Some 500 people demonstrated on Monday evening to remember the dead of the Grenfell Tower fire. Although the march was silent, the anger was palpable.
Immediately after the inferno Tory prime minister Theresa May said people forced to move by the fire would be rehoused within three weeks.
But survivor Sid told Socialist Worker, “We’re still in hotels two months on. We’re being offered ridiculous houses, many are in bad condition and some are even flooded.”
At a meeting on Friday of last week another survivor, Zoe Dainton, called the promise “a lie to the newspapers”.
“They’ve put Kensington Row in the papers, but I haven’t been offered a flat there and I don’t know anyone who has,” she said. “It’s on the other side of the borough as well.
Zoe added, “People need to go to prison for what happened.”
First on that list should be the bosses of the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), the body that manages housing for the Tory council. It ignored residents’ warnings over safety before the fire.
A representative from KCTMO is yet to attend the weekly Grenfell Fire Response (GFR) meetings to face the anger of survivors and residents.
Tory council leader Elizabeth Campbell said she “didn’t know” why a KCTMO representative hadn’t come to a meeting yet but that they “will be asked to attend”.
Local housing activist Jan Sweeney told Socialist Worker, “The council is talking about rehousing people with the KCTMO.
“But nobody has any trust in them after what they’ve done.”
Campbell also said she was set to meet “some of the largest housing associations” to discuss rehousing people.
But no-one should lose the rights that come with a council tenancy as a result of a deal between Campbell and the big “social” landlords.
The council would only tell Socialist Worker, “We are looking at what we can do by buying more properties and working with social and private landlords.”
At last Wednesday’s GFR meeting Campbell said people could “be viewing and accepting things” by “the end of September”.
Even this is too late. And Zoe said, “The housing officer told us that it will probably take a year to house us.”
The wall of silence from the council and KCTMO has infuriated people.
“They’re still hiding from us,” said Sid on Monday’s march. “But the truth is going to come out.”
Thursday 14 September, 6.30pm
Notting Hill Methodist Church, 240 Lancaster Road, London W11 4AH
Figure it out
Housing association Affinity Sutton is hoarding this many empty homes in the abandoned Sutton Estate in south Kensington.
That’s enough to house almost everyone affected by the fire.
Affinity Sutton is controlled by Clarion housing association—the largest in Britain.
Will inquiry be a whitewash?
The inquiry into the Grenfell Tower fire will avoid the big picture, after its terms of reference were announced on Tuesday.
Survivors and campaigners want it to look at systemic failings and policy decisions that created the conditions for the fire. Instead it will be limited to the immediate cause of the fire and the actions of authorities before and after it.
Inquiry chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick said anything more would “raise questions of a social, economic and political nature” that are “not suitable for a judge-led inquiry”.
But Tory housing reforms and fire cuts, and a refusal to apply the lessons of the 2009 Lakanal House fire, helped create the disaster.
Joe Delaney from the Grenfell Action Group told Socialist Worker, “It is vital the inquiry covers relevant issues in detail, particularly the relationships between the council, KCTMO and residents’ association.”
The inquiry is set to begin on 14 September. If the establishment has its way it will be a whitewash.