Socialist Worker

Tory council lied about safety spending in run-up to Grenfell Tower fire

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2657

The Grenfell Tower in west London

The Grenfell Tower in west London (Pic: Guy Smallman)

At least 72 people died because the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower was done on the cheap.

Kensington and Chelsea council previously said it could only use money raised through council rents for the refurbishment of the tower.

The Tory-run council claimed this meant it couldn’t afford the extra £300,000 it would have cost to put non-flammable cladding on the building.

But a new report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalists exposes this as a lie.

The council partially funded the refurbishment of the block by selling basement flats in the borough’s Elm Park Gardens.

That means the council could equally have used some of the £129 million it raised from selling council property in the years leading up to the atrocity.

Yet instead of using the money to make people safe, the council spent over £60 million buying up properties for development.

Labour MP David Lammy said, “These revelations show how Kensington and Chelsea council treated those living in Grenfell Tower with a combination of disdain and indifference in the years running up to the fire, despite repeated safety warnings and complaints from residents.”

The preferred contractor for the refurbishment, Leadbitter, submitted an estimate cost of £11.3 million for the refurbishment.

This was £1.6 million more than the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation’s estimate.

Because of this, the contract was put out for bids, and was awarded to construction firm Rydon. This involving a total of 383 firms in the refurbishment according to the police investigation into the fire.

Ordinary people paid with their lives in this race to the bottom.

Join the Silent Walk for Grenfell on 14 June and join the Solidarity March on 15 June

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