The Grenfell Tower fire occurred on 14 June 2017 at a 24-storey, high tower block of public housing flats in North Kensington, West London, England. The Metropolitan Police has said that 58 people are currently missing presumed dead, including 30 confirmed dead. The BBC says it understands that the number dead could be “around 70”.
The local community are raising £2,000,000 to Help the families of Grenfell Tower, West London who have been devastated by a fire which has destroyed their homes and taken loved ones. Please donate here
I’m joined by political activist, writer and Notting Hill sage Ishmahil Blagrove about where the community, London and the country go from here.
Grenfell Tower lies in the wealthiest locality in the country, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The average income is over £100,000 and the average property is sold for close to £2,000,000. David Cameron and Roman Abramovich both own a house there.
The residents of Grenfell Tower are mainly working-class and ethnic minority, living in the cheapest accommodation in the borough, provided through the borough’s council, which pays KCTMO public money to manage the building. Senior managers at KCTMO earned £650,000 between them last year.
The residents formed an association, the Grenfell Action Group “to record our struggle and… remain as evidence for future generations of how our community has been mistreated by RBKC [the borough’s council] and its social housing management agents the Kensington & Chelsea TMO (KCTMO).” The Group raised serious concerns about fire risk following near catastrophes at other KCTMO properties but were ignored, causing them to write “[we] firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders.” 90% of residents signed a petition for an investigation into KCTMO’s handling of safety concerns.
£10m was spent refurbishing Grenfell Tower from 2014-16, without addressing residents’ safety concerns or installing sprinklers. Instead, cladding was added to make the building look more attractive from the outside (presumably, to richer people who lived elsewhere in Kensington). Residents were told that the building was designed in such a way that a fire in one flat would not spread to others, and therefore advised to stay in their homes in case of a fire. This proved not to be the case, possibly because the cladding was flammable.