London Grenfell Tower update

This video from London, England says about itself:

21 June 2017

Clashes broke out between police and protesters taking part in a ‘Day of Ragedemanding justice for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and an end to the Conservative government led by Prime Minister Theresa May, Wednesday. The protest was organised by Movement for Justice By Any Means Necessary (MFJ) who oppose ‘brutal austerity, cuts and anti-immigrant attacks‘.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

‘The tears may never stop’, says Dent Coad

Friday 23rd June 2017

EMMA DENT COAD said yesterday that the Grenfell Tower disaster had revealed the true face of Kensington.

In her maiden Commons speech, the first ever Labour MP for Kensington paid tribute to those affected by the horrific fire.

“The horror and fear of this man-made catastrophe will be etched on all our hearts for ever,” she said.

“The tears may never stop. I know this from the grief etched on the faces of people in Ladbroke Grove.

“Total strangers approaching me for comfort, reassurance, a question, a hug, to share their fears and disbelief that such horror could be visited upon our neighbourhood.

“And the burnt-out carcass of Grenfell Tower and all it represents lours over us.”

She criticised those who claim social tenants have “no right to live in desirable Kensington” while ignoring the poverty and overcrowded housing that exists in the area’s most deprived pockets.

Ms Dent Coad told MPs: “The people who have been failed want justice, accountability and an honest and transparent process to achieve it.”

She had earlier called on PM Theresa May to reverse cuts to fire services and to order a public inquiry into the tragedy.

British Conservatives neglect Grenfell disaster survivors

This video from London, England, says about itself:

Tottenham Residents Find Out Their Building Has The Same Cladding As Grenfell Towers

22 June 2017

Residents of the River Apartments building in Tottenham have just found out their building is covered in the same cladding as the Grenfell Tower. Here is their response.

By Robert Stevens in Britain:

Grenfell Tower fire victims and survivors treated with contempt by UK authorities

22 June 2017

Those who perished in horrific deaths and the survivors of the Grenfell Tower inferno—which has killed at least 79 people—are overwhelmingly poor and working-class.

Their deaths were the result of the policies of successive governments, going back nearly four decades, through which the social rights of working people, including the right to safe housing, have been eviscerated.

Numerous representatives of the political elite and their media backers have engaged in handwringing and mock indignation over the fate of the victims. Their real attitude, however, is shown in the way that the survivors and their families have been treated by the authorities, with undisguised class hatred and contempt.

This is sanctioned from the very top of government. For days, there was no governmental or local authority assistance for the victims. It took two days for Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May to make a 30-minute visit to the site, where she was kept away from the public on “security” grounds. Only after the awareness of growing anger in London and nationwide finally hit home in ruling circles was an emergency relief fund initiated. This was after public donations had already raised more than £3 million—totally independently of the government.

The official “Grenfell Tower Residents’ Discretionary Fund” is a pittance of just £5 million. Of this, a minuscule £500 is being made available as an upfront payment to those who were burnt out of their homes. Another £5,000 is supposedly to be transferred into their bank accounts, which many cannot access, as their entire possessions went up in flames. As of Tuesday, the £5 million has barely been touched, with one news channel reporting that a total of just £330,000 has been paid out to survivors.

This is approximately half of the amount spent on refurbishing the Tower with the combustible cladding that almost certainly enabled the fire to spread with such devastating speed.

Moreover, it stands in stark contrast to the £369 million in taxpayers’ money that has been granted to the Royal Family for a 10-year refurbishing of Buckingham Palace, which stands in the same London borough. The lives of 80 people, if not many more, and the destitution of an untold number displaced—who have lost everything they possessed—is valued at just a tiny fraction of the amount being lavished on one family, already amongst the most privileged in the country.

The work on the Queen’s official residence, estimated to be worth £2.2 billion, will include replacing cables, lead pipes, wiring and boilers. When it was announced last year, a statement from Buckingham Palace read, “An independent specialist report concluded that without urgent work there is a risk of serious damage to the palace and the precious royal collection items it houses from, amongst other scenarios, fire and water damage.”

