London Conservatives bullying Grenfell disaster survivors

Local residents join forces with firefighters to demand ‘No Justice No Peace’ on a march last June – the North Kensington Law Centre claims that Grenfell survivors are being pressurised into accepting sub-standard housing, 150 families are still without homes

From daily News Line in Britain:

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Grenfell survivors pressured to take sub-standard homes – alleges North Kensington Law Centre

KENSINGTON and Chelsea Council, rather than spend money doing up the 133 empty council-owned houses in the borough, has spent almost £30m on hotels for Grenfell survivors waiting to be re-housed.

Almost 16 months after the deadly blaze, more than 150 households that fled the inferno are still waiting to move into a permanent home. Grenfell Tower, which was built between 1972 and 1974, is estimated to have cost £500,000 to build. This is equivalent to around £6.2m in today’s money.

In other words, the council has spent more money on hotels than it would have cost to build almost five towers the size of Grenfell. The North Kensington Law Centre, which has been helping a number of former Grenfell residents, claimed that council officers were pressuring traumatised residents to accept housing that overlooked the husk of the tower in which 72 of their neighbours died.

One woman was coerced into accepting a property that did not have any flooring, the law centre said. She was told she had to accept by 10am the next morning or she would be classified as intentionally homeless, the law centre alleged.

Local Labour MP Emma Dent Coad, meanwhile, said the council had tried to pressure disabled residents into accepting houses that did not have step-free access.

She accused it of ‘bullying’ survivors and claimed the authority was trying blame the hotel bill on them.

‘This is a shocking waste of public money due to the council’s failure to purchase properties suitable to Grenfell affected households’, she said. ‘Do traumatised people who have been through such a terrifying experience want to live six floors up? Do disabled people want to live with floor to ceiling windows so everyone can watch their daily struggles? ‘It is clear that despite everything that has been said in the past year, senior officers and councillors still have little idea how ordinary people live.’

Meanwhile yesterday at the Grenfell Inquiry, Nadia Jafari described how she escaped from the 11th floor but became separated from her 82-year-old father who died. She said that she had complained to the council that her windows kept blowing open when it rained.

She described the night of the fire, grabbing two rugs and panicking. She saw the whole frame of window break and flames entering the kitchen. The fire covered the whole window area of the kitchen and she saw the glass break and that plastic was burning. She said the curtains were on fire.

There has already been strong evidence that badly fitted windows during the refurbishment of the tower contributed to the spread of the fire. Nadia and her father got up and looked out the middle window. They could feel the heat and saw the flames below. Her father had a heart condition. ‘I bent myself out and the fire was just behind the window, underneath it’

She got out of the flat and entered the lift with others. The lift went down to the 10th floor, and then stopped. Nadia gave details about being trapped in the lift. She said: ‘There was no lighting, it was terrifying and the smoke was horrible. It was a strong, bitter chemical smell. I tried to speak but I couldn’t. A man was banging on the door with his legs. Then the doors opened and the lift filled with smoke. ‘I wasn’t able to see, so I closed my eyes and I was coughing and I fell like I needed to vomit.’

• Some residents from flats surrounding the fire were moved into temporary accommodation, hotels and B&Bs because many of them have children who were traumatised by the fire and could not bear to live beside it. The council have sent out a letter threatening them that if they do not return to their flats by October 25, they will lose their tenancy.

The Workers Revolutionary Party and the Young Socialists have called a lobby of the next Kensington and Chelsea full council meeting on Wednesday October 17 at 6pm.

The lobby demands:

Councils must not threaten families to end their tenancy if they do not return home! This is a disgrace!

Re-house all Grenfell families now!

Use the empty properties in the borough!


‘Grenfell’ flammable cladding, continue, British Conservatives say

A local resident holds up charred remains of Grenfell Tower cladding – 468 buildings across the UK are clad in the same flammable aluminium composite – the Tories refuse to ban it

This photo from London, England shows a local resident holding up charred remains of Grenfell Tower cladding; 468 buildings across the UK are clad in the same flammable aluminium composite. And the British Conservative government refuses to ban it.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Tories refuse to ban Grenfell cladding on 468 buildings

FLAMMABLE cladding is not going to be banned from existing buildings, Tory Housing Secretary James Brokenshire announced yesterday at the Conservative Party conference. This is despite the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), survivors from the Grenfell Tower fire and the Royal Institute of British Architects all demanding that it is immediately banned and stripped.

Brokenshire announced that combustible cladding is only to be banned from newly built schools, hospitals, care homes, student accommodation and residential buildings in England and only if the building is above 18m (60ft) tall. The ban will not be applied retrospectively where materials have already been fitted.

