportunity gives an outline of regeneration plans in the area. The document identifies 6 hubs of growth in the area including the sustainable industries park (already functional but seeking further investment), the Riverside residential development in which large numbers of homes are to be built, increased funding of transport and infrastructure in the area, as well as Barking Town centre in which new homes are to be built. This document talks less about what the council plans to do, focusing more on advertising these hubs to potential investors. Again, the theme of mixed-cost housing comes up which seems to be a current council strategy of improving the value of housing stock in a less desirable area and the whole regeneration plan, therefore, seems to hinge on providing a desirable site for private investment.
Two important points stand out when looking at the recent history of Barking and Dagenham: the first concerning industry and the second concerning race and immigration. Like Wallsend the economy of the area seems to have revolved around a single industry, in the case, the Ford automotive factory. The factories were present pre WW2 but took off in a big way after that time. Estimates say that Ford employed 40,000 workers at its peak in 1953. The company engaged in mergers and takeovers in its rise to prominence but the branch seems to have been outmoded by others across Europe because of organised labour. In 1971 the Dagenham plant was subject to a total shutdown which seems to have prompted Ford to give contracts elsewhere. The aforementioned Stamping plant was shut down in 2013 with an estimated loss of 1000 local jobs which seems to have been seen as a further sign of the decline of industry in the area. In an interesting point of comparison between the Barking and Dagenham site and Wallsend, the industry, though it may have been dwindling in relevance prior to this, lasts right up until the 2000s. The difference being here that Ford are still active in the area in the form of the Diesel Centre which does both design and manufacture of diesel engines. Though the maintenance of the plant is seen as a success by some (New Labour among them- Blair opened it), in 2018 it was estimated that it employs 1.800 workers approx; a fraction of what it has done. De-industrialisation is, as I’m sure we already know, a big part of our story in the area. *
Valence House has an archive and a free museum which exhibits local history. It hosts events for local people.
local libraries - a list of these is available on the council website.
On first glance community churches and organisations appear to be a good place to start talking to people that have a handle on what is happening in an area. There a few in the area but Dagenham community church is listed on the council website and, therefore, could be a good place to begin.
Community Food Enterprise
The Community Food Enterprise is a long running organisation which re-distributes surplus food to people that struggling financially in the area. It is near the riverside and so not far from the Abbey neighbourhood I believe.
Eastside is a project which attempts to chronicle the everyday stories of residents in the Eastend including Barking and Dagenham. They have a project entitled Working Lives of the Thames Gateway which could be relevant for us, again, in terms of the industrial/post-industrial history of the place. Interesting that is being done to preserve the industrial history in this place. The other areas we are looking at often also share a sense of decline and, at times a veneration of the industrial past. In Barking and Dagenham, however, this tendency seems particularly potent.