From HuffPost UK: Karen Lee, Labour’s shadow fire minister, writes…
“The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government James Brokenshire announced on Thursday that the government will ban the use of combustible cladding on new buildings above 18 metres. This follows widespread concerns over revelations that a high number of buildings with combustible materials have still not being identified. It is appalling that we are now 17 months on from the Grenfell Tower fire and lessons still have not been learnt.
“New details of the Conservatives’ cladding ban, combined with industry projections of the number of at-risk buildings which have not been identified, mean that it is unlikely the government’s reforms will go far enough to prevent another Grenfell.
“This may look like a positive step, but the details of the ban barely begin to address the risk posed to many vulnerable communities across the UK. Not only is the ban restricted to specific building types, but also the ban will not be enforced retrospectively and will only apply to new buildings or refurbishments.
“Alongside refusing to address the threats posed by faulty fire regulations, the government has displayed a worrying lack of urgency in removing dangerous cladding. The Tories have repeatedly kicked the issue into the long grass.
[Read full column on HuffPost UK…]
From The Independent: The government has been accused of “unforgivable cowardice” after it emerged experts hired to test cladding in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire were banned from criticising Theresa May.
[Read article on Independent website…]
From The Guardian: One of the last people to escape Grenfell Tower has claimed residents were bullied by the Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) during the refurbishment of the block which left gaps around windows that allowed his flat to fill with smoke.
Antonio Roncolato, who lived in flat 72 on the 10th floor for 27 years, was the first resident to give evidence to the public inquiry into the disaster, which claimed 72 lives. He described being trapped in the tower for more than six hours and said there was gaseous smoke, like “you’re going into a gas chamber”.
Roncolato, a hotel worker, told the inquiry that before the fire residents were unhappy about plans to relocate gas boilers in the building’s corridors and that some were bullied into accepting what they feared was a safety risk. He also said that as part of the same refurbishment the landlord removed a 24-hour concierge service in the tower because it would cost too much to continue.
He described how residents had meetings with the Tory-run council landlord but “the TMO was very resistant to coming to these and when they did, the meetings were often tense and residents would walk out”.
The TMO finally agreed to put some boilers in the flats, but “for those residents who did not speak up, they were bullied into having the new boiler installed in the hallway by the front door”.
[Read full article on Guardian website…]
From Evolve Politics: A silent procession of thousands – police estimate 5,000 – marched solemnly in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the Grenfell disaster.
However, whilst Jeremy Corbyn attended and marched alongside the people – and as the Labour leader told reporters how the fire represented all the injustice and inequality in this country –Theresa May had already snuck away early in order to ‘woo’ super-rich bankers at an extravagant European financial services banquet.
There, while those at Grenfell grieved, May spoke to European finance bosses about how Government plans to remove doctors and nurses from the visa regime would open the way for banks to hire professionals from outside the European Economic Area.
From Daily Mirror: Theresa May has refused to appoint a diverse panel to the Grenfell Tower inquiry, it emerged today. It is feared that the retired Court of Appeal judge lacks first-hand experience of the complex cultural factors underpinning the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
[Read full article on Guardian website…]
From The Guardian: Britain’s human rights watchdog is to launch an inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire that will examine whether the Tory government and the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea failed in their duties to protect life and provide safe housing.
The dramatic intervention by the independent Equality and Human Rights Commission, which has the potential to draw damning conclusions about the role of the state, could foreshadow the official inquiry, which has been criticised for excluding social housing policy from its remit. The commission’s recommendations are due to be published in April, considerably earlier than the official inquiry’s full findings.
From Evolve Politics: Just five months after a catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower claimed the lives of approximately 80 people, Kensington’s local Conservative party have been exposed conducting a survey asking local residents if they still cared about the tragedy.
In the letter, first published on the Guido Fawkes website, the Kensington, Chelsea & Fulham Conservatives survey asks residents ‘how important’ the Grenfell Tower tragedy was to them still. Read more
From Daily Mirror: Two thirds of the families who lost their homes in the Grenfell Tower fire are still living in hotels, the government has admitted.
[Read full article on Daily Mirror website…]
From the Guardian: Councils have said the Tory government is failing to release funds to improve the fire safety of dozens of tower blocks following the Grenfell Tower disaster despite promising that a lack of financial resources should not stand in the way of essential works.
