Residents and campaigners slammed the public inquiry into the Grenfell blaze as it began today, Thursday. They raised doubts about its scope and ability to deliver justice for the dead and survivors of the west London tower block fire.
Moyra Samuels from the Justice 4 Grenfell campaign told Socialist Worker, “There’s very little confidence in the inquiry panel. A lot of people have demanded in their submissions to the panel that it needs to be more representative.
“We’re hoping that inquiry chair Sir Martin Moore-Bick will appoint some community advisers.”
The start of the inquiry comes alongside news that former housing boss Robert Black is still being paid a six figure salary. He was forced to resign as head of Kensington and Chelsea Tenants Management Organisation (KCTMO), the body that ran Grenfell Tower on behalf of the Tory council.
A KCTMO representative told the Guardian newspaper that assisting investigations into the fire and its aftermath was effectively a full time job.
Residents and campaigners are holding a silent march from Notting Hill Methodist Church this evening (see below). Zeyad Cred, the march’s organiser, told Socialist Worker, “Robert Black still receiving a salary is an insult and makes the organisation a laughing stock.”
Zeyad said that the monthly marches for Grenfell have been growing, showing that people are still angry. “I want people to come from across London and outside it,” he said. “What happened at Grenfell Tower could have happened at any tower block.”
Moyra added, “The the state of social housing in general was excluded from the terms of reference for the inquiry.
“That tells you it’s likely to be watered down—there’s a lot of doubt.”
It’s also unclear whether the Tory council leaders, KCTMO bosses and private contractors who refurbished the tower will have to give answers to the inquiry. “The process has been incredibly slow and mismanaged,” said Moyra.
News emerged last night that just 2 percent of social housing blocks in Britain have full sprinkler systems fitted in them. Zeyad said, “The state of social housing in Britain needs to be looked at as well—that set the scene for the fire.
“People need to be held accountable.”
Former Tory council leader Nick Paget-Brown claimed that residents had been given the choice between new bathrooms and kitchens or sprinklers and chose the former. No one living in council housing or anywhere else should be forced to make that choice.
The blame goes right to the top, to Tory government ministers, the government and a system that puts profits before people.