Socialist Worker

The Troublemaker - Did selling off fire safety training worsen Grenfell Tower disaster?

Issue No. 2610

Firefighters joined events to mark the one-year anniversary of the fire

Firefighters joined events to mark the one-year anniversary of the fire (Pic: Guy Smallman)

In 2012 the London Fire Brigade (LFB) outsourced its training to Babcock International.

Guidelines for training over fire evacuation procedures were issued in 2014, as a direct result of an inquest into the Lakanal House fire.

The coroner who carried out the inquest wrote to the Department of Communities and Local Government in 2014, “Not all high-rise residential buildings are designed or have been maintained to have a ‘stay-put’ policy in place.”

There is no evidence yet that this was implemented by Babcock International. One “expert” witness to the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry noted in their submission that the order to evacuate the tower did not come until 2.47am.


The compartmentation, which is supposed to restrict the spread of fire and which the “stay put” policy is based on, had begun to fail at 1.15am.

The expert argued that evacuation should have begun earlier.

The Lakanal coroner also advised that sprinklers should be retro-fitted into older tower blocks. The Tories ignored that.

Lawyers representing survivors of the fire and the bereaved said, “No one from the LFB commissioner down appears to have trained or planned for this type of fire.

“This strongly suggests that Babcock did not properly place the issue on the training curriculum, but we are yet to see the training materials.”

The FBU and other unions warned about the consequences of training privatisation in 2011.

“The rushed drive to push through these privatisations will put Londoner safety in jeopardy”, said a statement at the time.

They were tragically proved right.

Chope tried to kill off a private members’ bill outlawing upskirting by calling, “Object”.

One of his own bills came before a Whitehall adviser last week. She took delight in writing in large block capitals, “OBJECT!”

  • Serco has repaid the Tories over £4 million for its failures in managing jails since April 2010.

The figues came days after Tory MP Edward Argar, who was a Serco fat cat until 2014, was appointed as a justice minister.

Tory tax cut handed £11 billion to the rich

A Tory tax cut for millionaires has handed £11 billion to the rich, according to the Unison union.

Former chancellor George Osborne cut the top rate of income tax six years ago.

It meant people “earning” a million a year would pay 45p for every pound instead of 50p.

Unison said the money this gave the rich could have paid for 30,000 nurses and 20,000 teachers every year for five years.

And because it costed in funding 15,000 more cops and 10,000 more police support officers, the real number of nurses and teachers is even higher.

  • The Child Poverty Action Group says a quarter of children in Dundee live in poverty.

And teachers often give children food at school because they haven’t eaten any breakfast.

Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir happily seized on the figures to attack parents.

“If children are coming to school without breakfast, then that is child neglect, it is not child poverty,” she railed.

Sun’s shock at upskirting is rank hypocrisy

The Sun newspaper last week railed against “perverts” taking upskirting images and videos.

A “Sun probe” found dozens of people uploading images to social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

The paper was praised by Theresa May for its investigative efforts.

“The images uncovered by The Sun are deeply disturbing and underline why strong action is so important,” she said.

Of course the Sun didn’t need to trawl other sites to find the images. It could have just looked through a few back issues.

The Sun is quite keen to publicise women “flashing their knickers”.

Of course they aren’t “flashing” anything—just sitting down or getting out of cars.

But that doesn’t stop photographers taking pictures up their skirts—or the Sun from publishing them.

Loadsa room—if you’re a royal

The royals are getting a £24 million two-storey basement at Kensington Palace—despite it breaking the rules.

Local planning law bans two-storey basements in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

But the council approved the Palace expansion, claiming it will be of “economic benefit” to the nation.

In the same borough, some victims of the Grenfell Tower fire remain homeless and in temporary accommodation one year on.

But at least prince William and Kate will have even more room to hoard their wealth and possessions.

The things they say

‘I will lie down with you in front of bulldozers and stop the contruction of that third runway’

Tory foreign secretary Boris Johnson to shadow chancellor John McDonnell in 2015

‘You can’t rely on a word he says’

Unnamed Tory on Johnson’s absence from a vote on the runway in parliament this week

‘I really don’t care, do u?’

The message on Melania Trump’s coat—as she visited child migrants caged in the US

‘I’d like to ask how I can help these children reunite with their families’

Melania to shelter workers. Perhaps stop separating them in the first place?

‘We might have to celebrate with water’

Ross Clark in the Daily Mail on how to celebrate an England World Cup victory with a lack of CO2 for beer

‘While the Germans drown their sorrows with lager’

The nightmare continues for Clark

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