Grenfell Tower London, political, not natural, disaster

This video says about itself:

London’s Blazing Tower: A Victim of Gentrification

15 June 2017

Residents were killed by gentrification in a preventable catastrophe.

In November, tenants’ activist organization, the Grenfell Action Group, foresaw such an event, stating: “only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.”

‘Thank you mum’: Italian couple’s heartbreaking final phone calls to family as smoke flooded Grenfell Tower flat. Gloria Trevisan and Marco Gottardi had only been in London for three months and were living on the 23rd floor of the tower: here.

Lily Allen claims ‘150 people died’ in Grenfell Tower fire as she accuses authorities of being dishonest. Superstar singer quoted death toll figures she said she had been given by policemen and firemen “off-the-record” during a live TV interview: here.

From British daily The Independent today:

Grenfell Tower fire: Lily Allen pulled from Newsnight after controversial remarks

The singer accused the government of withholding the real number of fatalities

Lily Allen had an appearance on Newsnight cancelled following comments she made about the Grenfell Tower fire on Channel 4 News.

The singer was scheduled to appear on the political BBC series last night (15 June) but later announced she had been cancelled and replaced by “someone from the [Conservative Kensington local] council” instead.

Theresa May’s chief aide has refused to answer questions on whether his old department ‘sat on’ a report into fire safety in high-rise tower blocks for four years. [Conservative] Gavin Barwell, now the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, was housing minister until the election, and had responsibility for fire safety regulations. He and previous ministers have been accused of “sitting on” recommendations from a coroner to review fire safety rules in tower blocks for four years: here.

THE TALE OF TWO KENSINGTONS’ “The tale of Grenfell Tower is a tale of two Kensingtons. It is the story of how scores of people were left to perish in what is being described as a block riddled with fire and safety problems and disrepair, just meters away from some of the wealthiest streets in the country. ” [HuffPost]

From daily The Guardian in Britain today:

[Conservative] Leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom was heckled and challenged by [Grenfell Tower] residents as she visited the scene today.

She was being interviewed by Sky News about why Theresa May failed to meet residents on her visit. A man then shouted: “meet the victims.”

He added: “You know this could have been stopped, a long long time ago. There is [no] basic stuff, there’s not even sprinklers in there … we want answers now. Nothing has been done.”

This 15 June 2017 video from London, England is called Grenfell Tower Block Residents Angry over Fire.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Grenfell Tower: Cladding fire fears raised 17 years ago

Friday 16th June 2017

Parliamentary report exposed risks after block blaze in 1999

CONCERNS about the fire risk posed by cladding used to insulate tower blocks were first raised in a parliamentary report 17 years ago, it was revealed yesterday.

The environment, transport and regional affairs committee opened an inquiry after a fire destroyed nine floors of a 14-storey block of flats in Ayrshire in 1999, killing an elderly man.

“We do not believe it should take a serious fire in which many people are killed before all reasonable steps are taken towards minimising the risks,” the report stated.

“All external cladding systems should be required either to be entirely non-combustible or to be proven through full-scale testing not to pose an unacceptable level of risk in terms of fire spread.”

Flammable cladding was blamed for the spread of a severe fire at a 21-floor tower block in Australia in 2014, when flames reached the roof within six minutes.

A report subsequently concluded that if the external wall cladding had been non-combustible, there would have been far less likelihood of the fire spreading. That finding prompted investigations into building practices by the country’s industry watchdog.

National Fire Chiefs Council chairman Roy Wilsher said yesterday that the recladding of tower blocks “certainly needs to be reconsidered.”

Labour MP for Poplar and Limehouse Jim Fitzpatrick, a former firefighter, said: “If this building was being constructed today, it would need far greater protection and — because of its height and its residential risk — it would need fire sprinklers fitted.

“Because it was built in 1974, that’s not a requirement.”

He warned that “money and political will” were needed to address the problem.

Harley Facades Limited, which installed the exterior cladding on the tower as part of recent refurbishment work, said that aluminium composite material panels of that type were in common use.

Rydon, which also worked on the refurbishment, said yesterday that it “met all required building regulations.”

But a line in an earlier statement by the firm saying that the project met all “fire regulations and health and safety standards” did not appear in yesterday’s statement.

Man behind Grenfell Tower cladding company is in hiding in his £1,000,000 house: here.

