Smothered by regeneration: the Grenfell Tower fire

Grenfell Tower fire

Tenants at Grenfell Tower repeatedly warned the council and its management organisation about fire safety risks before a deadly blaze engulfed the 24-storey residential tower block.

£10m of external cladding had been fitted to the tower block last year as part of a regeneration scheme for the estate. Residents said the external cladding was fitted to make the block more aesthetically pleasing for residents of luxury developments nearby, while lifts in neighbouring blocks had been left broken for years despite costing approximately £60,000 to repair.

Analysis of the fire spread and the design for the regeneration scheme suggests the cladding may have accelerated the spread of the fire by allowing it to travel around the outside of the block between sections that were supposed to be isolated for fire safety before the cladding was fitted. Similar cladding has been implicated in large tower block fires in Melbourne and Dubai.

This followed previous warnings from tenants about fire safety dating back to at least 2013, which they say were repeatedly dismissedby Kensington and Chelsea council, which owns the tower, and the local tenant management organisation [KCTMO], which manages the property.

Residents had fought the council, TMO and contractor Rydon's over the implementation of the regeneration project, raising concerns both in advance of the project and while it was completed.

In a blog posted in 2016, the Grenfell Action Group said: "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."

In 2013, Kensington and Chelsea council's legal department sent the owner of a blog a letter telling them to remove "direct accusations of unfounded criminal actions".

Residents had an emergency public meeting in March 2015 to organise a response to intimidation and lack of consultation over the regeneration work:

Quote:
WE ARE MEETING TO DISCUSS THE LACK OF CONSULTATION FROM THE TMO/RYDON’S REGARDING THE GRENFELL TOWER IMPROVEMENT WORKS AND TO DECIDE HOW WE CAN UNITE AS A COMMUNITY TO ENSURE THAT WE ARE TREATED WITH RESPECT AND THAT THE TMO/RYDON’S CARRY OUT THE INTERNAL WORKS TO OUR HOMES IN A PROFESSIONAL MANNER AND TO A HIGH STANDARD.

In 2013, a series of power surges led residents to collectively descend on the estate office to demand emergency work. Shah Ahmed, Chair of the Grenfell Tower Leaseholders Association, wrote to Robert Black TMO and various RBKC councillors and TMO officers at the time:

Quote:
There have been two weeks of power surges in the building, most notably in the early hours of the morning and throughout the evening and night time. Electronic apparatus are seriously affected by these surges. Computers are turned on and off, lights continually flicker becoming very dim and extremely bright in the space of a few seconds.

On 11th May 2013 at 9:05pm we had numerous power surges in the space of a minute, and in that process my computer and monitor literally exploded with smoke seeping out from the back and the smell of burnt electronics filled our entire computer. My monitor also fused at the same time. When I called the TMO out of hours service the standard textbook response was given to us that I was the first one to report such a problem and I was made to feel like a fool reporting such an issue, which resulted in years of data being lost forever.

Please note if the power surges continue at Grenfell Tower, it would be very dangerous and costly because it is interfering with electric and electronic items in the household, including the telephone line, television, fridge, washing machine, computer etc”.

This year, Southwark Council pleaded guilty to four counts of breaking fire safety regulations over a blaze in a 14-storey tower block that killed six people at Lakanal House in 2009.

Basil Street fire station in Knightsbridge and Greycoat Place fire station in Westminster were both closed as part of a series of fire station closures in 2014.

Six deaths had been confirmed by 11:40 am on Wednesday with police saying the death toll is expected to rise.

In January 2016, parliament voted down legislation requiring privately rented housing to be fit for human habitation.

The current police and fire minister Nick Hurd - himself a landlord - was one of those who voted against the measure. The then local government minister Marcus Jones said it "would result in unnecessary regulation and cost to landlords".

For social housing, The Mirror is reporting that former housing minister Gavin Barwell - Prime Minister May's new Chief of Staff - "sat on" a report warning that tower blocks like Grenfell were at risk of fire.

Update 12:10pm June 15th 2017
24 hours after the start of the fire, Grenfell Tower was still burning internally across eleven floors with more than seventeen people confirmed dead and over one hundred residents still unaccounted for.

