Theresa May breaks promise to London Grenfell disaster survivors


This video from London, England says about itself:

18 October 2017

Grenfell Speaks to Zeyad Cred about the Grenfell silent march and the importance of keeping this growing movement going on the 14th of every month.

By Felicity Collier in Britain:

Only 14 Grenfell families rehoused since catastrophe

Friday 20th October 2017

LABOUR accused the government yesterday of failing to keep its promises made in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower disaster because only 14 families have since been rehoused.

Shadow housing minister John Healey said that 152 households are still living in hotels four months on from the deadly fire that killed around 80 people.

He reminded Communities Secretary Sajid Javid that, days after the disaster, Prime Minister Theresa May had said: “I have fixed a deadline of three weeks for everybody affected to be found a home.”

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Javid admitted that only 14 families have been rehoused permanently, and that the number still needing a new home has risen to 202.

Fewer than one in 10 of the 4,000 high-rise blocks in the country have been tested by the government for fire safety and the flammability of exterior cladding similar to the material that fuelled the Grenfell blaze, Mr Healey said.

Mr Javid has “refused any government funds for essential fire safety work on other high-rise blocks,” he added.

The Communities Secretary revealed that out of 169 high-rise social housing towers in England that have Grenfell-style cladding, 161 are unlikely to meet current fire safety standards and work would be needed to make them safe.

Some 32 councils have expressed concern about funding for improvement works.

Meanwhile, it emerged yesterday that the Metropolitan Police has advised Kensington and Chelsea Council not to release its correspondence with the London Fire Brigade relating to the potential risks of the cladding on Grenfell and other buildings.

Making tower blocks safe for thousands of people in the wake of the Grenfell Tower inferno will cost £405 million in London, according to a report published by the Local Government Chronicle (LGC): here.

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British Conservative government damages fire safety


At a march demanding Justice for Grenfell a local resident holds a piece of the cladding which contributed to the deaths in North Kensington

This photo shows a march in London, England demanding Justice for Grenfell, where a local resident holds a piece of the cladding which contributed to the deaths in North Kensington.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Saturday, 14 October 2017

ALMOST A THIRD OF FIRE SAFETY INSPECTORS HAVE BEEN CUT

ALMOST a third of fire safety inspectors have been cut by this Tory government, a new report revealed, leaving buildings which are potential fire traps unchecked, putting the general public’s lives in jeopardy.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU), who compiled the figures from a series of Freedom of Information requests, says the staggering 28% drop in inspector numbers across the UK is a ‘risk to public safety’.

The union warns that the real figure could be much higher as some fire and rescue services do not know how many inspectors they employed in 2010. West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, which covers England’s third biggest city, Leeds, was hardest hit, losing 70% of its inspectors. Fire services in Gloucestershire, Durham, Cumbria, Norfolk and Avon all lost more than half of their fire safety specialists.

Fire safety inspectors are responsible for ensuring that communal buildings and public spaces meet fire safety standards. An essential part of fire prevention, the inspectors have played an important role in the long term reduction of serious fires – a trend that is under threat if the cuts continue, the FBU has warned.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the FBU, said: ‘Fire safety specialists play an essential role in the fire service. They help to enforce fire safety regulations that save lives and prevent damage to property. Fire services need proper funding, more inspectors and greater support if they are to continue keeping people safe.

Grenfell Tower has underlined the importance of fire safety in buildings. The drastic cut in fire safety inspectors makes it much more difficult for those remaining to do their job effectively. The government needs to wake up to what endless budget cuts have done to the lifesaving fire service.’

The impact of the reduction could be worse than feared as 16 fire and rescue services could not provide data on the number of fire safety inspectors they employed in 2010. The union says this is proof that the government’s ‘laissez-faire’ approach to regulating fire services, leaving the responsibility to local authorities, has backfired.

HM Inspector of Fire Services in England and Wales, the organisation that had been recording these figures, was scrapped in 2000. Since then, data on inspector numbers has been patchy with some fire services unable to produce figures when asked. The FBU’s October parliamentary briefing paper entitled Fire and Rescue Service Matters states: ‘Cuts to the number of fire safety inspectors, who are responsible for vital statutory fire safety inspections and audits, are putting the public at risk.

‘These are the inspectors who audit hospitals, schools, offices, shops as well as other communal and public spaces to check the owners are complying with safety law. Under the Fire Safety Order 2005, or similar legislation in the devolved administrations, fire and rescue authorities have important duties to enforce fire safety law.