No such concerns ever crossed the minds of those in power responsible for Grenfell Tower, and the fate of around 600 people, who were left without the most basic safety requirements, including a central fire alarm and sprinkler system.

It was clear to all from the very outset that the fire was a major catastrophe requiring a massive emergency response. Yet no such co-ordinated action was organised by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) council—despite it being the wealthiest local authority in the country—to offer emergency respite, including the provision of food, drink, warmth and shelter to those devastated by the crisis. This was their response to working class people, some of whom fled the blaze in terror wearing just t-shirts and their underwear.

It was the local population and others who rushed to the area, coming from as far afield as Birmingham, to organize support and help for those who fled the inferno. Many of those assisting were visibly shocked at the lack of any official emergency operation, complaining they had worked for days providing food, clothes and shelter, with no assistance from the authorities.

The inaction of the RBKC meant that hundreds of people made homeless by the fire, including those who lived in rented social housing adjacent to Grenfell—told to vacate their homes on safety grounds—were not provided with any proper alternative accommodation. Instead many were dumped at the nearby “official rescue centre”—Westway Sport and Fitness Centre. Here they were forced to sleep on the sports hall floor, on rubber mats with sleeping bags and makeshift pillows.

Seeing their plight, many Londoners offered survivors rooms in their houses and access to food, drinks and shower facilities.

Rather than provide decent accommodation for the victims and demand government step in to ensure it, RBKC has sent around 250 of those affected by the fire to stay temporarily in dingy hotels all over the capital.

Speaking to ITV’s Peston on Sunday show, West London film producer Nisha Parti, who has been helping victims of the fire, said, “Victims were going to hotels, arriving at hotels, with no one from the council to greet them, to check them in, to give them clothes and food.” Parti revealed that Kensington and Chelsea council were giving just £10 a day to the survivors on arrival at the hotels, an amount even lower than the daily amount allotted in welfare payments to the unemployed. This barely allowed its destitute recipients to pay for a sandwich and a beverage.

Reports also emerged that RBKC council were sending Grenfell and nearby residents into accommodation miles away from London. The council denied claims that people have been sent outside of central London.

This however is contradicted by accounts, including the detailed statement given by one survivor, who lived in a flat on Grenfell’s 17th floor and who managed to escape from the blaze with his aunt.

In a video widely shared on social media, the young man explained that, “Another guy, they took him out of the hotel [the council originally sent him to] and they sent him to Preston…They [the council] are putting pressure on people that if you don’t accept their offer [of accommodation] you are making yourself intentionally homeless.”

He also revealed that one of his neighbours—whose wife had died in the fire and who “was in a terrible place right now and losing it”—was “put in an old people’s home. He’s not going to get rehoused now. That’s it.”

He continued, “They are doing some disgusting things. They are cutting corners and we are already scared about what’s going to happen to us.”

By announcing the fund, May was acknowledging the scale of opposition that was developing against her pro-austerity government and the ruling elite, fuelled by the blatant refusal of the government and the Conservative-run local authority to assist survivors. May said, “Frankly, the support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough.”

Yet even as she was forced to state this, after denying it for days, May would not guarantee those made homeless would be rehoused in the borough, only that “as far as possible” they would be placed “within the borough or neighbouring boroughs. Some people may actually want to go to another part of London.”

Shortly after May’s statement, furious local residents descended on Kensington Town Hall to demand “Justice for Grenfell” and that those suffering be afforded basic, civilised treatment. Thousands more participated in a demonstration that marched through central London.

The Labour MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad, told the BBC’s Sunday Politics show, “We are still hearing stories of people not being allocated properly. There’s one woman this morning and her child, they have been moved three times since Wednesday into different accommodation.”

On Tuesday evening, almost a week after the fire, Sky News reported that a number of survivors were still sleeping in the Westway Centre. They feared, it reported, that if they went elsewhere council officials would wash their hands of them entirely and prevent them from being rehoused in the borough. Sky reported that it had been told that a number of people were sleeping in cars and even in parks since the fire and had received no assistance.

