Socialist Worker

‘We’ve got no faith in Grenfell fire inquiry’

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2566

Hamerton Road in north Manchester where tenants have set up a campaign to pressure landlords over cladding and insulation

Hamerton Road in north Manchester where tenants have set up a campaign to pressure landlords over cladding and insulation (Pic: Flickr/raver_mikey)


As the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry stopped taking submissions, survivors and campaigners slammed its narrow mandate.

Chris Imafidon, a volunteer in the west London area where the disaster took place, told Socialist Worker, “I have no faith in the inquiry.”

The inquiry can only make “recommendations”. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and several social landlords’ organisations called for an inquiry with a broader remit.

Corbyn said, “An inquiry with narrow terms of reference risks failing to learn all the lessons of this tragedy.”

Over 300 submissions have been made to the inquiry. None are likely to come from undocumented migrants. Immigration minister Brandon Lewis granted only a year’s reprieve from deportation if they come forward.

“Their so-called amnesty is a joke,” said Chris. “If you have the threat of deportation hanging over your head you’re not going to come forward.” He added, “Theresa May doesn’t care about the people who died in that tower.”

Survivors still wait to be housed.

Residents on walkways surrounding the tower have been told to join long waiting lists if they don’t want to move back into their houses.

People whose neighbours died in the fire should not be forced to live next to the coffin of Grenfell.

Those who agree to stay put get £5,000 “to acknowledge the impact of the fire” plus redecoration and professional cleaning services.

But if residents don’t want to move back, they “will be able to look for permanent housing through the council’s allocations and lettings process,” read a letter seen by Socialist Worker.

Ignoring

Moyra Samuels of the Justice for Grenfell campaign said, “The Tories are trying to wear people out with endless meetings, but meanwhile they’re ignoring people’s needs.”

Residents across Britain are having to fight to get their landlords to take their concerns seriously after the fire.

Some 90 buildings with the same cladding and insulation combination as Grenfell Tower have failed new tests by the Building Research Establishment.

The government’s response has been to let landlords off the hook, saying only that they should “put in place a plan to review the cladding system”.

City West Housing Trust in Manchester said, “We will not be starting” removing the materials.

Council tenants in north Manchester have been organising to put pressure on management organisation Northwards Housing.

Fiona from the Hamerton Action Group (HAG) told Socialist Worker, “We’ve had a catalogue of concerns ignored. The campaign was set up after Grenfell because of the lack of information.

“In 2013 new cladding was put up, we want to know if we’re safe.”

The group has leafletted residents and written to councillors and MPs—though only one has so far replied. Northwards is now “considering” having the cladding tested.

Fiona said, “It wasn’t until we pushed back that we started to see results. We just want the cladding tested—they’re not doing anything and I want to know why.”


Lendlease refuses to give social housing guarantee in Haringey

The campaign against a disastrous housing redevelopment in Haringey, north London, has taken important steps forward.

Some 30 people attended a tenants’ meeting on the Northumberland Park estate last week. Activists have leafleted estates and areas that will be affected by the demolition.

Councillors have given verbal guarantees that council tenants will have the right to return after redevelopment on the same tenancies.

However, the property developer Lendlease, with which the council is in partnership, has admitted there is no place in its business plan for such a guarantee.

Lendlease has a track record of riding over the council’s concerns, particularly around social housing.

No Permission for Demolition demonstration 23 September
Housing campaigners are getting organised for a national housing summit on 7 October
A national organising meeting is set to take place on 9 September 11am, at Blemindsbury Tenants Hall, Dombey St, London, WC1N 3PF
For an activists’ action plan go to bit.ly/2vbJ7JG

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