Socialist Worker

Grenfell Tower survivors, relatives and relief workers abandoned by callous council

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2559

The boarded up entrance to Kensington Town Hall

The boarded up entrance to Kensington Town Hall (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Kensington and Chelsea council’s abject failure to help survivors of the Grenfell Tower inferno has seen them officially sidelined.

The relief effort is being taken out of the Tory authority’s hands, to be replaced with a joint operation from the civil service and other London councils.

The Red Cross charity is also to play a bigger role. Yet council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown has refused to say whether he will resign.

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In a BBC interview on Sunday he insisted, “There’s an effective, coordinated relief effort on the ground and I’m sorry if people haven’t seen that.”

But the view from the ground is very different.

Lala lives near Grenfell Tower and her uncle was one of the survivors. She told Socialist Worker, “My uncle was evacuated and just left to his own devices.

“He received no information, no help. He wasn’t even allowed to go back to his house to get his medication.

“We’re trying to find out what to do but there’s no communication from the council. We’re being told that people are being rehoused but there’s no evidence of that.”

The government has refused to promise to rehouse those who lost their homes within the borough. Some fear being sent far away into the north of England.

Temporary

Those who agree to leave for “temporary” accommodation risk never being able to live in the area again. Some have nowhere to stay.

As Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pointed out on Sunday, hundreds of people are put up in hotels due to cancelled flights at airports every day. So why can’t the same be done for Grenfell survivors?

At a furious legal advice meetingon Saturday, survivors and supporters slammed the council and the government.

“I am ashamed to say I work for this borough,” said one council worker.

“I saw 11 people die—men, women, and children,” said someone else. “A lot of people are scared because they’re living in properties run by these killers.”

Much of the relief effort is being run by volunteers organising themselves.

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But the council leadership has not opened up all community centres and halls for the relief effort.

Socialist Worker went to the Kensall Road Resource Centre on Saturday. It was empty.

Paget-Brown was scheduled to hold a question and answer event on Tuesday at 6:30pm in All Saints Church, SW7 2PA. If it goes ahead it could be huge.

Fearful of being engulfed by the anger themselves, some top Tories are trying to keep it focused on the council and the landlord, KCTMO.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said on Sunday that the cladding used on Grenfell Tower was illegal. This should be clear grounds for criminal prosecutions against those who decided to use it.

But it doesn’t get ministers off the hook for their role in creating the conditions for the fire. Tory government and Tory council are united in murderous contempt for working class lives.


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