London Grenfell disaster, Conservatives don’t learn from it

This BBC video from London, England says about itself:

5 September 2017

Helen Gebremeskel and her daughter Lulya lived on the 21st floor of Grenfell Tower. Hear their harrowing account of how they escaped from the fire and about their struggles to find a new home.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Grenfell fire council ‘fails to tackle rising housing crisis’

Thursday 23rd November 2017

A HOUSING crisis is deepening in Kensington and Chelsea, where nearly 2,000 people are living in temporary accommodation across the inner London borough.

Opposition councillor Linda Wade accused the local authority yesterday of burying its head in the sand as it continues to build up cash reserves and ignore concerns over the depletion of the borough’s housing stock — which included the Grenfell Tower until June’s deadly fire.

She issued a warning over the growing number of applications for houses in multiple occupancy (HMO) being rejected by the council, given that there is a lack of alternative accommodation for residents.

A rise in the number of properties being converted from HMOs to studio flats is depleting housing stock in an area of high demand, she said.

Ms Wade, a Liberal Democrat, tore into the Conservative-controlled council for its lack of investment in social housing “going back for years” and said many of the new studio flats fell short of size requirements stipulated in the London Plan.

“We have 1,900 people living in temporary accommodation in Kensington and Chelsea. A council’s main responsibility is to its residents, not to stockpile money.

“Some people have been in temporary accommodation for 17 years,” she claimed.

She voiced fears that hundreds could be made homeless as a result of the council’s failings.

In the wake of the Grenfell tragedy it was revealed that Kensington and Chelsea had reserves of around £274 million and had offered a rebate to those paying the top level of council tax.

Ms Wade welcomed the council’s purchase of properties on the open market to house the survivors of the Grenfell Tower blaze, but she said that the measure did not solve the borough’s shortage of affordable homes.

The majority of those who survived the fire have still not been permanently rehoused, despite government promises that they would have new homes within weeks.

“The council need to recognise that more than one type of person lives in Kensington and Chelsea,” Ms Wade stressed. “Many of those on low incomes rely on this type of housing. They won’t even get onto the housing waiting list, which has been capped at 2,500.”

She said she had written to council leader Elizabeth Campbell on the issue but received no response.

“Everything we predicted would happen has happened. The local authority is playing ostrich. This is management by remote control,” she said.

Ms Wade called for an urgent overhaul of the council’s housing strategy and the creation of a plan to invest in affordable homes.

22 thoughts on “London Grenfell disaster, Conservatives don’t learn from it

  1. Monday 27th November 2017

    Corbyn tells housing summit that fundamental change is needed

    REAL justice for Grenfell Tower victims and survivors won’t come without fundamental change, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

    The party leader said that regeneration projects that did not have the support of residents would be blocked under Labour.

    He called the Grenfell Tower fire a “preventable disaster” and said that real justice would come as a result of “a society in which there’s decent, secure, truly affordable and safe homes for all.”

    Speaking at the National Housing Summit in London on Saturday, Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack expressed his doubts over the effectiveness of the public inquiry into the west London fire, which killed at least 71 residents.

    “We demand that the views of working-class communities are heard,” he said.

    In a video message to campaigners attending the summit, Mr Corbyn said: “There has never been a time when housing has been such an important issue for millions of people.

    “We have a deepening housing crisis created by decades of allowing policy to be dictated by the market.”

    The Labour leader said the Budget announced last Wednesday showed that the Tories are not prepared to take the action needed to solve the crisis.

    “Beneath the accounting tricks and spin, nothing they announced on Wednesday will guarantee that a single additional home is built,” he said.

    Mr Corbyn promised investment for council housing and private-sector rent controls, citing the prevalence of eviction and tenants spending half their income for substandard and overcrowded homes.

    He reminded delegates of his speech at Labour’s party conference in September, saying that he wanted “an end to regeneration projects being used for social cleansing.”

    It was seen by many as an attack on Labour-controlled Haringey Council’s plans to hand over a whopping £2 billion of housing stock to privateer Lendlease.

    The Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) has been at the centre of a bitter struggle between supporters of council leader Clare Kober and opponents of the project including the borough’s two Labour MPs, Catherine West and David Lammy.

    Key supporters of HDV, including the council’s cabinet member for housing and regeneration Alan Strickland, were forced to stand down as councillors ahead of next year’s elections.

    Such projects would be brought to an end under Labour, with regeneration “for the benefit of the local people, not private developers, not property speculators,” Mr Corbyn pledged.

    “No social cleansing, no jacking up rents, no exorbitant ground rents,” he said.


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