Socialist Worker

Marchers demand justice for Grenfell victims nine months after the blaze

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2596

Marching from Kensington town hall to the remains of Grenfell

Marching from Kensington town hall to the remains of Grenfell (Pic: Socialist Worker)


People marched and rallied in Bristol, Liverpool and London on Wednesday night to demand justice for the people who died in the Grenfell Tower fire. 

The events mark nine months to the day since the fire ripped through the west London tower block last June. 

A march was also held in Manchester last month and could happen again in coming months.

In west London up to 1,000 people marched from Kensington town hall to the remains of Grenfell Tower. Simy told Socialist Worker, “It's been amazing to see solidarity in Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol.”

Anne Singleton, a striking Bristol university lecturer, told the Bristol Post newspaper, “Social justice is sadly lacking in this country at the moment. Grenfell epitomises the uncaring neoliberal policies of this government. 

“There’s a housing crisis— and Grenfell is the worst example of that.”

The march came as parliamentary authorities gave the go-ahead for MPs to debate a petition demanding a diverse panel of advisers be appointed on the inquiry. The debate is set to happen on 14 May.

It also came days after the United Nations special rapporteur for housing raised the possibility that Grenfell residents' human rights were violated. 

It should not take a catastrophic fire to raise concerns about the condition of housing.

Safe 

"We need to make sure that every single person living in social housing can feel safe in their homes again,” said one speaker on the London march.

Some 300 public buildings have failed the government's fire safety tests in the wake of the fire. And, however bad the situation is in social housing, it is worse in private housing.

Marion, who was on the London march, told Socialist Worker, "One of my friends lives in a block overlooking Grenfell Tower.

“They haven't slept through the night in nine months."

There are thousands of stories like this.

Earlier on Wednesday Labour MP for Kensington and Chelsea Emma Dent-Coad slammed the Tories' inaction in an article on the LabourList website. "Some days it feels like this onslaught of incompetence, disdain and misrepresentation is deliberate and orchestrated. Some days we know it is," she wrote. 

"They’re trying to grind us down."

Dent-Coad was proved right this week. News emerged that Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea council has been failing to respond to freedom of information requests relating to the fire and its causes. 

The information commissioner has warned the council could be taken to the high court if it does not respond to seven requests this month.

Marion said, “We need a national demonstration on the anniversary of the fire.” 

A national demonstration could tap into the deep anger that people across Britain feel about the fire—and the Tories’ lack of action over it.


Grenfell council shells out on legal fees to cover itself

Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea council is more worried about covering its back over the Grenfell Tower fire than seeing those responsible held to account.

The council leadership was set to debate a motion on Thursday to increase legal fees relating to the fire last June to £5 million.

The council has already spent almost £2 million on legal fees in relation to the fire.

The cost of the fallout from the Grenfell Tower fire keeps increasing. The council has spent £21 million on bills to hotels housing people displaced by the fire.

The Tory government should be paying those costs—and in the nine months since the fire it could have spent that money on building new flats.

The cost of the 2014 refurbishment work, including the cladding that contributed to the spread of the fire, was £10 million.

Between 2011 and 2012 fire doors were installed.

Those doors were meant to hold back fire for 30 minutes—they held it back for just 15 minutes in Met Police tests.

Manse Masterdor, the firm that produced the doors, has since shut down. Synseal has since taken over its business and says it had no involvement in installing the doors.


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