Smothered by regeneration: the Grenfell Tower fire

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.

Submitted by libcom on June 14, 2017

£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:

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:

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on June 14, 2017

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:

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.

Battlescarred

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Battlescarred on June 14, 2017

http://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/theresa-mays-chief-of-staff-sat-on-report-warning-high-rise-blocks-like-grenfell-tower-were-vulnerable-to-fire/ar-BBCETB6?li=BBoPRmx&ocid=mailsignout

Rob Ray

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on June 14, 2017

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on June 14, 2017

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

Rob Ray

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on June 14, 2017

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.

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 14, 2017

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Jim on June 15, 2017

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on June 15, 2017

article

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;

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on June 15, 2017

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

Rob Ray

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on June 15, 2017

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.

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 15, 2017

Rob Ray

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on June 15, 2017

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by bastarx on June 16, 2017

Serge Forward

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Rob Ray on June 16, 2017

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 16, 2017

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on June 16, 2017

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on June 16, 2017

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Noah Fence on June 16, 2017

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on June 16, 2017

bastarx

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 17, 2017

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 17, 2017

^^ 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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Noah Fence on June 17, 2017

Thanks for your posts Fingers.

Joseph Kay

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on June 17, 2017

wojtek

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jef costello on June 17, 2017

wojtek

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by radicalgraffiti on June 17, 2017

wojtek

24 storeys. How many lived there?

~ 600 people

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/14/grenfell-tower-floorplan-shows-120-flats-packed-highrise/

Serge Forward

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Serge Forward on June 17, 2017

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

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 17, 2017

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

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 15, 2017

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

wojtek

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by wojtek on June 18, 2017

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

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 18, 2017

What is it Wojtek? I can't read it

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 18, 2017

[edit- intentionally homeless story has been posted by loads of reputable left wing journalists and good community activists so I think it's true]

I thought the council would try to pull loads of unhuman disgusting treatment of the residents in a few months when the fuss died down and the media went away.

I was wrong- they are not waiting. Residents are being told they have to accept being rehoused hundreds of miles away from London or else they will be treated as intentionally homeless.

INTENTIONALLY HOMELESS

I'm worrying how do we stop this, how do we back the residents here?

I went to West London on Friday and I decided I won't go again for a while until I'm given some specific task to do, because I didn't feel happy with being there standing around in the street, yes, listening to the residents directly, without relying on the media, which was important, but apart from that I didn't know what use I was being.

Saturday instead of going to West London I went to the housing group I'm already in and did what I usually do. And I do think, yes, we should be at meetings in our own areas, pushing for changes, I think we should do that but I don't think it's enough.

The government and the companies that did this need to pay, because the only way they won't do this again and again is if this fire causes such a reaction that the ruling class remember it for fifty years, and so killing people like this is judged 'politically unviable'.

The housing situation needs to change root and branch, everything, not just more safety in the high rises but but everything, there's families in overcrowded rooms all over the place cooking near the cot and the laundry drying because they have NO CHOICE and we need to make sure the Grenfell residents are not fucked over but I'm struggling with how we, as, not outsiders, I'm a high rise council tenant, anyway there's no outsiders in the working class, but as, as 'not-locals' how do we support the community and push for major change now?

There's issues with sensitivity, listening to a community that's grieving, and also with effectiveness, we will need to make sure we stay with this long term and see no one is forgotten and we don't move on when the cameras go away. But it's difficult, there's a problem with how the needs of the community get transmitted to the wider concerned movement, we have very weak associational ties in most cases, there are some housing networks but they are very under resourced.

I'm gonna stop writing this, sorry this is not coherent, I have to keep stopping and walking round the room so I don't punch walls.

wojtek

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by wojtek on June 18, 2017

The twitter link was to an online list of missing people from Grenfell Tower, London (can copy and paste the link). I don't know if it's accurate.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 18, 2017

I can only tell you that in the area there are so many posters with photos of people who are missing, they are papered over the walls, there just are so many.
In poor areas the number of people who actually sleep in a tower block is much higher than the number of people officially registered as living there. The people who mostly help poor people are other poor people. So when people are in difficulties they find help in already overcrowded blocks, not in nice spacious houses with spare rooms and functioning fire safety systems.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 18, 2017

Politicians are saying we need to pull down '70s tower blocks'. That cladding was added in 2015. There are reports now that existing fire breaks got taken out during that refurbishment and then were not replaced.

