Developers, investors, architects and those representing artistic organisations packed out The Broadway Theatre in Barking last night (18 April) to hear about the significant achievements the east London borough has made in areas such as housing, infrastructure and culture during the last year.
The event, organised by 3Fox International, attracted 206 delegates and was a chance for senior council representatives to reflect on what was agreed to have been a successful participation in MIPIM, last month's global property event in Cannes. The eighth issue of 3Fox’s BOLD magazine was launched during the property forum and the publisher also organised the council’s delegation.
Councillor Darren Rodwell, Barking and Dagenham’s leader, who curated last night’s event, spoke about the importance of the local authority’s presence at MIPIM: "Lots of leaders think they shouldn’t go, but we’re proud of the fact that we’ve gone from being a little-known borough to one of the hottest prospects in London. We believe that selling the borough will get us the right sort of investment.”
The announcement last year that Dagenham is likely to become home to London’s first film studios in 25 years is a proud achievement for Rodwell, which he says also provides evidence that the film industry is “moving east”. Referring to the now defunct Ford automotive factory, which is a big part of Dagenham's industrial and cultural heritage, the leader stressed: "In Barking and Dagenham, we used to make Fords, now we make films."
This claim was boosted at the post-MIPIM reception when Joelle David from local film company, Bluebird Pictures, took to the stage to present her reasons for staying in Barking and Dagenham, as opposed to moving to west London. “It is such a privilege to be part of a really diverse community here where 137 languages are spoken," she says. "We had the opportunity to move elsewhere but we chose to stay in Barking and Dagenham because we were impressed at the level of support. I’m extremely proud and pleased we decided to stay put."
David has had two "Hidden Talent" films featured on BBC Three and is promoting making women more equal in the industry, the subject of an event she is running at The Broadway this Friday (21 April).
Joelle David of Bluebird Pictures
The post-MIPIM event was also a chance to promote Be First, a company the council established in November last year to accelerate economic growth – allocating grants to put towards new homes, better infrastructure and securing jobs. Pat Hayes was revealed as the organisation’s managing director during the reception. (Click to read more).
With new homes being built across Barking and Dagenham, occupancy full at the Bow Arts creative workspace studios, the first freight train to transport goods from China arriving at a depot in Barking in January and land secured within the Londoneast-uk Business and Technical Park for the film studios re-enforcing the borough's blossoming reputation as a centre for the industry, Rodwell’s mood is buoyant.
Concluding proceedings at the event, he remarked: “We’ve achieved all this in 12 months. Just think what we could achieve over the next 10 to 15 years.”
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