British Conservative May’s hypocrisy on Grenfell disaster


London, England young people at a Grenfell memorial. The FBU has condemned PM May for her legacy speech hailing the Grenfell whitewash inquiry

From daily News Line in Britain:

MAY’S GRENFELL CLAIM ‘DISGRACEFUL’ says FBU

25th May 2019

FOLLOWING Theresa May’s resignation speech, in which the Prime Minister spoke of her response to the Grenfell Tower Fire, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) issued the following statement.

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘Many of the underlying issues at Grenfell were due to unsafe conditions that had been allowed to fester under Tory governments and a council for which Theresa May bears ultimate responsibility.

The inquiry she launched has kicked scrutiny of corporate and government interests into the long-grass, denying families and survivors justice, while allowing business as usual to continue for the wealthy. For the outgoing Prime Minister to suggest that her awful response to Grenfell is a proud part of her legacy is, frankly, disgraceful.’

The ‘shambolic’ Conservative party is incapable of governing and a general election is the ‘only honourable’ way forward the leader of the Unite union said yesterday after May announced that she is standing down as prime minister.

‘This farce has to end. The challenges before our country are too great and the need to restore fairness to our society too urgent, they are ill-served by this pantomime. A general election now is the only honourable and sensible way forward.’

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British Conservatives causing more Grenfell disasters?


Firefighters and Grenfell fire disaster survivors demonstrate in London, England

From daily News Line in Britain:

Tories have taken no action to stop another Grenfell

22nd May 2019

NEARLY two years since the Grenfell fire, in which 72 people lost their lives, the government has done nothing to adequately prepare fire and rescue services for a similar incident, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned yesterday.

The FBU calls on the government to end the postcode lottery of public safety by implementing:

1. A national review to understand the scale of failed compartmentation in residential buildings.

2. National standards for the pre-determined attendance – the number of firefighters and fire engines that would initially be sent – for fires in high-rise blocks.

‘The Westminster Fire Minister, Nick Hurd MP, has repeatedly claimed that fire services are prepared for a Grenfell-type fire,’ declared the FBU yesterday.

‘The Minister appears oblivious to one of the key factors at Grenfell Tower – the failure of compartmentation, the principle whereby buildings are built divided into fire-resistant compartments.

The government has failed to assess the risk of the failure of compartmentation, putting both firefighters and the public at risk.’

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘We’re shocked at the utter complacency of the Fire Minister. 72 people died at Grenfell Tower, a fire for which London Fire Brigade had not planned.

‘Yet the minister still does not grasp the severity, or even the basic details, of the risk across the country.

‘It’s no longer possible to claim that a fire like Grenfell is unforeseeable.

‘Firefighters were placed in an impossible situation that night. But two years on, the government still has not provided the planning and resources necessary to prepare firefighters for what are now completely foreseeable risks.

‘It is extremely worrying that as part of their pre-determined attendances, some services only plan to send two engines to a fire in a high rise building. That is nowhere near enough to tackle a blaze which occurs when compartmentation fails, like it did at Grenfell.

‘Fire and rescue services are clearly basing their pre-determined attendances upon a situation where compartmentation works.

‘But at Grenfell it was the failure of compartmentation that caused the fire to spread so rapidly and virtually none are prepared for such an incident.

‘Even with this optimistic assumption, the levels of attendance are mostly utterly inadequate. The difference in pre-determined attendances is also deeply worrying – there is no reason why which part of the country a building is located in should determine the safety of its residents.’

Grenfell proved the UK government’s utter complacency on fire safety. We need robust national standards to make sure that the lessons from that night are applied everywhere.’

Cuts to fire and rescue services have continued after Grenfell, despite calls from the FBU to halt austerity measures in the wake of the tragedy.

English fire funds from central government were cut by another 15% from 2016/17 to 2019/20.

Another North Kensington fire

A FIRE broke out in Whitstable House on Monday evening, just a stone’s throw from Grenfell Tower in west London, and, while the landings filled up with smoke, no smoke alarm sounded.