There are private tenants all over the countriy in houses 100+ years old that have issues of fire risk, mould and damp causing breathing problems in children, too many stairs creating access problems. They are not advocating new building the entire country are they?

What's the specific issue with 70s social housing tower blocks that makes them different? Social cleansing. Development. Money. Profit.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 18, 2017

I feel like I'm talking into a void now, feedback would be appreciated.

S. Artesian

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by S. Artesian on July 15, 2017

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

Fleur

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on June 18, 2017

Fingers

Grenfell Fire - How To Help
https://grenfellsupport.wordpress.com/

Thank you for your posts, Fingers. I don't know about anyone else but my lack of feedback is just because it is so overwhelming. I don't even know how to pull apart the grief and the fury and I'm a long, long way away and I cannot even imagine what it's like in London right now.

Between all the inhumanity being spoken - Boris Johnson's sister blaming the fire brigade, Nicholas Paget-Brown blaming the tenants, calls to demolish yet more homes but also the overwhelming acts of solidarity, kindness, mutual aid I'm seeing, I'm pretty speechless right now. But thank you so much for your posts, they are very valuable and please take care of yourself x

Khawaga

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on June 18, 2017

Please keep posting fingers. As others have said, this is just so fucking bad that I'm at a loss of words. I can't believe that they are threatened with becoming intentionally homeless if they don't accept being relocated that far away. I mean, you just fucking survived that inferno and then you are forced to move away from presumably where you have your friends, support network, jobs, etc. What the fuck? Am I misunderstanding something?

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 18, 2017

The last serious block fire that I know of was Lakanal House in Southwark where six people died and more were injured. The advice given to tenants was the same as in Grenfall, stay put. The people who survived were the people who didn't follow it and who ran for the stairs.

Thing is that advice isn't wrong, exactly. The advice is sound IF all the other measures that are supposed to be in place are actually there and working. Concrete tower blocks are supposed to be built to contain fire in one flat or at worst on one floor. The fire brigade will usually have to run up the same stairwell that panicking tenants are trying to flee down carrying the children and the dog.

The Lakanal House fire led to assurances that the fire regulations would be reviewed but these reports were not made public when they should have been. One of the demands of the Grenfell residents is 'release the reports'. Which shows up all this 'wait for the enquiry' as cynical whitewashing.

I went to look around the block to see what the fire advice is- there is no fire advice. There is no fire notice. A new ladder in a locked bracket has been fitted since the fire but there are no letters telling us about safety inspections. People in other high rise blocks are telling me about all sorts of safety problems they are trying to investigate, sometimes they have been campaigning for years. Sometimes the council 'don't know' what materials have been used. People are asking on Facebook how you check the dry risers.

The trouble is we are told to obey the regulations and not panic, but now there is zero trust that safety measures are really there or that work signed off as safe is safe.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 18, 2017

Hey thanks everyone.
I'll try not to be so over emotional, I shouldn't even be complaining at all, I'm safer than many people. I'm partly freaking out here cos my family won't see it, unlike facebook.

Fleur

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fleur on June 18, 2017

I'll try not to be so over emotional,

Fingers, you have every right to be highly emotional and it is totally understandable. You have nothing to reproach yourself for.

Spikymike

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on June 18, 2017

From long experience working in both the direct local state provision and improvement of Council/social and private sector housing in the UK it is not surprising, but frustrating, that both politicians and many well meaning social activists lurch back and forth with proposals and demands for wholesale demolition and then wholesale improvement/refurbishment of housing in response to each twist and turn of the social-economic and technical problems that arise in the long history of capitalism without inevitably any significant long term solutions to the problems which the working class suffer in terms of a healthy physical shelter and an urban structure supportive of working class community.
As to the recent specific problems relating to this episode of human and structural destruction it seems to me that many of the same basic refurbishment works involved could have been beneficial to the residents in relative terms if both the materials and workmanship were of the highest quality as in many private sector higher value schemes, though that would still have depended on reliable and efficient maintenance of the final product. Neither of these can be relied on in a profit driven system and one which has seen a long drift from at least the days of 'New Labour' towards more and more 'outsourcing' of both in-house technical expertise and direct works construction further exacerbated by long lines of subcontracting.
The mantra of a rigid 'commissioning'/ 'provider' split applied to UK Local Authority services has caused a further loosening and weakening of lines of accountability with the reduced expertise on the 'commissioning' side meaning that requirements to provide anything over and above basic legal housing and building regulation standards have been squeezed from both private sector provider lobbying and central government direction aimed at pushing costs down to the minimum.
Add to that the now well known reluctance to upgrade building regulations to take account of new and limited in-use materials and construction methods themselves a product of the same competitive cost-cutting system and further problems and risks were just to be expected. In social housing especially, resident consultation systems in place have improved at least on paper but are often not respected or implemented well by the different bodies involved and do not amount anyway to actual resident power and control of housing. Active Resident and Tenant associations can help to mitigate the imbalance of power but too often these become embroiled in local political power plays and serve as vehicles for individuals with their own separate ambitions to self-promote. My own individual past efforts in my work role to promote quality improvements to the provision of working class housing and respect by all for my fellow workers within the restrictive framework of the state have had some minor successes from time to time but frankly that became harder and harder as time went by. Since retiring I have seen the wholesale decimation of the total LA workforce to the point where it is hardly surprising that when an emergency arises there is a totally inadequate response to the scale of that emergency.