The community response to the fire has been overwhelming. People have been traveling to the area from all over London with donations, filling community centres to capacity with food, water, hygiene products and clothes. Displays of social solidarity like this are common after disasters. Disaster communities develop both due to the absence of intervention by the state beyond "keeping order" as has been seen most brutally in large scale disasters like Hurricane Katrina, as well as the tendency of people towards self-organisation when faced with horrific loss of life and displacement.

Residents in another (unnamed) dilapidated tower block had called an emergency mass meeting and organised a night watch last night.

Tragedies like the Grenfell Tower are not 'accidents' nor 'natural disasters' but the all to frequent consequence of property relations and their enforcement, whether the social cleansing of public housing in London or the public subsidy of 'regenerating' housing by cladding it in a fire hazard primarily to increase its visual appeal to wealthy neighbours.

While we must ruthlessly analyse the political and economic causes of the fire, we must also unhesitatingly politicise the response.

A demonstration has been called for 6pm tomorrow at the Department for Communities and Local Government, 2 Marsham Street, SW1P 4DF.

In addition to the immediate mobilisation, there must be a concerted campaign to permanently rehouse the residents of Grenfell Tower who have survived the fire. There has been a decade of estate demolitions in London resulting in new housing far beyond the means of the original occupants, and there is no indication that Kensington and Chelsea council will do anything different in this case.

Residents groups and solidarity networks should be strengthened and linked together so that the repeated warnings and resistance to the negligent maintenance of blocks like Grenfell Tower can be successfully resisted. These are not hypothetical issues for the future but real potential disasters latent in housing across the UK and internationally now.

Comments

Rob Ray
Jun 14 2017 14:44

A few bundled notes I did earlier:...

About Kensington and Chelsa Tenant Management Organisation

Founded 1996, manages 9,760 properties in borough – the only one of its size in Britain. It's essentially supposed to be a tenant-controlled asset management company with council input, but the council still owns the land/flats. This is reflected in the board structure:

8 tenants
4 councillors
3 appointed

Approx 190 staff

As with any project of this size though there seems to be a largely unaccountable bureaucracy actually in charge, who are raking in the cash and are widely disliked/mistrusted.

Edit: The TMO website is back up, so from the November minutes...

Tenants on the board:
Fay Edwards (Chair)
Alan Barnett
Mary Benjamin
Anne Duru
Maria Escudero-Barbaza
Minna Korjonen
Sharon Price
Derek White

Council nominees:
Cllr Judith Blakeman
Paula Fance
Cllr Maighread Condon-Simmonds

Appointed:
Simon Brissenden
Anthony Preiskel
Peter Molyneux

Key people:

Chief Exec: Robert Black, paid £140,000 per annum (hired 2009 after a massive spat which saw a near rebellion from tenants over how the TMO was being run). If this comment is right, his wages have soared from 114,000 when he was first hired, despite heavy criticisms throughout his tenure.

Director of assets and regeneration: Peter Maddison, who's been the subject of repeated complaints over his attitude towards tenants' right to know what's going on in their TMO.

Executive Director of Financial Services: Barbara Matthews
Executive Director of People and Performance: Yvonne Birch
Executive Director of Operations: Sacha Jevans
Assist. Director for Financial Services: Rupa Bhola
Executive Manager (Minutes): Gill Petford
Interim Company Secretary (Designate): Truda Scriven
Comms chief: Pete Griffiths

According to the Daily Mail Black, Matthews, Birch and Jevans are the four most senior members at KCTMO and earned £650,000 between them last year.

Messy since 2009

According to this article the government cut funding to the TMO after 2009, and exactly what's happening with cash has been unclear even to tenants throughout. A major £9.7m repairs project (joint between the council and TMO) was announced in 2013 but FoI requests about how that cash was being spent made in 2014 were stonewalled. Around £1m was spent on surveys alone and interestingly, this was the council blurb on it, no mention of fire safety works at all:

Quote:
The large scale works will include an upgrade of the cladding to the exterior of the building, new windows and a totally new heating system, all of which will greatly enhance the energy efficiency of the tower and contribute to reducing residents’ living costs. Additionally, unused spaces will be redeveloped to increase the number of residential units on the estate and both the community boxing club and nursery will be upgraded.