THE Fire Brigades Union slammed former London mayor Boris Johnson yesterday, pointing out that his slashing of counselling services available to firefighters will affect those left traumatised by the Grenfell Tower fire: here.

THE Grenfell Tower’s management company had been issued with fire brigade enforcement notices in the past following a blaze in a neighbouring high rise. Official documents show the London Fire Brigade ordered the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) to introduce extra fire safety measures at Adair Tower following an arson attack last year: here.

EMPTY luxury properties in Kensington should be taken over by the government to save people who lost their homes in the Grenfell Tower fire from having to leave the area, Jeremy Corbyn suggested yesterday. The Labour leader said it was unacceptable for poor people and the homeless to be left looking for somewhere to live while land banking takes place in the area, adding that properties should be “requisitioned if necessary”: here.

This 14 June 2017 video is called Grenfell Tower fire seen from aboard plane.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

The predictable tragedy at Grenfell shames our political masters. Things have to change

Thursday 15th June 2017

CONTRAST the conduct of our two main parties’ leaders as they visited the area around the stricken Grenfell Tower today.

While Jeremy Corbyn mixed with locals, meeting people, expressing sadness and solidarity and, above all, listening to what they had to say and committing himself to getting to the bottom of the tragedy, Theresa May paid a cursory visit, surrounded by top brass, ignoring a community in mourning.

May has conceded the public inquiry demand made by Corbyn and London Mayor Sadiq Khan, but vigilance is essential over its terms of reference.

An inquiry that drags on interminably, enriching a few lawyers, reiterating past inquiry recommendations and failing to nail those who cut corners to make the rich richer and the poor less safe will be worse than useless.

That would tell the people of the other Notting Hill that they are expendable.

It is noteworthy that many Grenfell survivors voiced real fear that Kensington & Chelsea council might take advantage of their expulsion by fire from their homes to decant them elsewhere while refurbishing/replacing their tower with a luxury block for private tenants.

This suspicion is soundly based on observing a co-ordinated policy by Tory councils, ex-London mayor Boris Johnson and national government to redistribute poor people outside London.

Decades of failure to build council homes, while privatising stewardship of public housing stock, has thrown low-paid workers into the arms of the private rented sector.

Tightening restrictions on housing benefit, which is effectively a government handout to private landlords enabling them to continually raise rents, forces the poorest people into substandard private accommodation, often at risk from inadequate fire safety provisions.

A similar mindset of regarding residents of Grenfell and similar blocks as the undeserving poor colours the attitude of councils such as Kensington & Chelsea, intent on holding down council tax bills.

As little as possible is spent on upgrading local authority properties, with day-to-day supervision handed over to arm’s length management organisations (Almo) that pay hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to senior grades.

These highly paid managers ignored or rejected tenants’ representations on security, especially regarding fire dangers, as did the council.

Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy is not usually given to radicalism, but his charge of corporate manslaughter and his demand for arrests are incontrovertible.

Dozens of poor people — the exact total is not yet known — have perished in horrific circumstances and they didn’t have to.

Grenfell wasn’t a bolt from the blue. It was foretold by the tenants’ organisation. People in authority took fateful decisions that made mass loss of life inevitable.

They should be identified and made to answer for those decisions.

May’s cowardly preference for hiding from the people who escaped Grenfell, those grieving, hoping against hope to find missing family and friends or supporting their neighbours betrays a guilty conscience.

The PM is aware that her party’s penny-pinching policiesat least towards working people — lie at the heart of the tower block tragedy.

She knows that the public services personnel, from NHS staff to police and firefighters selflessly risking their own lives to enter the blazing block, who now attract deserved public adulation are the same people the Tories decried as selfish wreckers when they demanded a living wage and opposed government cutbacks.

May’s government is morally bankrupt. Rather than cobble together an unprincipled parliamentary majority with the DUP, she should accept that the game is up and let Corbyn head an honourable minority government.

Theresa May is now almost as unpopular as pre-campaign Jeremy Corbyn, finds YouGov poll: here. And that poll was before Ms May’s refusal to meet Grenfell Tower disaster survivors.

[Neonazi paramilitary gang] Britain First shouted down while shooting anti-Muslim video hours after Muslims helped victims at Grenfell Tower: here.

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