Zia

6 years 5 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Zia on October 30, 2017

Thanks for the posts and information especially Fingers, everything you've written here is excellent and we need to know. Not surprised you are struggling since it's all almost unthinkable and you're very close to it. Take care.

baboon

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by baboon on June 19, 2017

According to BBC's Panorama tonight the original fridge fire, possibly caused by one of the frequent power surges, was put out and the firemen left. They weren't to know but it looks like the fire continued to burn away up the cladding which was acting as an accelerant. Incidentally, the Daily Mail tried to blame the fridge owner for the fire and apologised in the wake of a social media onslaught entirely in keeping with the general mood of solidarity within the working class.

The council had a £270-odd million surplus in the bank, particularly as a result, in its words, of an "overachieving efficiency drive". Just before the election, on the basis of its savage cuts, the council gave the wealthiest residents a council tax rebate. The Guardian reports today: 'The rebate was paid weeks before local elections which returned a Conservative council, the author of the letter wrote. “Austerity, K&C style: you give to the rich while taking from the poor (nobody with discounted bills or claiming council tax support was eligible to share in the bounty of the town hall blue-chips).
“As the toxic ash of Grenfell Tower’s vanity cladding falls over the neighbouring streets, we are left with the acrid truth in our throats: regeneration in the Royal Borough is in fact a crime of greed and selfishness,” the author wrote'.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 19, 2017

That news about the start of the fire is quite shocking.

There is great anger that the Kensington and Chelsea Council has not been supporting the homeless families or communicating with this community, the council have been 'relieved of responsibility' for the situation now and a task force has been sent in. I don't really know what that means but what people are saying is that nearly all the work is being done by volunteers and the council are not even co ordinating the volunteer effort.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 21, 2017

Hey, if you've seen these headlines about 'Grenfell Tower residents to be given luxury flats in central London development, it's massively misleading. I'm gonna go through all the details n then post something.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 21, 2017

Ok in brief when a developer wants to build flats they often have to include, for example, 20% of flats for social housing (called section 106 requirements). The flats referred to are the social housing flats in a private development. So the tenants are not being 'given' anything they will be renting those flats, and the developer hasn't been amazingly generous, they were obliged to build those flats by the planning regulations. The flats won't be 'luxury' flats, they will be the same size as any other social housing flats, although new.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 21, 2017

Questions
1 how much are the rents
2 what about the Grenfield residents who didn't have council tenancies

Noah Fence

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Noah Fence on June 21, 2017

Yeah, I heard about this on Radio 5, the collaborationist BBC one obviously couched the language in terms of "given" and "luxury". No real challenge was mounted on Radio 4 to the suggestion by listeners that those that entered the council offices were the regular rent a mob. These fuckers close ranks pretty damned fast.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 21, 2017

Some piranha fish who have taken the shape of human beings are complaining to the papers that they don't want the Grenfell tenants to be rehoused there as it will lower their property prices.

jef costello

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jef costello on June 21, 2017

fingers malone

Ok in brief when a developer wants to build flats they often have to include, for example, 20% of flats for social housing (called section 106 requirements). The flats referred to are the social housing flats in a private development. So the tenants are not being 'given' anything they will be renting those flats, and the developer hasn't been amazingly generous, they were obliged to build those flats by the planning regulations. The flats won't be 'luxury' flats, they will be the same size as any other social housing flats, although new.