The callous disregard for human suffering by the powers that be and the humiliating treatment that survivors have been subjected to over the past week is an object lesson in the real priorities of the ruling elite.

The terrible, entirely preventable, catastrophe unleashed on the Grenfell residents and the working-class community around it reveals the true face of a society in which a sated layer of multi-millionaires and billionaires wallow in unimaginable wealth and privilege while working people are condemned to live in death traps.

This video from London, England, says about itself:

22 June 2017

Labour Party MP David Lammy in his first question in the new session of parliament shares his personal friendship with one of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and challenges Tory Party Prime Minister Theresa May over the current state of the criminal investigation.

Grenfell Tower survivors could be made intentionally homeless for turning down homes 200 miles away, claims MP. Labour MP David Lammy claims residents face being moved as far away as Lancashire: here.

Artists for Grenfell, charity song

This 21 June 2017 music video from Britain is called Artists for Grenfell – Bridge Over Troubled Water (Official Video).

From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, 22 June 2017:

Pop stars including Robbie Williams, Rita Ora and members of One Direction have teamed up for a charity single to raise funds for victims of London’s Grenfell Tower fire.

The single, a cover of Simon and Garfunkel‘s 1970 song Bridge Over Troubled Water, was organised by music and TV producer Simon Cowell, and released on streaming services including iTunes and Spotify overnight.

It topped iTunes charts in the UK just hours after its release and has already reached the top 20 in Australia.

All proceeds from the song will go to the London Community Foundation, to assist those affected by last week’s disaster, which saw a fire sweep through the 24-storey apartment block in London.

79 people have so far been confirmed dead in the tragedy, with hundreds still unaccounted for amid protests at Theresa May’s government’s response to the disaster.

The track, which begins with an emotional verse from grime rapper Stormzy, also features stars including Jessie J, James Blunt, Craig David, Geri Halliwell and Roger Daltry, each taking turns singing lines from the song.

It’s backed by Queen’s Brian May, Chic’s Nile Rodgers and The Who’s Pete Townshend who provide musical accompaniment, as well as a choir of locals from the tower’s North Kensington community, including survivors of the blaze. …

The song has been praised online, particularly Stormzy’s rap, which listeners described as “moving”.

The rapper begins the song telling victims “I refuse to forget you, I refuse to be silenced, I refuse to neglect you”, before reflecting personally on the tragedy.

“That could be my mum’s house, that could be my nephew, that could have been me up there, waving my white plain tee up there… I just hope that you rest and you’re free up there,” he says.

Racist Daily Mail blames London Grenfell Tower disaster victims

This 20 June 2017 video from London, England says about itself:

Grenfell Tower survivor Mahad Egal with an import message of community unity in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

By Margot Miller and Robert Stevens in England:

UK’s Daily Mail tries to scapegoat resident for Grenfell Tower inferno

21 June 2017

Amid protests and growing demands for justice to be meted out to the political and corporate figures responsible for the dozens of deaths in the Grenfell Tower fire, the Daily Mail attempted to scapegoat a resident.

Stooping to new lows, on June 16, just two days after the fire, the Mail named the occupant of the flat where the horrific inferno that gutted the tower on the Lancaster West estate London allegedly began.

As well as naming Behailu Kebede, a father of one, originally from Ethiopia and employed as a taxi driver, the newspaper published five photos. One of the captions on a photo of Kebede stated that his ‘faulty fridge started the Grenfell Tower inferno. …”

The Mail tracked down Kebede, who they reported was in “emergency accommodation close to the scene of the disaster.”

An indication of the impact of the Mail reporters’ intrusive behaviour is given by the quotes from Kabedi: “‘I am very upset’. Asked whether the fire started in his flat, he replied: ‘I’m busy, I’m busy. Goodbye’.”