The November 2012 fire assessment is here. It warned of weak fire safety measures and alleged negligence going back to 2004. Same blog — residents publicly warned about fire safety issues and councillors responded.

Tory councillors declared they were "well aware" of what was going on at Grenfell and were publicly confronted about problems by residents at a council meeting in 2015.

Apart from Grenfell Action Group, http://fromthehornetsnest.blogspot.co.uk has some good backstory on this, they're clearly well informed.

Rob Ray
Jun 14 2017 14:53

Dump of relevant stuff from the Nov 2016 minutes..

Grenfell Tower refurbishment – close liaison with LFB and Fire Risk Assessor throughout the duration of the project. At the conclusion of the work some of the operational firefighters from the local Fire Station attended an onsite briefing where the contractor demonstrated the fire safety features of the building.

There is ongoing work with LFB to ensure remaining high rise blocks are prioritised for familiarisation visits and where possible Home Fire Safety Visits are offered.

We have provided a range of ongoing publicity to residents, particularly in relation to:
- The “stay put” fire strategy and procedures residents should follow in event of a fire in their flat or elsewhere in their block, and;
- Informing leaseholders about the fire safety standards required of their flat entrance doors (existing and any planned replacement)

Further progress has been made with the installation programme of hard-wired automatic smoke alarms in tenanted dwellings.

Currently preparing bids for submission to the LFB for funding from their Community Safety Initiative. The aim of this fund is to target those most vulnerable to fire and identify effective strategies for reducing this risk. These bids are to be submitted by mid-October and in consultation with RBKC it is our intention to submit bids for the following:

- A telecare overlay system at a sheltered housing clubroom, and;
- Installation of external storage and charging stations for mobility scooters at three of our sheltered Housing schemes.

Health and Safety Policies reviewed in this period included Gas Safety, Water Quality and Asbestos Management and work is ongoing to review the Fire Safety Policy and Strategy.

A suite of Health & Safety Key Performance Indicators has also been produced and these are monitored by the Health & Safety Committee at their quarterly meetings.

KCTMO has introduced an on-line display screen self-assessment package for all staff. This module includes training on safe use of the workstation and is available to all staff.

10.0 KCTMO FIRE POLICY & STRATEGY
10.1 This policy is currently being reviewed following detailed discussions with the TMO’s Health and Safety Committee. In particular, the main proposed changes include:
- The need to adopt a more proactive approach to the installation of self- closing devices to flat entrance doors across the stock (recommendation is for an installation programme over several years);
- Increasing the frequency of the comprehensive Fire Risk Assessment reviews;
- Programme of installation of Fire Action Notices in the communal entrance lobbies of all blocks;
- Further work to address the issue of storage and charging of mobility scooters within communal areas;
- A more coordinated approach with the various agencies involved with hoarders – adopt a clear procedure involving an assessment by our Fire Consultant;
- Clarity on the requirements of a communal storage “managed use” policy - what is and what is not acceptable.
The redrafted document will be submitted to the next Health and Safety Committee and will include indicative costings of the proposals. Any proposed changes to the policy will require approval from the Board and RBKC.

11.0 LFB DEFICIENCY NOTICE RECEIVED
11.1 If, whilst undertaking their audit, the LFB consider there are deficiencies which require our attention which are not significant enough to warrant an Enforcement Notice, they will issue a Deficiency Notice. These documents have no legal standing but the LFB do include a timeframe within which they expect landlords to comply and in the event of non-compliance there is the possibility that these could be escalated and an Enforcement Notice served. We have recently received a Deficiency Notice in relation to the LFB’s audit of Lonsdale House, Portobello Court Estate, several months ago. The issue raised relates to flat entrance doors and the requirement for us to undertaken regular inspection of self-closing devices on these doors. The tenants’ doors at this block were replaced with fully fire-rated, self-closing compliant doorsets within the last four years and so we are surprised to have received this Notice. Discussions with the LFB’s Fire Safety Team are ongoing in relation to these specific requirements.