‘Yet the number of professional, specially-trained fire safety inspectors who carry out this irreplaceable work has been cut for the past two decades. Since 2010, the number of fire safety inspectors has fallen by 28%. This is greater than the drastic fall in staffing right across the fire and rescue service, which is approximately 20%.

‘Since 2013, the number of fire safety inspectors has fallen by 13%. Four fifths of fire and rescue services provided data, indicating that a significant minority are not even in a position to quantify their inspectors at present. The Grenfell Tower fire has underlined the importance of the work of fire safety inspectors.

‘The London Fire Brigade was able to provide detailed figures for our request – a decade ago the LFB had over 200 fire safety inspectors, but this has been reduced to just over 150 in 2017. There are currently 1,169 fire safety inspectors across the UK. The Westminster government does not routinely publish figures on the number of these inspectors.

‘The old HM inspector of fire services in England and Wales, scrapped at the turn of the century, reported these figures annually. In 1996-97, it estimated there were 1,724 fire safety inspectors in England and Wales. Today there are 1,041 indicating a 40% fall in the number of inspectors over the last twenty years.’

A Glasgow tower block with ‘Grenfell-style’ cladding is being checked by firefighters every four hours. Residents of Castlebank Drive in the Glasgow Harbour development also have two 24-hour fire wardens on the site. However, this is cold comfort to all those who live in these blocks who remain in fear for their lives.

Firefighters are so worried about the building found to have Grenfell-style cladding that they are checking on it at least three times a day and three times every night. Homeowners received letters telling them cladding in lift areas and the roof could be similar to that used in Grenfell Tower in London, where so many men, women and children burnt to death in the inferno in June.

Council contractors last week removed samples of cladding for testing. One resident of the flats said they have now been told the cladding in their property has been identified as ‘high risk’. They said: ‘The cladding in my block and one other has no fire resistance at all.

‘We now have two 24-hour fire wardens, four-hourly visits from the fire brigade and a huge amount of parking attendants ensuring that access is clear. I would’ve thought the emergency should have been immediately after Grenfell – not four months later.’

David McGown, of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said two properties had been identified by Glasgow City Council as raising concerns. He added: ‘As part of a package of reassurance measures, firefighters are conducting regular site visits at both these properties. Our community action teams are also offering residents free home fire safety visits.’

Aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding became notorious after the Grenfell fire on June 14. It was thought to have played a part in the rapid spread of the blaze. Last month, a senior Glasgow City Council official revealed that a survey done in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire identified combustible cladding on privately owned flats in the city.

British government breaks fire safety promise


This 21 June 2017 video from the USA about London, England is called How Neoliberalism Caused The Grenfell Tower Fire.

By Robert Stevens in Britain:

UK government refuses funds for unsafe tower blocks post-Grenfell

13 October 2017

Thousands of people nationally are living in buildings that are unsafe, in both the public and private sector, due to the criminal inaction of local and central government.

Following the Grenfell Tower fire, it was revealed that in England alone at least 228 high-rise buildings, over 18 metres in height, were potential death traps. They all have the same or similar aluminium composite material (ACM) cladding that was a central factor in a small kitchen blaze in a fourth floor flat that engulfed the entire 24-storey building.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, with an estimated 30,000 buildings—of all types and sizes—throughout the UK possibly having similar cladding.

After the fire, the Conservative government was forced to instruct councils and housing associations to compile lists of buildings that were deemed unsafe. The government claimed that money would be forthcoming for cash-strapped councils—whose budgets have been slashed, in some cases by 50 percent over the last decade—to complete remedial work.

This was a lie. Councils are faced with bills that run into the tens of millions of pounds to remove and replace flammable cladding. In addition, no money has been made available to help fund the installation of sprinkler systems, despite fire brigades insisting they are essential to prevent the spread of fires in tower blocks.

Even a tower block adjacent to Grenfell Tower has been revealed as unsafe. An investigation by the LBC Radio station, in which Chartered Surveyor and fire safety expert Arnold Tarling inspected the building, found “insecure rubbish chutes running all the way up the building; fire escapes with doors so heavy and stiff, they were inaccessible to disabled people; and fire doors that are flammable.”