According to all reports, after the fire began, Kebede immediately raised the alarm and tried to alert as many people as possible. One of Kebede’s neighbours is even reported by the Mail, in the same article in which it disclosed his identity, as stating, “‘He knocked on the door, and he said there was a fire in his flat. It was exactly 12.50 am because I was sleeping and it woke me up. ‘The fire was small in the kitchen. I could see it because the flat door was open. There was no alarm’.”

Kebede cannot be blamed in any way for the fact that Grenfell was turned into a towering inferno within minutes in the early hours of June 14. Citing BBC Panorama, on Monday, the Mail, as part of an effort to distance itself from its earlier report, wrote, “Firefighters who successfully tackled the fridge fire that started the Grenfell Tower thought their job was done and began to leave—only realising how quickly it had spread when they stepped outside. Units were called to what they believed to be a standard fridge fire at the doomed high-rise, and within minutes told residents the fire was out in the flat.

“The crew was leaving the building when firefighters outside spotted flames rising up the side of the building. …”

The only reason for the Mail to disclose Kebede’s identity was to deflect the growing anger of the population in London and nationally, who are demanding the real culprits be held responsible, towards a single individual.

Kebede’s ethnic background is a not-insignificant aspect of his treatment by the Mail, given that we are dealing with a hate sheet that regularly churns out a torrent of anti-immigrant bile.

No one should accept the claim that the fire was even caused by a faulty fridge. The Mail report makes no mention of the warning made by the Grenfell Action Group, who posted in a blog last November: “The Grenfell Action Group believe that the KCTMO [Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation—who ran the block on behalf of the local council], narrowly averted a major fire disaster at Grenfell Tower in 2013 when residents experienced a period of terrifying power surges that were subsequently found to have been caused by faulty wiring.”

Such was the opposition to its article scapegoating Kabede that the Mail was forced to issue through gritted teeth a statement just hours after it was published, stating: “For the record MailOnline believes that, while much is still unclear, the blame for this tragedy lies squarely with those responsible for managing and renovating the tower and the authorities in charge of the policies and safety regulations within which they were operating.”

The Mail’s report met with such a groundswell of public hostility that its comments section solicited the following responses, from among 544 who overwhelmingly opposed the newspaper:

  •  “This is not his fault. In these tower blocks a fire is meant to be containable not spread in 15 minutes. He went to his neighbours and started banging on [t]heir doors to make them aware of what was happening.”
  •  “Not his fault. Faulty manufacturer of fridge and faulty construction of tower. That fire should never have spread the way it did. Most flat fires rarely spread beyond a floor or two. The only ones to blame are the ones who decided to save a couple pennies by slapping that cheap covering on the building.”
  •  “I feel so sorry for this man. He, like everyone else in that tower block didn’t know they were living in a death trap. The blame lies elsewhere.”
  •  “He didn’t cause the deaths. … Remember there were no sprinkler system, inadequate fire escapes, poor building compl[i]ance & bad advice for the situation. Stop holding him up as the villain in this story.”
  •  “It was the building that was faulty because fires don’t spread that fast unless there is something very flammable there.”

These comments reflect a growing oppositional mood within the population to the ruling elite.

The Mail article prompted about 1,300 complaints to the press watchdog, the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso). The Guardian reported that the complaints in their majority related “to privacy and harassment clauses in the editors’ code. A number of complaints focus on intrusion into grief and shock.” It added, “The article ranks among the top five most complained-about to Ipso.”

The response to the Mail is public recognition that Kebede, like all residents of Grenfell Tower, is a victim of successive government policies that have aided and abetted corporate mass murder.

Far more important than where the fire actually began is why it was able to rapidly spread and sweep up the outside of the building in minutes, engulfing other flats and creating such a conflagration. This is because last year the building was covered in a combustible cladding that served to channel the fire upwards in a chimney effect. It is already established that the flammable cladding material was chosen by those companies overseeing the “refurbishment” of the tower because it was £2-per-square-metre cheaper than a fire-resistant alternative. The savings made amounted to just £5,000.

