Pharmaceutical company Sanofi has handed over leisure facilities at the site of its former manufacturing plant in Dagenham to the council, for use by the local community.
The handover of the May and Baker Sports and Social Club forms part of the ‘business-east’ regeneration project to turn the site into a science, technology, manufacturing and retail park to attract new businesses to the area.
Sanofi ceased production at the site in summer 2013, where the facility has been used by the firm for 76 years. The takeover was marked by an event in Dagenham in December, attended by council representatives, as well as Sanofi’s site leader in Dagenham, Jim Moretta.
He said: “The name may have changed but its purpose remains exactly the same today as it was when this club was originally formed during the 1930s – to promote sport, leisure and social activities among May and Baker’s employees and, in more recent times, the local community.
“Sanofi’s commitment to supporting our local community has been one of the cornerstones of our business-east regeneration programme. Therefore, it is particularly fitting that a vital part of our lasting legacy to Dagenham is being able to secure the future of this clubhouse and sports grounds by donating these facilities to the local council.
"It means this place will continue to be a centre of enjoyment and entertainment for local people for many years to come.”
The May and Baker Eastbrook Community Club charitable trust has been granted a 25-year lease to operate the facilities situated next to the site, which include football, rugby and cricket pitches, squash and tennis courts and a fitness centre, now safeguarded for future use by the community.
Trust representative and Eastbrook ward councillor Tony Ramsey said: "As your local councillors and founding trustees of the May and Baker Eastbrook Community Club, we are enormously proud of the tireless work that has been undertaken between Sanofi, the council and the community.
"So many times in the past we have heard of industries that have walked away, leaving gates locked and communities without work for a generation.
"Here in Dagenham, when Sanofi’s patents ran out after serving the community so well for nearly 80 years, we worked together to make other things work on the site, to bring new services and facilities to the area and to listen to the community."
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