According to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), 31 local authorities have demanded funding from the government for carrying out remedial work. A Guardian article reported that the DCLG is in talks with just six authorities while “others had been invited to provide further information about how the work they wished to undertake was essential.”

In the city of Salford, north west England, the Labour-run council has borrowed £25 million to fund the removal of flammable cladding from nine tower blocks that tests found had “no flame retardant properties.” The council has contacted the government regarding providing funding for the work without success.

Thousands of high-rise blocks in the UK do not have sprinkler systems installed, as fitting them has only been legally required since 2007, and only then in new-build high-rises over 30 metres tall, in England. The legislation did not apply to older blocks. It is estimated that just 2 percent of tower blocks in England have sprinkler systems.

Following Grenfell, fire brigades nationally have insisted that retroactively fitting sprinklers systems in all high-rises was necessary to prevent future catastrophes. Last month, Paul Atkins, a fire safety expert who will present testimony at the Grenfell Inquiry, told the BBC, “If they’d [the Grenfell residents] had a sprinkler system the fire would have been deluged before it got to the cladding. … To date no-one has ever died in a fire with a sprinkler system in the household, so the proof’s in the pudding. You’ve got a 99 percent chance of surviving.”

According to Atkins, installing a sprinkler system in Grenfell Tower would have cost between £500,000 and £700,000.

According to the Guardian, at least four councils—Westminster, Croydon and Wandsworth in London and Nottingham in the east Midlands—have been refused central government money to fund sprinkler systems. Nottingham council proposed to install sprinklers in 13 towers at a cost of £6.2 million. Demonstrating the criminal disregard of the ruling elite for the safety of thousands of social housing residents, they were told bluntly by Housing Minister Alok Sharma that money would not be forthcoming as “The fire safety measures you outline are additional rather than essential.”

Post-Grenfell, the government instructed local authorities and housing associations to carry out surveys on the safety of buildings under their control, but private sector owners of high-rises were not compelled to do so. Private owners of developments less than 18 metres tall are exempt from any responsibility.

In June, the DCLG said it was merely “offering private owners of residential buildings [in England only] an opportunity to test cladding on blocks over 18 meters high …” A letter sent to private owners stated, “If you wish to take up this offer, then you will need to submit samples for testing” and “Cut out two samples of at least 250x250mm in size from each location sampled.” Such samples were then to be sent to a testing centre in a jiffy bag!

All political parties are implicated.

Scotland is run by a Scottish National Party (SNP) administration, and for decades before that by Labour Party local authorities.

Last month, it emerged that combustible cladding had been installed on many private high-rise blocks in the city of Glasgow, with residents living there not informed.

At first 57 blocks were identified as unsafe, before this figure was reduced to 19 without explanation. It was only at the end of September that residents in the 19 blocks were even informed that they were living in buildings with combustible cladding.

SNP-run Glasgow City Council has refused to publicly identify either the original 57 blocks or the 19. However, last week the Evening Times reported that three of the privately-owned blocks are located at Glasgow Harbour. Two of the towers contain 273sqm of cladding and another smaller block, 37sqm.

In 2005, following the 1999 Irvine Tower fire, regulations were passed by the Scottish government, then under Labour control determining that all materials used for “external cladding and associated cavities” were required to be non-combustible and the entire system should inhibit the spread of fire. However, this condition was not imposed on tower blocks built and clad prior to that date—meaning that the safety of many tenants and property owners in social housing and privately-owned blocks remain threatened.

In Slough, the council has been forced to take over the freehold of privately-owned Nova House—at an unknown cost to the public purse—after it failed two safety tests. The block houses 200 residents and has combustible ACM cladding. It is estimated that the cost of making the building safe is £1 million with the council stating that the previous private owner, Ground Rents Estates 5 Limited, did not have “the capacity to do what is needed …”

Since September 27, a fire engine has been permanently stationed—at the council’s expense—in the car park next to the block.

As with Grenfell Tower, it appears that cost cutting was involved in the cladding process, as the original cladding intended for the building that would have passed safety checks was not used.

Nearly four months since the Grenfell Tower fire, and a month since the government inquiry into the inferno began, not a single person has been charged let alone arrested for a crime in which scores perished.

The Metropolitan Police have not said a word about its “criminal investigation” since September 19 when it said officers would continue working in the tower into the New Year and only open another police operation into Grenfell when that was finished.

Hundreds of survivors of the fire remain in temporary accommodation, with just 10 households out of 203 permanently rehoused.