Absolutely corrct, although the percentage is negotiable with the council and has a habit of disappearing between approval and construction.

Cooked

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Cooked on June 21, 2017

A Swedish broadsheet has the headline "The Government buys luxury flats for people affected by fire" then goes on to translate a guardian article passing it of as their own.

It's really nasty how the articles even when acknowledging that they aren't actually the luxury flats still spend so much text on the description, price etc of the luxury part that having read the article you get the completely wrong impression. Coupled with the headline is so badly misleading. A narrative no one can pass down I guess.

Khawaga

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on June 21, 2017

A Swedish broadsheet has the headline "The Government buys luxury flats for people affected by fire" then goes on to translate a guardian article passing it of as their own.

It's really nasty how the articles even when acknowledging that they aren't actually the luxury flats still spend so much text on the description, price etc of the luxury part that having read the article you get the completely wrong impression. Coupled with the headline is so badly misleading. A narrative no one can pass down I guess.

Fucking clickbait titles, which conveniently operates as ideological class warfare.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 21, 2017

If the sons of company directors,
And judges' private daughters,
Had to go to school in a slum school,
Dumped by some joker in a damp back alley,
Had to herd into classrooms cramped with worry,
With a view onto slagheaps and stagnant pools,
Had to file through corridors grey with age,
And play in a crackpot concrete cage.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Buttons would be pressed,
Rules would be broken.
Strings would be pulled
And magic words spoken.
Invisible fingers would mould
Palaces of gold.

If prime ministers and advertising executives,
Royal personages and bank managers' wives
Had to live out their lives in dank rooms,
Blinded by smoke and the foul air of sewers.
Rot on the walls and rats in the cellars,
In rows of dumb houses like mouldering tombs.
Had to bring up their children and watch them grow
In a wasteland of dead streets where nothing will grow.

I'm not suggesting any kind of a plot,
Everyone knows there's not,
But you unborn millions might like to be warned
That if you don't want to be buried alive by slagheaps,
Pit-falls and damp walls and rat-traps and dead streets,
Arrange to be democratically born
The son of a company director
Or a judge's fine and private daughter.

Buttons will be pressed
Rules will be broken
Strings will be pulled
And magic words spoken
Invisible fingers will mould
Palaces of gold.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 22, 2017

Daily Mirror saying cladding may have given off toxic fumes.

Guardian sugesting material specified in the plans was fireproof but then the material actually used wasn't.

[edit] tv news says today they've started testing the cladding on other tower blocks and some results are coming back as flammable, there are even more blocks covered in flammable material, Grenfell wasn't any kind of freak one off accident, this was gonna happen somewhere. This isn't a flaw from the seventies when they were built, cladding is recent, they have repeatedly allowed blocks with hundreds of people living in them to be turned into death traps oh my god

[edit] news is saying 600 blocks affected

Do the people need to move out while they take off the cladding? Where the fuck will that many people go? Who will pay for the work, the councils can't pay, it would bankrupt them. What the fuck is going to happen now. This is a massive infrastructure crisis.

Also I had a letter through the door today, it still tells me to stay put if the block is on fire.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 22, 2017

Camden Council say that some of their blocks now when tested are coming up as combustible cladding (it's polyethylene core that was used in Grenfell but polystyrene is also unsafe) when the specifications say a better, non combustible cladding. So cheaper materials have been substituted when the work is actually being carried out.

This is going to be very stressful for high rise residents as there will be reports saying work passed fire safety inspections but based on dishonest paperwork so everything will need to be checked and tested. Also the dangerous cladding looks the same as the safer one.

Mike Harman

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on June 22, 2017

The reporting of the 'luxury flats' has been disgusting everywhere. Also the reporting today that residents will be 'banned' from the shared facilities like the pool/gym as if that doesn't already happen in every social housing component via poor doors and similar.

There's a protest on Monday called by Barnet Housing Action since a large tower block there has the same cladding: https://www.facebook.com/events/1462279980496914/

Cooked

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Cooked on June 22, 2017

[edit] news is saying 600 blocks affected

Do the people need to move out while they take off the cladding? Where the fuck will that many people go? Who will pay for the work, the councils can't pay, it would bankrupt them. What the fuck is going to happen now. This is a massive infrastructure crisis.

Also I had a letter through the door today, it still tells me to stay put if the block is on fire.