[Read full report on Guardian website…]
From The Guardian: Only two families who escaped Grenfell Tower have moved into permanent new homes, despite a firm commitment from Theresa May two days after the fire that everyone would be rehoused within three weeks. Approximately 150 households are still scattered across London in 36 hotels. The hotel bill (excluding meals) already stands at more than £5m.
George Monbiot tells Double Down News: “What happened in Grenfell Tower was murder, mass murder.
“It’s ‘let’s strip away’ all the public protections which prevent lots of people from being incinerated.
“There’s a whole infrastructure of fake think tanks, of these neoliberal lobby groups, funded by dark money, journalists, columnists in the corporate press, government ministers and advisers, whose whole role in life is to try to destroy public protections. because those public protections limit corporate profits. Read more
From The Independent: The Tory Government has reportedly dropped plans to ease fire safety standards in new schools after the Grenfell Tower fire, which killed at least 79 people.
[Read full article on the Independent website…]
From the Daily Express: In 2014, Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea Council decided to hand back £100 to residents paying the top rate of council tax in an “overachieving efficiency drive”, while it had also stockpiled reserves of £274 million.
[Read full article on Daily Express website…]
Jonathan Pie on Tory Britain: “This country spends millions on social housing. Not building social housing or making it safe, clean and habitable, but where we spend millions papering over poverty with flammable cladding.”
“If that isn’t a metaphor for what this government’s ideology has done to our country, I don’t know what is.
“Cladding over poverty, so that posh people simply don’t have to look at it. Not in any way improving poor people’s lives, just ensuring that posh people don’t have to look at shitty houses. Priority #1.
“For an extra £2 you can make each section of cladding fireproof. ‘What’s the fucking point of that?’ Says it all, doesn’t it. Cladding over poverty, a veneer of compassion, a dangerous, sub-standard, least-amount-of-hassle-possible facade, to ensure the rich don’t have to acknowledge the existence or realities of being poor.
“We don’t need to make social housing better, we just need to make it look better. Because then property prices in the area will increase, and that is good for our economy, which is good for everyone… But mainly good for people in nice houses. Read more
Video from ITV News captures the moment that protesters stormed the local town hall in Kensington, demanding action from the Tory-controlled council in the wake of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire:
Corbynator @Corbynator2 The moment protesters stormed Kensington town hall, amid anger over the response to the fire#kensingtonandchelsea ITV NewsProtesters storm Kensington town hall as anger boils overProtesters stormed the local town hall in Kensington demanding action in the wake of the devastating Grenfell Tower fire. ITV News
Posted by Walking the Breadline on Friday, June 16, 2017
Watch video from 5 News of angry community protests, including shouts of ‘coward’ and ‘get out’, as Theresa May departs St Clements church near Grenfell Tower, surrounded by an angry community.
Warning: this clip contains profanities and strong language.
Angry crowd shouts at Theresa May
Shouts of 'coward' and 'get out' as Theresa May departs St Clements church near #GrenfellTower, surrounded by an angry community. A warning this clip contains profanities and strong language.
Posted by Channel 5 News on Friday, June 16, 2017
From The Independent (Jan 2012): Prime Minister David Cameron said in January 2012 that his new year’s resolution was to “kill off the health and safety culture for good”, calling it an “albatross around the neck of British businesses”.
ITV journalist Robert Peston writes on Facebook in response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy:
“Austerity seems to have become particularly toxic in a system where responsibility for vital safety decisions is so diffuse: we have ministers in charge of regulations, councillors funding an arms length management company, and a management company placing a refurbishment contract with the cheapest bidder.”
He continues: “The system… we have [is] designed to drive down costs and save money, not to put the safety of people first.”
Read his full Facebook post below:
This video gives a sense of the number of people and the energy of the Justice4Grenfell action as it passes Downing Street.
Corbynator @Corbynator2 22m22 minutes agoMore #JusticeForGrenfell arriving at Downing Street. Anger being directed at Theresa May.#kensingtonandchelsea Michael Gray
Posted by Walking the Breadline on Friday, June 16, 2017
North Kensington resident Ishmahil Blagrove is one of many expressing anger in the aftermath of the West London fire. He talks to Channel 4 News.