Socialist Worker

Government to decide Grenfell site fate

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2616

Marching for justice for Grenfell in west London

Marching for justice for Grenfell in west London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


The Tories have announced that central government will manage the site of the Grenfell Tower fire from autumn.

It came after residents reacted with outrage to proposals that would have seen Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea Council take back responsibility for it.

Police have finished their forensic investigation of the burnt-out tower block in west London, meaning the site’s future can now be planned.

Since the fire, which claimed at least 72 lives, survivors and residents have made clear the council should have nothing to do with the future of the site.

Decisions made by the council were responsible for creating the conditions that led to the murder at Grenfell.

Grenfell survivor Antonio Roncolato argued that questions remained to be answered. “Why was giving it to the council even considered?” he told Socialist Worker.

“Many of us consider the council to be directly responsible for the fire.

“Residents and survivors have been promised we will be involved in the decision.”

The Tories’ U-turn shows that they are vulnerable to pressure from survivor and justice campaigners.

But the Tories in central government, as well as those at Kensington and Chelsea council, have blood on their hands.

Antonio argued that management of the tower “needs to go to a neutral body”.

Removing

Theresa May and housing and local government ministers have repeatedly stood in the way of justice after the fire. They have dragged their feet over removing flammable cladding from other

council and housing association tower blocks.

A £400 million fund has been made available for the work, but that’s nowhere near enough for what needs to be done.

And some 300 private sector high rise blocks are covered in flammable cladding.

The firms that built the blocks should be forced to fund its removal.

A spokesperson for the local government ministry said “there is a moral imperative for private sector landlords to foot the bill for removing unsafe cladding”. But the Tories are looking at ways to pass the costs of removing cladding on to leaseholders in private blocks.

The latest scheme is to get mortgage providers to lend money to leaseholders to fund cladding removal.

All this is hardly surprising from the Tory government that tore up building and safety regulations.

And it emerged last week that they ignored specific warnings about the type of cladding found on Grenfell Tower.

Minutes of a July 2014 meeting show that government officials were warned guidance was “not clear” over the use of the cladding.

The Building Research Establishment said it would draft guidance outlawing the material but failed to do so.

Grenfell survivor Edward Daffarn said, “The more we learn about what happened before Grenfell the more we believe 72 people would be alive if those in power had done their basic duty.”


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