Most likely people can stay during the works. It depends on the specific details used in the construction. If it's just the cladding panels that are unsafe they should be fairly straightforward to replace as they are the outer layer and fixed on place by simple means. The panels are most often not even critical to the waterproofing of the building so it can be left naked for a while.

The bigger problem is people staying until the works starts imho.

The stay put info should be correct if you live in a towerblock without combustible facade. IE not reclad but brick or concrete. There are fires in towerblocks all the time but they rarely spread beyond the flat. If the vertical distance between windows is enough the flames won't jump to the next floor. So unless you have windows that go down to the floor (without balcony) or a plastic facade you should be fine.

I'm not an expert on these things but I know a fair bit through work and have been in the UK construction industry (never worked on tower blocks)

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 22, 2017

Thanks

Spikymike

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on June 22, 2017

Maybe too much detail for some and I cannot vouch for the accuracy of everything there but this wikipedia site is useful in summarising the various issues:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grenfell_Tower_fire

A small point but in relation to overcladding - the type of rainscreen product or other weather finish, type of insulation material as well as the installation specification and correct application of that are all in combination what is most relevant in terms of preventing rapid fire spread. Some combined systems are better than others and there have been a variety of different systems used on high rise housing over the last decade or so. Presumably all will be subject to review now with priority given to those most similar to the Grenfell Tower system.

Khawaga

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Khawaga on June 22, 2017

Mike Harman

The reporting of the 'luxury flats' has been disgusting everywhere.

Yeah, after days of not really writing about Greenfell, one of the "front page" headlines on a Norwegian tabloid was about the upset residents of the luxury flats that had worked really hard to get to live there and it's unfair that this poor people can now live there. Fucking sickening.

Spikymike

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on June 22, 2017

Also this dramatic 'first hand account' from a Firefighter;
http://rankandfile.ca/2017/06/22/from-a-firefighter-at-grenfell-tower/

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 22, 2017

One of the reasons this has happened is a deliberate encouragement of a distain for council tenants in this country. This might sound strong but it's a real factor. Think of the counsellor who when asked if tenants had raised fears about fire safety replied 'people in tower blocks always complain'. I know there were people in the block who didn't have council tenancies, but they have also been victims of that distain. People from council estates are part of that massive section of the population who are seen as having no right to speak and nothing to say worth listening to.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 23, 2017

I reckon we need to start orgsnising right now against the threat that they knock all the towers down and use this opportunity to expel us from the city, or else that they do the safety work, say they need some kind of PFI money to do it, increase the rents and put us on insecure tenancies.

Ed

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on June 23, 2017

Fingers, do you know if the the Radical Housing Network (or someone similar) are doing something like that?

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 23, 2017

I'm going to a meeting Monday, will report back.

There are 600 tower blocks with cladding, they are all being tested. So far 11 blocks have been found to have dangerous cladding. Some block s may need to be evacuated.

While people are busy frothing at the mouth at photos of luxury flats that are not even the flats people will be rehoused in, Grenfell tenants are still being treated like shit. Reports of people being told to sign papers that relinquished their rights and private tenants not being offered rehousing.

Mike Harman

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on June 23, 2017

fingers malone

I reckon we need to start organising right now against the threat that they knock all the towers down and use this opportunity to expel us from the city, or else that they do the safety work, say they need some kind of PFI money to do it, increase the rents and put us on insecure tenancies.

David Lammy, who's been very angry about the fire (and lost a friend in it), has nevertheless re-inforced this approach by situating 'high rises' as the central problem rather than the years of ignoring tenants and the many, many refurbishment failures, so this does seem like a real threat and it's one that could be re-inforced even by people with good intentions if things keep getting framed that way.

There was a meeting last night about this - was anyone able to attend it? https://twitter.com/ASH_housing/status/876749585363984384

Red Marriott

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on June 23, 2017

Tenants in tower blocks with dodgy cladding or other issues need to be ready to demand from landlords legal guarantees on right to return, quality of future tenancies and temporary relocation before agreeing to move out for repairs or any other reason. They also need to demand guarantees on how it will affect their future service charge costs if things like sprinklers are fitted (tenants & leaseholders have often been ripped off by social landlords via extortionate service charges.) Fortunately a lot of free legal advice has been offered in the fire's aftermath, hopefully that will be ongoing to all affected.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 23, 2017

Yeah if anyone can do a report back from that meeting that would really help.