Grenfell Tower lacked any essential fire safety standards and was a death trap. There was no central fire alarm system, no sprinkler system and only one stairwell for escape.

In addition, some witnesses who escaped and local residents reported seeing blue flames as the tower set alight, which is consistent with the escape of gas. Recent work on the flats involved the gas supply. A number of residents and the Grenfell Action Group previously reported their concern to the KCTMO and Fire Brigade about exposed gas pipes.

The Financial Times reported that only in March, just three months before the fire broke out, the “Grenfell Tower’s leaseholders association wrote to the London Fire Brigade complaining about the still-exposed gas pipe and its location in the stairwell. … The pipe, the letter says ‘has put our life in danger and we don’t feel secure in the building any more’.”

This 20 June 2017 video from London, England says about itself:

A Grenfell Tower support worker speaks out about the problems Grenfell Tower survivors and other local residents evacuated from their homes have in accessing emergency support.

By Conrad Landin in Britain:

More tragedy fears as Tories lower fire standards in schools

Wednesday 21st June 2017

FIREFIGHTERS and teachers joined forces yesterday to warn that new building regulations “significantly increase the fire risk in schools.”

Last summer the government announced that it would not, as expected, require new schools to fit sprinkler systems. The decision was met with protests from the National Union of Teachers and the Fire Brigades Union.

The government’s Building Bulletin guidelines also increased the permitted size of compartmented areas in all schools, which are designed to stop fires from spreading.

The bulletin no longer requires each floor to be compartmented in unsprinklered schools and does not include sections from the original 2007 Bulletin discouraging the use of combustible materials for cladding buildings.

Following last week’s horrific fire at Grenfell Tower in west London, which did not have sprinklers fitted, three union leaders have raised concerns over the government’s refusal to recognise the risks of its new policy.

Association of Teachers and Lecturers general secretary Mary Bousted said: “It is shocking that the government continues to ignore the recommendations on fire safety in schools. The government, now more than ever, needs to make assurances that they will prioritise the health and safety of pupils and staff in school buildings and implement the changes required to keep them safe.”

It is thought that the cladding of Grenfell Tower allowed the fire to spread to engulf the entire building.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “It is staggering we still have to have this debate with the government in the current circumstances.

It highlights the endless problems we have faced when raising fire safety issues over several years.”

The unions spoke out as Labour demanded answers from the government after leaked letters appeared to show that ministers had been repeatedly warned that fire regulations were not keeping people safe at blocks such as Grenfell.

The 12 letters, sent by the all-party parliamentary fire safety and rescue group in the aftermath of a 2009 fatal fire at Lakanal House, south London, show that ministers were warned that people living in high rises were at risk and warned the government “could not afford to wait for another tragedy,” according to the BBC’s Panorama.

This 20 June 2017 video says about itself:

Fire Safety Test On Grenfell Tower Type Cladding

Australian government TV channel conducts fire safety test on cladding used in the Grenfell Tower as opposed to fire retardant cladding.

By Julie Hyland in Britain:

UK government deregulation led to Grenfell Tower inferno

21 June 2017

The Grenfell Tower inferno reveals the appalling human cost of the UK’s “light touch” regulation celebrated by successive Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat governments.

For almost 40 years, the assault on health and safety regulations has gone hand in glove with Margaret Thatcher’s notorious dictum that there is “no such thing as society.”

One of Thatcher’s first acts was to prevent local authorities from building homes on the grounds that the “market” would provide. This cleared the way for the huge growth in land and housing prices—and rampant speculation—that has turned London into the world’s fifth most expensive city.

Accompanying this has been the dismantling of housing and planning regulations to reduce the cost “burden” to business.

In 1986, the Thatcher government scrapped the London Building Acts. This originated out of the Great Fire of London in 1666, which destroyed 80 percent of the city. Fully 70,000 of London’s then 80,000 inhabitants lost their homes or premises. The exact loss of life is unknown.