After the horror of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, where flammable cladding rapidly spread the fire, buildings were tested around the country. There are 468 high-rise buildings in England which tests have identified as being covered in the same flammable cladding as the Grenfell Tower.

Firefighters union the FBU has called for a complete ban on combustible cladding and the immediate removal of flammable cladding on all buildings in the UK. Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said yesterday: ‘This is not the outright ban on combustible cladding that firefighters have been calling for. The Westminster government continues to allow cladding of limited combustibility for any building work in the future. The FBU called for a universal ban on these flammable materials.

‘These measures do not deal with the existing cladding on nearly 500 buildings across England where people live and work every day. ‘The government’s proposals only apply to buildings over 18 metres high, plus hospitals, care homes and student accommodation – when they should apply to all buildings, whatever their height or use.’

Earlier this year, the Royal Institute of British Architects called for a total ban on flammable cladding, as well as a requirement for sprinklers to be fitted, and a second means of escape for high-rise residential buildings. Of 295 blocks of private flats across England with combustible cladding, including 28 high-rise hotels, only two have been completely fixed.

Of 159 social housing blocks that have cladding that failed fire tests in the wake of the Grenfell disaster, only 15% have had the cladding removed. The government has refused to say which buildings are clad in flammable material. They claim this information could ‘endanger the mental and physical health of people living in the buildings and could compromise their safety.’

However, in a number of councils the truth has come out. For instance, in the London borough of Hackney in east London, three blocks at Lincoln Court, in Bethune Road, Stamford Hill and at Hugh Gaitskell House in Stoke Newington unsafe flammable cladding is present.

Wardens are also patrolling seven-storey Burbage House in Poole Road, Hoxton, from 8pm to 8am to ‘keep an eye on the building’ because of its aluminium composite material with unmodified polyethylene filler which has been shown in tests to not adequately resist fire.

Alarmingly plans to re-clad Landmark Heights, in Daubeney Road Lower Clapton ‘are to be shelved’. Landmark Heights is privately owned but was originally built by the council.

London Grenfell disaster, corporations, Conservatives guilty

This 3 September 2018 video about London, England says about itself:

Grenfell Tower Inquiry

Remy Mohamed, Grenfell Project Coordinator for explains what the organisation does, gives a round up of events at the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, and explains why it’s important to allow lawyers representing bereaved, survivors and the local community to cross examine witnesses.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Friday, 28 September 2018

Kensington & Chelsea Council, Rydon, TMO & Tories must stand trial for Grenfell

THE INQUIRY into the Grenfell Tower inferno was told this week by senior London Fire Brigade officer Andrew O’Loughlin that ‘The building was so horrendous several hours later that I think no one should have lived in the building.’

O’Loughlin was the senior officer present at the blaze that killed 72 people when the brigade changed its long-standing advice for people to stay put in their homes in the event of a fire to calling for an immediate evacuation of the block. O’Loughlin told the inquiry he was ‘confused’ at this change in policy explaining that ‘You wouldn’t expect fire to spread around the building like it did on the outside.’

Yesterday, the head of the London Fire Brigade, commissioner Dany Cotton, gave evidence and was again pressed by the lawyer acting for the inquiry about why people had initially been instructed to stay put. She explained: ‘If a building behaves correctly, then the “stay put” advice is the safest option’ and that a tragedy like Grenfell would have been deemed an ‘unrealistic scenario’ that no amount of training could have prepared firefighters for dealing with.

She said: ‘The complete failure of the building, the ability for a fire to spread across the external face of a building, for it to involve so many people, for it to involve as many fire survival guidance calls, I could go on …’

Throughout this past week of evidence to the inquiry from the fire brigade, a distinct and clear narrative has emerged – namely to spread the responsibility for the deaths of 72 people in the fire as thinly as possible by implicating the very firefighters who risked their lives and so divert attention from the real culprits. In June this year, the Metropolitan Police announced that the Brigade and its senior officers are being investigated over the ‘stay put’ policy with the threat of manslaughter charges hanging over them.

In fact, the London Fire Brigade had issued warnings to all 33 councils in London before Grenfell about the risk of external cladding after a fire on the 7th floor of a block in Shepherd’s Bush in 2016 where fortunately no one was injured. The Brigade urged councils to consider carefully the arrangements for monitoring and approving ‘all aspects of future replacement and improvement of building facades’ and those councils should ensure work complied with regulations ‘to secure public safety and minimise fire losses’.