I don't think we are gonna get free legal advice unfortunately. Law centres and progressive law firms have been offering free help to Grenfell residents and will probably do so for years and years as those cases will be very complicated. The rest of us will be in the same boat as all the other thousands of people who are in very serious situations and really need help but now don't have access to the law. Our need is great but so is everybody else's and I don't think the law centres can take on thousands of displaced council tenants without some funding.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 23, 2017

Mike Harman

David Lammy, who's been very angry about the fire (and lost a friend in it), has nevertheless re-inforced this approach by situating 'high rises' as the central problem rather than the years of ignoring tenants and the many, many refurbishment failures, so this does seem like a real threat and it's one that could be re-inforced even by people with good intentions if things keep getting framed that way

That's right, that's exactly why I'm worried, Lammy said it, Saddique Khan said it and now May is saying social housing has been 'neglected' I mean yes obviously it has but she won't have anything good in store for us. Development opportunities on prime brownfield sites is what our homes mean to them.

Red Marriott

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on June 23, 2017

fingers

Our need is great but so is everybody else's and I don't think the law centres can take on thousands of displaced council tenants without some funding.

True, but in most cases it would probably be better anyway for the tenants/residents association to put demands on behalf of the whole block/estate long before displacement and demand a general agreement applying to all residents. Someone like the Radical Housing Network or other sympathetic legal eagles could put together an info pack for tenants groups. The struggle for guarantees would probably often be at a borough-wide level from the council landlord in the case of council housing.

fingers malone

6 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 23, 2017

Thanks that's useful.

fingers malone

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 23, 2017

21 storey tower blocks evacuated tonight in Camden as the cladding is not safe. The cladding will be taken off, people will be out of the block for about 4 weeks.

Grenfell residents have been evicted from their accommodation with less than a day's warning and told to go to different temp accommodation scattered all over London. Legal observers intervened and most people have now been moved to one place so they can at least stay together.

Spikymike

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on June 24, 2017

fingers, not sure but it looks as though a series of other fire safety matters, besides the cladding, were at the base of the reasons for the immediate evacuation of those Camden blocks. Many of the problems seem to relate precisely to the sort of past (and present?) management and maintenance failures that the Grenfell tenants complained of and something other Social housing managements and tenants groups in all multi-storey blocks will now be top of their priority list of actions.

baboon

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by baboon on June 24, 2017

Here's another element from Reuters today:https://www.yahoo.com/news/arconic-knowingly-supplied-flammable-panels-tower-emails-071223178--finance.html

Steven.

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on June 24, 2017

Cooked

[edit] news is saying 600 blocks affected

Do the people need to move out while they take off the cladding? Where the fuck will that many people go? Who will pay for the work, the councils can't pay, it would bankrupt them. What the fuck is going to happen now. This is a massive infrastructure crisis.

Most likely people can stay during the works. It depends on the specific details used in the construction. If it's just the cladding panels that are unsafe they should be fairly straightforward to replace as they are the outer layer and fixed on place by simple means. The panels are most often not even critical to the waterproofing of the building so it can be left naked for a while.

The bigger problem is people staying until the works starts imho.

yeah this is basically why Camden Council decided to evacuate several tower blocks covered in the same cladding. They had started to take them down with residents inside, but after an assessment they determined that actually it wasn't safe for residents to be there at all with them up, hence moving them all.

Camden says that testing showed the cladding/insulation panels were not what they agreed/paid for in the contract. If this is the case, then the plan will be to sue the contractor to get them to pay for the cost of the works. And I imagine the contractor may try to place the blame on their subcontractor, so they may try to sue them in turn…

Cooked

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Cooked on June 24, 2017

Steven.

Camden says that testing showed the cladding/insulation panels were not what they agreed/paid for in the contract. If this is the case, then the plan will be to sue the contractor to get them to pay for the cost of the works. And I imagine the contractor may try to place the blame on their subcontractor, so they may try to sue them in turn…

Contractors/subcontractors can make quite a bit of money installing alternative products, whether this is allowed in the contract or not. So they try to get away with it and unless there is someone *really* keeping an eye out it will slip through. There are thousands of opportunities for this kind of thing on a construction site.

The contractor or subcontractor will likely go bust and the cost of the re-cladding will fail to be recovered. Not an uncommon thing. Hopefully they can't get away with it this time!