According to the Telegraph, the Acts stipulated that “external walls must have at least one hour of fire resistance to prevent flames from spreading between flats or entering inside.” But “those rules were replaced by the National Buildings Regulations and the crucial time stipulation was scrapped.”

Grenfell Tower was completed in 1974 so its design was unaffected by this change. Significantly, however, the new regulations specified that external building materials would now only have to meet “Class O” regulations, and most crucially did not have to be non-combustible.

During a supposed refurbishment of the block in 2016, external cladding was added to improve the building’s appearance when viewed from nearby luxury housing. A fire-resistant cladding option was rejected on the grounds of cost—a measly £5,000 difference. Moreover, it is reported that this combustible material was laid over the top of gas pipes.

Claims of ignorance as to the dangers posed do not wash. As far back as 1999, under Tony Blair’s Labour government, parliament was informed of the potential risks of fire spreading via external cladding systems.

After the deaths of six people in the Lakanal House tower block fire in Camberwell, south London in 2009, the coroner, Judge Frances Kirkham, wrote to then-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles with recommendations including the installation of sprinkler systems. An estimated 4,000 tower blocks nationally were said to be at risk, with non-fire-resistant external panelling cited as a factor in the spread of fire.

Despite repeated assurances by former housing minister Gavin Barwell, now Theresa May’s chief of staff, nothing was done. In 2014 then-Housing Minister Brandon Lewis rejected forcing construction companies to fit sprinkler systems, arguing, “The cost of fitting a fire sprinkler system may affect house building—something we want to encourage.”

Only last year, fire chiefs wrote to local councils following an investigation into a fire at the Shepherd Court tower block, also in West London, in August. This had uncovered that external cladding helped the fire to spread. In its report into the blaze, Insurers RSA stated that flammable material in insulation panels “melts and ignites relatively easily” and can cause “extremely rapid fire spread and the release of large volumes of toxic smoke… This allows extensive and violent fire to spread, and makes firefighting almost impossible.”

No action was taken.

This is not the result of “mistakes” and oversight. It is a deliberate policy. Consider the fact that only last year, the government junked the “expectation” that all new school buildings should be fitted with sprinklers. The expectation, which had been in force for only nine years, was not compulsory and was not retroactive, meaning that schools built before 2007 were exempt. Just 30 percent of new school buildings had actually obliged.

Sprinkler systems account for less than two percent of total construction costs. According to the Association of British Insurers, there had been 1,500 fires in schools and educational premises over that year. But even this was considered an unwelcome regulatory burden on corporations.

The dismantling of health and safety regulation was stepped up in the wake of the 2008 financial crash, which was used as an opportunity to further liberate big business from its regulatory shackles. The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition of 2010 pledged a “one-in, one-out” rule, whereby no new regulation could be brought in unless another was junked.

Prime Minister David Cameron pledged, “I will kill off safety culture.” Declaring “war” on the “excessive health and safety culture that has become an albatross around the neck of British businesses,” he said, “We need to realise, collectively, that we cannot eliminate risk and that some accidents are inevitable.”

Liberal Democrat Business Secretary in the coalition, Vince Cable, introduced a Cabinet “Star Chamber” charged with bringing “an end to the excessive regulation that is stifling business growth.”

No less than two reviews were commissioned in two years to decide what regulations should be jettisoned, under Lord Young and Professor Löfstedt.

Cameron wrote to ministers in April 2011, “I want us to be the first government in modern history to leave office having reduced the overall burden of regulation, rather than increasing it.”

The 21,000 statutory rules and regulations in force were to be slashed in half. All existing regulations were published on-line, sector-by-sector, with the invitation to “the public and interested parties” to say which should be scrapped.

Whereas in the past the assumption had been regulations should remain unless there was a “good case for getting rid of them,” the government was changing “that presumption; we are changing the default setting,” Cameron wrote.

Ministerial teams were held “personally accountable for the number of regulations contained within and coming out of departments, and the burden they impose… they must go, once and for all.”