Khawaga
Jun 14 2017 14:58

This is so infuriating because it was so fucking avoidable. Such a clear example of profits over people.

Rob Ray
Jun 14 2017 15:13

Other useful tidbits pointing to the low resident engagement KCTMO works under:

9,750 homes (so upwards of 20,000 people in the TMO's aegis?)
4,500 people eligible for a vote in elections, of which in 2009 22% did so (a little under 1,000)
Around 450 people show up to any given AGM

Steven.
Jun 14 2017 22:15

This is a great write-up; such a tragic story.

I heard from a colleague at work that two of the nearest three fire stations were shut down in the recent cuts. Is that correct? If so that's pretty scandalous (on a sub editing note, would be great if someone could geo-tag the building)

Jim
Jun 15 2017 10:52

Now 17 confirmed dead with people expecting the final death toll to be 100+.

There's going to be a protest tomorrow - https://www.facebook.com/events/622169744656241/

Red Marriott
Jun 15 2017 11:59
article wrote:
In January 2016, parliament voted down legislation requiring privately rented housing to be fit for human habitation.
The current police and fire minister Nick Hurd - himself a landlord - was one of those who voted against the measure. The then local government minister Marcus Jones said it "would result in unnecessary regulation and cost to landlords".

The Tory vote against that Bill does show their priorities and contempt for tenants and has been cited as evidence all over the Net & social media as evidence of guilt on the part of the Tory government. But the Bill itself was actually aimed at private landlords, not social landlords like the KCTMO - see;
http://www.landlordzone.co.uk/downloads/homes-fit-for-habitation-bill.pdf

Grenfell apparently wasn't wholly social housing tenants but contained some right-to-buy-leaseholders (or those who rented from leaseholders at market rates). But tenant participation within social housing (Tenants Associations etc) is a mixed bag with representation often playing a mediating role with similarities to trade unionism; widespread tenant apathy towards such bodies with a minority mix of well-intentioned tenants seeking improvement alongside busybodies and egotripper know-it-alls and some wannabe tenant careerists who get co-opted into official positions via favouritism and flattery from those in power.

In the worst cases it descends into outright war between residents & landlord. We can see from the Grenfell Action Grp blog a typical social housing story of mainly lower-income residents fighting a largely arrogant uncaring bureaucracy led by scumbag directors on six-figure salaries who live in wealthy property with massive pension pots accumulating (while often imposing wage freezes on their frontline staff). It's sickly ironic that KCTMO has been paraded as a model for TMOs;

Quote:
A TMO allows tenants and leaseholders to take on responsibility for housing management. Resident members create an independent legal body and elect a committee to run the organisation, which is paid a management and maintenance allowance by the social landlord.

One high-performing TMO is also England's largest, Kensington and Chelsea, managing 10,000 homes. Its chair, Juliet Rawlings, says getting involved in managing your own housing is hard work but brings huge rewards. "When we set up the TMO, it took away a lot of the bureaucracy, it gave us ownership of our properties and we felt more involved," she says.
https://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/sep/23/tenant-management-organisations-housing

Ed
Jun 15 2017 12:05

I reckon it will be an utter miracle if the death toll stays below 100.

Rob Ray
Jun 15 2017 14:03

So for a basic timeline (feel free to add stuff to build it up):