Red Marriott

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on June 24, 2017

Cooked

Contractors/subcontractors can make quite a bit of money installing alternative products, whether this is allowed in the contract or not. So they try to get away with it and unless there is someone *really* keeping an eye out it will slip through. There are thousands of opportunities for this kind of thing on a construction site.

The contractor or subcontractor will likely go bust and the cost of the re-cladding will fail to be recovered. Not an uncommon thing. Hopefully they can't get away with it this time!

You'd expect criminal charges against some contractors. Unfortunately they'll likely take the full rap while the arrogant local politicians and bureaucrats whose regimes failed to inspect and monitor adequately, the govt. politicians who failed to legislate adequately and the landlords and regulators who ignored the safety concerns repeatedly raised by tenants will probably all get away with it, though they too have blood on their hands.

fingers malone

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by fingers malone on June 25, 2017

Spikymike

fingers, not sure but it looks as though a series of other fire safety matters, besides the cladding, were at the base of the reasons for the immediate evacuation of those Camden blocks. Many of the problems seem to relate precisely to the sort of past (and present?) management and maintenance failures that the Grenfell tenants complained of and something other Social housing managements and tenants groups in all multi-storey blocks will now be top of their priority list of actions.

I've heard exposed gas pipes was one issue, apparently they are supposed to be boxed in with a protective material.

Red Marriott

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Red Marriott on June 26, 2017

Leading Tory councillor starts to not feel so untouchable; the property he's left is the same one the Grenfell Action Group accused him of buying due to his prior inside Council knowledge of proposed 'regeneration' (ie, gentrification) projects that would eventually greatly increase the property's value. https://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/will-rbkc-investigate-rock-feilding-mellen/

The wealthy Tory councillor who oversaw the Grenfell Tower refurbishment has fled his home after threats from angry residents.

Rock Feilding-Mellen, Cabinet Member for Housing and deputy leader of Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council, moved his family out of his luxury £1.2million three-storey townhouse amid concerns for their safety.

Police have now been called in to investigate the threats and allegations of vandalism at the property. ...
During the refurbishment of the 24-storey council block, the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation reported directly to him, it is understood. ...
His involvement in the project has made him a target for locals’ outrage since the tragedy 11 days ago, feared to have claimed the lives of 79 people. However the redevelopment was ­actually initiated by his predecessor.

Yesterday a council spokesman said: “Following threats and vandalism outside his house, which has been reported to the police, he had to ­relocate his family – at his own expense – during the course of last weekend. ...
The councillor, who was first elected in 2006, bought his property close to Grenfell Tower in 2010 for £750,000.

A police spokesman said: “Police were alerted on Saturday, 17 June, to reports of posters with allegedly abusive content displayed outside a residential address in the borough of Kensington. ...
Council chief executive Nicholas Holgate was forced to quit on Thursday over the bungled handling of the crisis.

On the Friday after the blaze, Mr Feilding-Mellen had been expected to attend the 30th birthday of his step-sister Mary Charteris at Stanway House in Gloucestershire, home of his stepfather James Charteris, the Earl of Wemyss and March. ...
But he apparently told friends he felt it would be inappropriate to attend the bash with the boho set, including Cara Delevingne and Jaime Winstone, on the 5,000-acre estate.

Accusations levelled at the council continue, including a theory that they put the appearance over fire safety to appease locals.

An online profile on the council’s website quotes Mr Feilding-Mellen listing “attractiveness” before “safety” in his priorities for housing. ...

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/tory-councillor-behind-grenfell-tower-10683281

Spikymike

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on June 27, 2017

People may have noticed a reference to warnings apparently ignored in the UK following an earlier fire in the Lacrosse building in Melbourne Australia but those warnings haven't been taken on board there either with the suspect cladding on that block still in place today it seems!
A reasonable report on that at this trot site here:
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/06/27/aust-j27.html
Of course fire safety isn't just a matter of the cladding materials and note the reference to the role of sprinklers in the Lacrosse case.

wojtek

6 years 9 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by wojtek on July 1, 2017

They're evidently going to do a mau mau job or at least a hillsborough one on this.

Spikymike

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on March 9, 2018

And just to keep this up-to-date as report of a recent Parliamentary debate plus some local news updates here:
www.salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=4393

R Totale

6 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by R Totale on March 9, 2018

A lovely illustration of the state's priorities here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-43305379