Cameron determined that “businesses will no longer have to report minor accidents; up to a million self-employed workers will be exempted from health and safety regulation completely; a new panel will give firms the right to challenge controversial inspection decisions; and from this month, the Health and Safety Executive begins the task of abolishing or consolidating up to half of existing regulations.”

Corporations were no longer held to account automatically in the event of an accident, and insurers were instructed not to try to enforce “insane levels of compliance” on them.

In 2012, the “one in, one out” rule on deregulation became “one in, two out”. By 2015, the government was celebrating that it had cut house-building regulations by 90 percent.

Following the Leave vote in last year’s Brexit referendum, the financial oligarchy was salivating over the prospect of a “bonfire” of European Union regulation. The Telegraph celebrated Brexit as a “golden opportunity” “to get rid of as many regulations as possible.”

“Free trade, competition and a state that sets light but well enforced rules: these are the best ways to ensure not only a healthy market but also a fair one,” it pontificated.

Conservative ministers John Whittingdale and Michael Gove encouraged the Confederation of British Industry to draw up a list of regulations they wanted abolished or reformed.

May’s so-called Brexit “Great Repeal Bill”—the transfer of EU-derived laws to UK bodies or ministers, provides for “Henry VIII clauses.” These parliamentary procedures date back to the 16th century, when King Henry VIII effectively gave himself the powers to rule by decree. It enables ministers and civil servants to decide what regulations should be kept, amended or discarded without recourse to parliament.

John Longworth, former CBI director general urged the formation of another “Star Chamber” to oversee this process that is “not frightened to think the unthinkable.”

As an indication of what is intended:

In January parliament voted down the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Bill. The Bill, which only applied to private households, sought to update 1957 legislation that required properties with an annual rent below £80 in London and £52 elsewhere to be fit for human habitation. The 1957 legislation was enforced against the background of notorious and ruthless slum landlord profiteers, such as Peter Rachman, who operated in the Notting Hill area, in which Grenfell Tower is located.

No homes in London now fall below that rental value. Still the Bill was rejected by a majority of 93, 72 of whom were private landlords, on the grounds that it would place “a huge burden” on landlords.

In February, the government celebrated the fruits of its anti-Red Tape challenge. Boasting that more than 2,400 pieces of regulation had been scrapped since the initiative began, it highlighted, “Businesses with good records have had fire safety inspections reduced from six hours to 45 minutes, allowing managers to quickly get back to their day job.”

This 21 June 2017 video from London, England says about itself:

John McDonnell in an ad lib doorstop interview has committed the Labour Party to installing sprinkler systems in all public housing blocks as well as fixing them to be up to modern fire standards.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Mayor tells May what he expects from inquiry

Wednesday 21st June 2017

PEOPLE directly affected by the devastating Grenfell Tower fire should be integral to any inquiry, Sadiq Khan told the Prime Minister yesterday.

In a letter to Theresa May, Labour’s London mayor made strong recommendations on the scope of an inquiry.

He said that those affected by the fire in the high-rise block — for which the death toll stands at 79 — should be granted “core participant” status, allowing them access to evidence and to make representations in the hearing or suggest lines of inquiry.

Evidence should also be preserved by police using powers of seizure, he added.

He urged Ms May to appoint a senior judge to lead the process and said the Prime Minister should not meet the chairman “to avoid questions over the integrity and independence of the inquiry.”

He also said that legal fees should be covered to make sure that the concerns of the Grenfell community are not drowned out by the financial backing of other parties involved.

Mr Khan advised that the inquiry be split into two halves, the first of which would deal with the cause of the fire, how it spread, the recent refurbishment, the management of the block, whether safety warnings were ignored, the handling of the fire and co-ordination of support and to those affected.

A second stage would would examine the lessons to be learned from the tragedy including whether previous advice had been absorbed, whether a re-examination of building and fire-prevention regulation is needed and if the regime for checking fire safety is adequate, and an audit of “wider resilience arrangements”.