Local resident Paul Meade said: ‘I live here in Whitstable House and I live on the fifth floor. The smoke was coming through the rubbish shoot and filling up the landing.

‘I called the Fire Brigade and within five minutes they turned up.

‘I was knocking door to door to get everyone out, ringing the bells when I got downstairs as well.

‘After the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower, we cannot take any chances.

‘People are not staying in their flats after Grenfell, so they came downstairs.

‘The fire was in the communal bins at the bottom of the flat and the firefighters put it out very quickly and told everyone it is OK and they can go back into the building.

‘Next month on June 14 it will be two years since the Grenfell fire. No fire alarm rang at Whitstable House, no smoke alarm sounded. They should have smoke alarms on every landing.

‘After the Grenfell Tower fire you would think that they would have installed alarms.

‘This council,’ Meade said, referring to Kensington & Chelsea Council, ‘needs to be kicked out. It is simple. They are not doing their job.’

Still flammable ‘Grenfell’ cladding in Britain


Campaigners from properties with Grenfell-style cladding demanding safe homes for all in London, England – cladding on 8 out of 10 blocks have still not been replaced

From daily News Line in Britain:

80% of flammable towers have still not been reclad

10th May 2019

‘STILL almost 8 in 10 blocks with Grenfell type cladding have not had it replaced with over half of those with no work started at all,’ John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of Health told Parliament yesterday.

He was speaking after Tory Housing minister James Brokenshire made a statement to the House of Commons announcing a government fund providing £200m for the stripping of flammable cladding from private blocks.

However, the fund is not for stripping social housing tower blocks of flammable cladding. Hundreds of council and housing association tower blocks are still wrapped in flammable cladding leaving thousands living in fire traps.

To make matters worse the Tory government and the Tory-led Kensington and Chelsea Council still have not re-housed the Grenfell fire survivors.

Healey continued: ‘Who would have thought, after the solemn pledges made by the Prime Minister and other ministers in the aftermath of that terrible, dreadful Grenfell Tower fire that nearly two years on, still there are Grenfell residents in hotels and temporary accommodation, not in permanent homes.’

Emma Dent Coad, Labour MP for Kensington, tweeted that it was ‘shameful’ that residents had to wait 23 months for action, adding that the £200m fund was ‘measly’.

Only last weekend in Manchester there was a fire in a block with Grenfell-style cladding, luckily no one was killed.

And the tenants of the Manchester block called Vallea Court which has the same Grenfell-style cladding have said that they fear for their lives after a waking watch failed to rouse a number of people during the fire that broke out in the early hours of last Saturday.

People living in Vallea Court in the Green Quarter development were evacuated at around 5am when the fire started in the lift shaft on the 10th floor.

While fire alarms sounded on the floor where the fire was, they did not sound elsewhere, and most residents were woken by members of a waking watch who banged on their doors and sounded an air horn.

Joe Sharp, who lives on the eighth floor of the block, said he initially assumed the noise was from revellers returning from a night out.

‘I was eventually woken by the sound of people in the corridor,’ he said. ‘The waking watch don’t know who is in or not so if you don’t answer the door they are not going to stay there.’

Meanwhile, residents in nine blocks in Manchester’s Salford were told flammable cladding would be stripped in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Almost two years on they’re still waiting.

Dawn Lewis is 57 and has lived in Thorn Court for more than 20 years. She said: ‘At the beginning, I didn’t want to be here. My sleep was awful. I kept thinking that the alarm was going off. You wake up thinking you can smell smoke.’

The 22-storey block sits opposite the Salford Crescent railway station and is one of the nine Pendleton Together-run high-rises that failed to meet fire safety standards.

Julie Eddison is 46 and lives in Spruce Court. She has depression, anxiety and PTSD and says she feels ‘terrorised’ in her home.

‘Do I feel safe? No,’ she said … We are in a perpetual state of fear.’

When the fire alarm was set off during the night recently, Julie said she was ‘phoned awake’ at 3.20am by a friend.

‘The alarm didn’t wake me,’ she said. ‘You can imagine the terror.’