Socialist Worker

Council chiefs resign as pressure builds for Grenfell justice campaign

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2561

Kensington and Chelsea council leaders have stepped aside rather than face the music - they must be dragged into the spotlight

Kensington and Chelsea council leaders have stepped aside rather than face the music - they must be dragged into the spotlight (Pic: Justinc/Wikicommons)


The campaign for justice for the people murdered at Grenfell Tower has scored some successes in the past week—and it can push on for more.

There is deep anger at the contempt shown for working class people before—and after—the fire.

Kensington and Chelsea council leader Nick Paget-Brown and lead councillor for housing Rock Feilding-Mellen have both resigned from their positions. But they remain councillors.

Paget-Brown’s replacement as council leader, Elizabeth Cameron, says she is “truly sorry” for what happened but she was part of his cabinet.

Chief executive of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) Robert Black has also gone. He said it was to “concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry”.

Required

They join council chief executive Nicholas Holgate who stepped down on 22 June. He said that Tory local government minister Sajid Javid “required the leader of the council to seek my resignation”.

The resignations show that the campaign is having some effect and needs to keep the pressure on the people at the top of the government.

“The only thing that works on these people is shame,” Grenfell survivor Joe Delaney told Socialist Worker.

“When you highlight the sheer hypocrisy of their position it becomes untenable. It’s having an effect to an extent.

“I wouldn’t like to take credit for all of these resignations, but I hope it’s helping keep the pressure on.”

The arrogance of Tory councillors and their remoteness from ordinary people has been exposed in the past weeks. During his resignation speech, Paget-Brown gave a mealy-mouthed apology for the “perceived failures” of the council.

Deducted

Last week it emerged that at least one survivor was still having rent deducted. Tory councillor Catherine Faulks said it was “a tiny thing” and complained that the media had treated the council unfairly.

People need security to rebuild their lives, and Kensington and Chelsea council is unwilling to offer that. Survivors who spoke to Socialist Worker said they had not seen a support worker.

The Tories’ own three-week deadline to rehouse people ran out on Wednesday. Some 20 people being housed in a nearby Premier Inn hotel are set to be kicked out at the end of the month.

Survivors are being portrayed as picky and difficult because they don’t want to be rehoused miles from their home, or in tower blocks. But they didn’t cause the fire, the Tories did.

In the most devastating of circumstances, for which they are wholly responsible, the Tories remain as contemptuous and detached as ever.

The rottenness goes to the heart of the borough and up to the top of Westminster. A few sacrificial lambs is nowhere near enough.


Public inquiry must look at wider political responsibility

The Grenfell Tower inquiry was supposed to look into the wider political responsibility for why the inferno took place.

Campaigners and the local Labour MP have demanded Sir Martin Moore-Bick step down

Campaigners and the local Labour MP have demanded Sir Martin Moore-Bick step down (Pic: British Hih Commission/Twitter)


But inquiry head Sir Martin Moore-Bick was “doubtful” that it would cover more than “basic factual questions”. The implication was that the police’s criminal investigation will be left to determine who’s criminally responsible, but not necessarily politically.

Activists and survivors have slammed Moore-Bick. Under pressure, he was then prepared to look at a “broad interpretation of what caused the fire”.

“I met Moore-Bick at the meeting on Thursday,” Grenfell survivor Joe Delaney told Socialist Worker. “I came out of the meeting and said, ‘I’m not satisfied but I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.’

Satisfy

“That lasted two hours until he said he wouldn’t satisfy anyone.”

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called for a broader inquiry, arguing there were “much wider implications for national policy issues”. Now Labour’s shadow fire minister and its Kensington and Chelsea MP say Moore-Bick should quit amid claims he does not have the support of survivors and local residents.

After the Hillsborough football stadium disaster in 1989, the first inquiry introduced new regulations for stadiums. Moore-Bick is managing expectations for a similar outcome.

The families and friends of the 96 dead at Hillsborough had to wait decades for any sort of justice. No one should have to wait that long.

 


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.