The Fire Brigade itself had responsibility for fire risk assessments taken away from them in 2005 and turned into a self-certification exercise that could be carried out by anyone, including people employed by the cladding companies themselves. The Fire Brigades Union described the mandatory forms as ‘not fit for purpose’ and said that anyone could set themselves up as a fire risk assessor and that no training or qualifications were necessary.

None of these facts has been investigated by the inquiry in its investigation into the role of the fire service at the Grenfell inferno. Instead, by concentrating on the ‘stay put’ advice, the inquiry appears set on making the fire service and FBU members the scapegoats.

The criminals who must be made to stand trial for the deaths of 72 people are the Tory Kensington and Chelsea Council, the Tenants Management Organisation who put the cladding up, Rydon the company that did the refurbishment, and the Tory government that has closed ten fire stations in London, axed 552 firefighters’ jobs and got rid of 14 fire engines in the capital.

A Tory government that boasted of a ‘bonfire of the regulations’ including the very regulations that would have insisted on real tests on the flammability of the cladding used on Grenfell and not just a useless paper exercise should stand trial. A Tory-run council that threatened legal action against tenants who raised concerns over fire safety in the block should face prosecution.

These are the ones who put profit before the lives of the Grenfell tenants and it is they who must be put on trial for the deaths of 72 men, women and children; not the firefighters who put their lives on the line to save people.

Meghan Markle’s Grenfell cookbook: The royal family in damage control mode: here.

Theatre Review: Must-see drama sparks burning questions on Grenfell disaster: here.

Islamophobic violent attack at London mosque

Police outside The Hussaini Association in Oxgate Lane, Cricklewood, London where two people were injured after a car hit pedestrians leaving the annual Al Hussaini Majlis just after midnight

From daily The Morning Star in England:

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Police investigating ‘hate crime’ after car mounts pavement outside mosque

POLICE are investigating a suspected Islamophobic hate crime after a car hit three people outside a mosque in the early hours of this morning.

A red Nissan Juke mounted the pavement and swerved into bystanders outside the al-Majlis al-Hussaini Islamic centre in Cricklewood, north-west London, where a late-night lecture had just ended.

This is a Shiite Islamic centre.

Officers said the occupants of the car shouted anti-Muslim abuse before driving at a group leaving the centre at about 12.30am this morning.

Two men in their twenties suffered minor injuries and a man in his fifties is in hospital with a serious leg injury, the Metropolitan Police said.

Chief Superintendent Simon Rose said it was “extremely fortunate there was no loss of life,” adding: “It is being dealt with as an Islamophobic hate crime and it is being dealt with as a racist hate crime.”

The incident is not currently being treated as terrorism, the Met said, but detectives are analysing CCTV footage in a bid to trace the driver.

I am a bit afraid that, if this crime would have been perpetrated by a Muslim driver against non-Muslims, then the London Metropolitan Police, and certainly the Rupert Murdoch and other corporate media, would not hesitate one second in labeling it ‘terrorism‘.

See also here.

‘Politicians guilty in London Grenfell disaster’

 Firefighters observe the wreckage of Grenfell Tower

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Monday, September 10, 2018

TUC 2018: Politicians should be held accountable for Grenfell Tower blaze, congress hears

CONGRESS called for politicians to be held to account today over the decisions that led to 72 people dying in the Grenfell Tower blaze last year.

Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack said it was chilling that Grenfell Tower’s refurbishment had turned it into a death trap, with ventilation and safety systems not functioning and the cladding meaning the whole building was “effectively wrapped in petrol”.

Grenfell Tower was safer in 1974 than in 2017. That raises some pretty fundamental questions”, he pointed out.

Unite‘s Maxine Loza, a bus driver from the Grenfell neighbourhood, said a colleague had “lost his home and his daughter” in the fire.

She called for the public inquiry to “be bolder” and “bring scrutiny to the deregulation of building standards.”

The atrocity was “not unlucky but the result of decisions taken by people in authority”, she said, backing Mr Wrack’s call for politicians responsible to be “held to account”.

Composite 3 on Grenfell also called for an end to outsourcing health and safety and building control as well as a ban on combustible materials on the external walls of buildings.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has published a damning report showing successive governments ignored its warnings about building cladding systems nearly 20 years before the entirely avoidable fire that killed 72 at Grenfell Tower last year: here.

DELEGATES at the Trade Union Congress in Manchester yesterday voted unanimously for Composite Motion 3: Grenfell Tower. The motion condemns the tragedy where 72 men, women and children died while also condemning the use of flammable cladding and the lack of safety regulation: here.

Deregulation and austerity: public safety is still at risk post-Grenfell. The fire regulatory system is broken and requires a radical overhaul, says KAREN LEE.