1996: KCTMO founded
1997: Labour elected
2002: KCTMO becomes one of the first of new Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO)
2004: Fire safety begins to be neglected (according to 2012 fire service report)
2009: Amidst tenant disquiet over the way the TMO's being managed, Robert Black is hired as new chief exec promising to preside over a "culture of change" and saying he will listen to tenants. Over the next eight years allowances and senior salaries are increased significantly, his own wage rises by 36%.
2009: Labour cuts central government funding
2009: Lakanal House fire
2010: Tories elected, begin period of austerity cutting fire services and council funding
2011: K&C Council one of richest boroughs in Britain, sitting on £170m cash pot
2011: Grenfell Tower Leaseholder’s Association pitches for major improvements, especially to insulation which is "1/3 of all service costs at Grenfell" and for fixes to the "dangerous heating system."
2012: Fire Brigade warns Grenfell is unsafe
2013: Tenants complain that Grenfell is a fire trap
August 2013: A £9.7m joint council/TMO refurbishment announced – without fire safety improvements but with insulation-related works, including windows and cladding (which turns out to be flammable).
2014: Grenfell tenants stonewalled on how refurb money is being disbursed
2014: Grenfell Action Group lodges formal complaint over lack of consultation over homes modernisation
2014: Two local fire stations close
2015: Residents confront council meeting and are told councillors are "well aware" of refurb problems
2016: Grenfell Action Group warns catastrophic fire likely
Nov 2016: TMO says fire safety "publicity" has been handed out at Grenfell and "progress has been made with the installation programme of hard-wired automatic smoke alarms in tenanted dwellings."Bid was being prepared for funding from Fire Brigade's Community Safety Initiative.
2017: Catastrophic fire at Grenfell, unknown death toll

Steven.
Jun 15 2017 22:07
Rob Ray wrote:
So for a basic timeline (feel free to add stuff to build it up):

1996: KCTMO founded
1997: Labour elected
2002: KCTMO becomes one of the first of new Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO)
2004: Fire safety begins to be neglected (according to 2012 fire service report)
2009: Amidst tenant disquiet over the way the TMO's being managed, Robert Black is hired as new chief exec promising to preside over a "culture of change" and saying he will listen to tenants. Over the next eight years allowances and senior salaries are increased significantly, his own wage rises by 36%.
2009: Labour cuts central government funding
2009: Lakanal House fire
2010: Tories elected, begin period of austerity cutting fire services and council funding
2011: K&C Council one of richest boroughs in Britain, sitting on £170m cash pot
2011: Grenfell Tower Leaseholder’s Association pitches for major improvements, especially to insulation which is "1/3 of all service costs at Grenfell" and for fixes to the "dangerous heating system."
2012: Fire Brigade warns Grenfell is unsafe
2013: Tenants complain that Grenfell is a fire trap
August 2013: A £9.7m joint council/TMO refurbishment announced – without fire safety improvements but with insulation-related works, including windows and cladding (which turns out to be flammable).
2014: Grenfell tenants stonewalled on how refurb money is being disbursed
2014: Grenfell Action Group lodges formal complaint over lack of consultation over homes modernisation
2014: Two local fire stations close
2015: Residents confront council meeting and are told councillors are "well aware" of refurb problems
2016: Grenfell Action Group warns catastrophic fire likely
Nov 2016: TMO says fire safety "publicity" has been handed out at Grenfell and "progress has been made with the installation programme of hard-wired automatic smoke alarms in tenanted dwellings."Bid was being prepared for funding from Fire Brigade's Community Safety Initiative.
2017: Catastrophic fire at Grenfell, unknown death toll

this is really good. TBH I think that would make a good standalone news post if you wanted to post it

Serge Forward
Jun 15 2017 23:46

What's with the fashion for cladding these days? Is it so the local posh people don't have to look at decrepit concrete brutalist architecture in their neighbourhood? I used to live in a 1970s tower block (pre-cladding days) which had the occasional fire - one at least was severe enough for a neighbour to jump to his death. The fires though were contained and never spread to other flats.

bastarx
Jun 16 2017 01:33
Serge Forward wrote:
What's with the fashion for cladding these days? Is it so the local posh people don't have to look at decrepit concrete brutalist architecture in their neighbourhood? I used to live in a 1970s tower block (pre-cladding days) which had the occasional fire - one at least was severe enough for a neighbour to jump to his death. The fires though were contained and never spread to other flats.

I think in the case of Grenfell yes. In a similar fortunately fatality free fire in Melbourne in 2014 no, it was a three year old private building.

The Guardian has picked up the connection: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/15/cladding-in-2014-melbourne-high-rise-blaze-also-used-in-grenfell-tower

If you google Lacrosse Building Fire you'll see a link to the official report to the Melbourne fire on the first page of results.

