I am delighted that the Mayor of Barking and Dagenham, The Worshipful Councillor Peter Chand is my guest today.
ES: Mr Mayor, I am most grateful that you have taken the time from your busy schedule to talk to us. Apart from being the Mayor, what is your connection to Dagenham?
PC: My parents immigrated to the UK from India in 1954 and moved to a
house in Ballards Road, Dagenham. I was born in 1966 and still live in that
same very road! I went to local schools and the Adult College where I
studied Health & Social care, so I would say I have Dagenham running
through my veins.
ES: How do you think the rest of the country views Dagenham and do you think this view is justified?
PC: When I was growing up, the Community wasn’t as diverse as it is today
and mine was the first Asian family in Ballards Road at that time. I have
heard comments in the past that say Dagenham is a racist borough but I
really didn’t feel like that growing up. I had the odd comment at school but
on the whole I don’t feel that this view is justified.
ES: What do you love about the place.
PC: I love how diverse Barking and Dagenham are and how lots of different
communities come together to support each other and celebrate our
differences in a positive way.
ES: Please tell us something about Dagenham you don’t think many people are aware of.
PC: I’m sure not many people know that Dagenham was originally a marsh
land and was liable to flood. Also, in Valence Avenue there was a train line
running down the middle of the central reservation from Chadwell Heath to
Dagenham Docks. It crossed Green Lane, Becontree Avenue and Wood
Lane, each with a level crossing. I also loved the outdoor swimming pool at
Leys as a child, which was one of three outdoor pools in the Borough.
ES: My Dagenham Saga is called The Banjo (Books One and Two). Did you know that the term Banjo is peculiar to Dagenham? Have you or anyone you know ever lived in one?
PC: My friend lived in a Banjo and the term made me laugh when I was
younger. I later learnt it was a special name that was used by people who
lived in a Banjo and that banjos were only called that in Dagenham.
Everywhere else it was a cul-de-sac, of course.
ES: What’s your fondest memory of Dagenham?
PC: My fondest memory of Dagenham must be the Dagenham Town Show.
I loved going to Old Dagenham Park to see the floats leave and
make their way to Central Park. So many people from all over came to watch
the Town Show. It was wonderful. But although I loved the Town Show but I
think the Summer Of Festivals Team have moved it onto a much bigger and
better scale. The range and variety of festivals they organise reaches all parts
of the Borough and always has a real Community feel to it.
ES: Dagenham has undergone huge change in the last 20-30 years. What do you miss most about the old Dagenham?
PC: I miss the old shops like Woolworths and the Indoor Dagenham Market
where I worked as a teenager and have many fond memories.
ES: Now here’s a difficult question: What is your favourite, fish and chips or pie and mash?
PC: I love them both, but if I had to choose it would be a nice bit of Fish
ES: And do you consider our town to be Dagenham Essex or Dagenham East London?
PC: Dagenham Essex. I’m very proud to be an Essex boy!