Socialist Worker

More people died in Grenfell Tower fire than the Tories will admit

New figures suggest that some 99 people died in the Grenfell Tower fire—and Kensington and Chelsea council is still dragging its feet on rehousing survivors, says Alistair Farrow

Issue No. 2580

Another 31 people have been confirmed as missing by friends and relatives

Another 31 people have been confirmed as missing by friends and relatives (Pic: Guy Smallman)


At least 99 people died in the Grenfell Tower fire in west London in June.

The Justice4Grenfell campaign released the figure after talking to survivors and relatives of the missing and the dead. It is higher than the official estimate of “at least 80”.

So far 68 names have been made public and of these 15 were children.

Another 31 people have been confirmed as missing by friends and relatives, but their names have not been released publicly.

Moyra Samuels from the Justice4Grenfell campaign told Socialist Worker, “Thirty one people have been identified but not named because families don’t want them publicly named.

“We now need to go through floor by floor and match people up.

“In some cases we’re not going to get bodies because the fire was so fierce. Some people sublet their flats and are too frightened to say that people died there.”

And a series of studies over the past week have significance for the fallout from Grenfell.

The shocking inequality in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea formed the backdrop for the Grenfell Tower fire. That’s the finding of a report compiled by Emma Dent Coad, Labour MP for North Kensington.

Differences in life expectancy between some wards in the borough can be as much as 20 years says the new report.

The council continues to drag its feet over rehousing people. In the south of the borough the abandoned Sutton Estate has enough homes to rehouse everyone displaced by Grenfell.

“We’re five months on, the council could have done up the estate in five weeks,” said Moyra. “People could be living there now.

“And if people didn’t want to move there they could have done swaps with other council tenants.”

The Grenfell Tower fire and the anger that refuses to fade
The Grenfell Tower fire and the anger that refuses to fade
  Read More

Dent Coed’s report came as Jeremy Corbyn launched a Labour Party campaign to put pressure on the Tories to fit sprinkler systems in high rise tower blocks.

He said this could “make a vital difference to people’s safety”.

A petition has been released calling on the Tories to put aside £1 billion for retro-fitting sprinklers.

The London Fire Brigade (LFB) submitted evidence to a review into building regulation and fire safety being carried out by Dame Judith Hackitt. The LFB called for fire brigade involvement at the earliest possible stage in building planning.

It also called for formal qualifications for people installing fire detection and alarm units.

“It took a tragedy for everyone to take fire safety seriously and listen to what the brigade has been saying for years about skills,” said assistant commissioner for fire safety Dan Daly.

That echoes the warning issued by the Grenfell Action Group before the fire broke out.

And another study, Closing the Gaps—Health and Safety in Housing, has found that 85 percent of housing “experts” think current housing law is not fit for purpose.

To sign the petition for retro-fitting sprinklers in high rise block go to bit.ly/2zA0KpD

London mayor eyes up prison site

Campaigners in Islington, north London, have pressured London mayor Sadiq Khan to back calls for the Holloway Prison site to be used for housing.

But Khan isn’t supporting calls for council housing. He is instead focusing on “affordable” housing—which can cost as much as 80 percent of market rent.

“Holloway Prison is a major site capable of delivering a large number of new and affordable homes for Londoners,” said Khan in a statement.

Khan’s housing adviser at City Hall was Islington’s lead councillor for housing. The connection may have had something to do with the statement.

The Holloway Prison site is ten acres and hundreds of homes could be built on it.

But the Ministry of Justice owns the site and would prefer to sell it to private developers to fund new “super prisons” outside London.


Campaigners take on Tory budget

Housing campaigners are gearing up for a day of action on the day of the Tory budget—22 November.

It will include a protest at the Homes 2017 landlords conference and the release of Homes for All campaign’s Autumn Statement.

The day will close with a meeting in Parliament at 6.30pm which tenants, campaigners and members of the shadow cabinet are set to speak at.

Come to the National Housing Summit, Sat 25 November, 11am - 5pm, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place, London WC1H 9BD


Homelessness is on the rise

The number of homeless people in Britain—307,000—outnumbers the population of Newcastle, a shocking new report shows.

The total is up 13,000 on last year.

The report, carried out by charity Shelter, includes rough sleepers and people in temporary accommodation.

Last year an overnight count found the number of rough sleepers had risen by 134 percent since the Tories took office.

The borough of Newham in east London has the highest rates—one in 25 people are homeless.


Council to take back estate?

Tenants, residents and campaigners in Hammersmith, west London, are hoping for a victory over developers.

Property developer Capco wanted to take over West Ken and Gibbs Green estates.

But if Capco’s plans for another site are approved they will back off—and the council say they will take over control.

One resident said, “It’s not a guarantee but it’s a loud announcement that it’s looking good.

“It’s been a David and Goliath thing but you can win if you kick them in the knee caps.”


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