In most (or all?) states of Australia government building certifiers have been replaced with private certifiers who are paid by the builder. The corruption built into a system where the ongoing income of the certifier depends on continued engagement by builders isn't hard to see. The certifiers are theoretically legally liable if they certify an unfit building but presumably like the rest of the building industry they escape liability by a rapid turnover of corporations.

A friend of mine bought an apartment in Melbourne in 2010 and shortly after moving in the body corporate required each owner to find an extra $9000 for a sprinkler system as the building didn't have an adequate fire escape. The council had apparently been pushing the issue for years yet the building had been certified fit for occupancy.

Rob Ray
Jun 16 2017 03:37
Quote:
What's with the fashion for cladding these days?

The original idea seems to have been partly insulation-related, partly for the look of the thing and partly cost.

Someone was saying on Urban75 that with those '70s towers you only have two options if you want to improve on the abysmal heat retention/cut energy costs with insulation, one being to make people's flats smaller (unpopular), the other being to put up cladding and insulate on the outside of the building. Of course sensible building regs would demand that the cladding be fire retardant, but that's more expensive (not much though)

fingers malone
Jun 16 2017 06:31

The people in the top of the building, if they didn't realise and escape very early on, they had no chance. Fire alarms in flats didn't go off in time, they are only for detecting smoke inside the flat, by the time smoke was reaching inside the flats it was too late. There was no alarm system for alerting the whole building. People got woken up by the fire engine sirens or by their neighbours hammering on their doors to wake them. There were elderly and disabled people who had been housed right on the top floors.The fire escape staircase was full of smoke and was dark. People were tripping over dead people on the way down.

The Daily Mail are going after the tenant of the flat where the fire started. Probably to divert attention away from (their mates?) the developers, also because he is African.

This disaster is caused by factors outside the tenants' control, in tower blocks we are lectured to 'check your smoke alarm' and we are assumed to have individual responsibility and agency to avoid death by fire by being sensible and following the rules. Which in this case were to 'stay put' and await instructions from the fire brigade. But the fire brigade were only able to reach people up to the 12th floor. The powerlessness of the people in this situation is really affecting me. The tenants hadn't been passive at all, there was a Grenfell Action Group, they had been campaigning against the cladding, which news reports now are saying was probably responsible, and for better fire safety measures.

Khawaga
Jun 16 2017 14:19
Quote:
Fire alarms in flats didn't go off in time, they are only for detecting smoke inside the flat, by the time smoke was reaching inside the flats it was too late. There was no alarm system for alerting the whole building.

What the fuck? In the slumlord kept tiny 6-apartment building I recently moved out of had a fucking alarm system for alerting the whole building which wasn't even needed because the walls were so thin that if the smoke detector went off in any apartment, the entire building would hear it. And the fucking fire department would come at least once per year to check that all worked. This is in Canada, though.

The more I read about this, the more and more shocking it becomes. I am usually pretty cynical about these things, but this has really gotten to me.

Fleur
Jun 16 2017 14:30

tbh, although this is far from the land of milk and honey that a lot of liberals seem to think it is, we have much better tenants rights here in Canada (Quebec especially so) than in the UK.

I'm finding the Grenfell Tower fire so distressing I don't even thing I've touched upon the amount of anger which I'm sitting on yet.

Noah Fence
Jun 16 2017 15:21
Quote:
I'm finding the Grenfell Tower fire so distressing I don't even thing I've touched upon the amount of anger which I'm sitting on yet.

I work in the area and the thought of the multi millionaire clients I work with having meetings with their designers and architects about the level of sheen of the wood I'm polishing makes me want to put a bullet in their fucking heads.

Red Marriott
Jun 16 2017 19:04
bastarx wrote:
In most (or all?) states of Australia government building certifiers have been replaced with private certifiers who are paid by the builder. The corruption built into a system where the ongoing income of the certifier depends on continued engagement by builders isn't hard to see.

Building inspection is also partially privatised in UK since the 1990s - so private firms work in competition with Local Authority inspectors to be employed by the builder. LAs are overworked & understaffed so often slower - private firms offer faster service for higher price and probably sometimes a nod and wink to turning a blind eye so that when corners are cut they stay cut. Which sets em up nicely as 'reliable' for the next contract.

A description of contracting relation at Grenfell; https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/15/long-builder-chain-for-grenfell-a-safety-and-accountability-issue

fingers malone
Jun 17 2017 08:46

Local people occupied Kensington town hall and after being chucked out held roving protests in the area all evening. People were speaking about their grief and their loss but also, very clearly, about why the fire happened, about the unsafe cladding materials chosen because they were £5000 cheaper, about why the gas pipes were not fire proofed, about how they feel that their lives and their community were devalued because they are poor.
By the way because the residents had the effrontery to protest after members of their own families were burned alive, a lot of the great British public are writing 'sympathy withdrawn' 'rehouse them in their own bloody countries' 'there are no white people left in London anymore' 'learn to use electrical equipment before you come here'. The sympathy the press were all loudly displaying a couple of days ago clearly hasn't survived their readership discovering that the people they had at first felt sorry for were actually a) black b) angry. It wasn't even a riot, the protests were peaceful, just furious.

fingers malone
Jun 17 2017 09:16

^^ I'm sorry I inflicted that poison on people.

The community demos were amazing and some thing that came across very strongly were:

People had very sharp knowledge of why this happened, that this fire was an act of class violence,
that the authorities and developers hadn't bothered to protect them because they were working class and expendable.

You saw a working class London community in all its glory, the hugely multicultural crowd, the deeply rooted connection to a place and a community and at the same time the openness to people from all over the world, people describing their experience of a lifetime of struggle over bad housing and racism but also a confidence, a toughness and a pride forged in that struggle.

People been talking complete pig shit for the past year about metropolitan elites and they know fuck all about London. Communities like this are forged both in the experience of migration and of strong community bonds and solidarity, they've been multicultural from the day they were built, this bs about openness being only for elites and community solidarity being only for white people is pure bs.

Loads of people are confused because the tower block is in Kensington, famous as a super rich area, but the block is in Notting Dale, which has been famous for bad housing conditions and class conflict since before I was born.

Noah Fence
Jun 17 2017 10:41

Thanks for your posts Fingers.

wojtek
Jun 17 2017 13:52

24 storeys. How many lived there?

Joseph Kay
Jun 17 2017 14:05
wojtek wrote:
24 storeys. How many lived there?

400-600 according to a local councillor. About 125 dwellings, mostly 1 and 2 bedroom flats it sounds like.

jef costello
Jun 17 2017 14:08
wojtek wrote:
24 storeys. How many lived there?

I've seen 400 in the press, but I think that is an underestimate, I have seen different floor plans showing four 4-bed flats or a larger number of smaller flats, the Telegraph is claiming the whole building was 1 or 2-bed flats with a floor plan showing 4 2-bed and two 1-bed per floor. I assume the floor plans change because you put up dividing walls as you like once the shell has gone up.
The Telegraph says 120 flats which would be 5 per floor with up to 600 people present.
I think 30 dead and 70 missing will sadly turn out to be an underestimate.

395 pw for 2-bed flat in there.

radicalgraffiti
Jun 17 2017 14:08
Serge Forward
Jun 17 2017 17:15
Quote:
a lot of the great British public are writing 'sympathy withdrawn' 'rehouse them in their own bloody countries' 'there are no white people left in London anymore' 'learn to use electrical equipment before you come here'

Nah. That'll be the usual Daily Mail reading suspects or fash trolls who are just looking for a convenient peg to hang their default racism on. Hardly the 'great British public' though to be fair.

fingers malone
Jun 17 2017 22:50

Ok fair enough Serge. I was very wound up.

There are worries that quite a few people living in the block were in dodgy sublets and so won't be officially counted as living there, and that surviving people may not be accessing any help due to fear about this. There are calls for an amnesty to be declared for tenants over migration and sublet issues so people do not need to be afraid to get help.

S. Artesian
Jul 15 2017 03:56

Removed in protest of Libcom policies allowing posting of texts by racists

wojtek
Jun 18 2017 03:15

How do you think one should treat this?https://mobile.twitter.com/gathrer