Tag: empty homes in Kensington and Chelsea

Criminal…

The horrific fire at Grenfell Tower and the tragic and needless loss of life, with the number of fatalities rising, is too much to fully comprehend at the moment. What we’re going to try and do with this post is comment on what we know so far…

Firstly, there are some people saying that the Grenfell Tower fire should not be ‘politicised’…seriously… We think this piece on Huck from Aaron Bastani is the perfect response that that assertion: Don’t you dare say the fatal Grenfell Tower fire is not ‘political’http://www.huckmagazine.com/perspectives/opinion-perspectives/greenfell-tower-fire-political-aron-bastani/

There’s the issue of why the fire spread so quickly. According to a number of reports we read, the materials used in the cladding and the cavity created after it was installed on the exterior of the tower which acted as a wind tunnel played a major part in the rapid spread of the blaze. The worst part about this is that one of the main reasons the cladding was put on the tower was to ‘improve view for nearby luxury flats’: Cladding added to Grenfell Tower to ‘improve view for nearby luxury flats’http://metro.co.uk/2017/06/14/cladding-added-to-grenfell-tower-to-improve-view-for-nearby-luxury-flats-6709369/ Words fail us…

The Grenfell Action Group have made numerous warnings about fire safety issues in the tower over recent years to the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea who own the block and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation who supposedly manage all of the social housing in the borough: Grenfell Tower Firehttps://grenfellactiongroup.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/grenfell-tower-fire/ It’s the same old story – arrogant local authorities who repeatedly refuse to listen to the genuine concerns of residents living in social housing.

What’s heartening is the way the local community and people from across London and beyond have rallied round to offer whatever help and solidarity they can: How London came to the rescue during the Grenfell Tower firehttp://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/how-london-came-to-the-rescue-during-the-grenfell-tower-fire-a3564956.html We saw this quote on Facebook which pretty much sums it up for us: The people spring into action way quicker than any government or bureaucracy. The people helping those affected by the Grenfell fire are practicing anarchism. Without them people would be going hungry tonight and not have clothes. People often ask how would anarchism work? It already does, every day and whenever you don’t have anyone on your back dictating what you do or how you do it.

Emergency accommodation has been provided by the Westway Trusthttp://www.westway.org/ It’s groups and organisations like this springing into action when tragedy strikes who make a real difference. However, a comrade checked hotel vacancies in Kensington and Chelsea today and there were a fair few rooms available. It would be nice to think that these hotels would be rallying round and offering their rooms for free to those made homeless by this disaster – we won’t be holding our breath though…

Not only that, Kensington and Chelsea has the highest number of empty homes in Greater London: Map reveals shocking number of empty homes across Londonhttp://metro.co.uk/2017/05/11/map-reveals-shocking-number-of-empty-homes-across-london-6630121/ A fair number of these are owned as ‘investment vehicles’ to be flipped at a point when the property market is swiftly rising. In theory, everyone displaced by this disaster could be re-housed, temporarily and permanently in Kensington and Chelsea if the council had the political will to seize these empty, unused properties. But we know that’s not going to happen… In all likelihood, temporary accommodation will be outside of the borough and quite possibly outside of London. Somehow, we think that when Kensington and Chelsea feel the time is right to re-build the tower, they won’t be re-building it as social housing – eventually it’s going to be seen by the borough as another money spinning development opportunity. That’s if the people let them…

The extent of this disaster has yet to fully reveal itself: Grenfell Tower fire: Police open criminal investigation into blaze that killed 17 as fears grow death toll could reach 100http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/grenfell-tower-fire-criminal-investigation-manslaughter-police-latest-a7792446.html To be honest, it’s too hard to write about this at the moment as our feelings are swinging between immense sadness on the one hand and barely controllable rage on the other. Suffice to say that the authorities would rather drip feed the number of fatalities over the next few weeks rather than admit the scale of this tragedy…

The level of anger at the scale of this utterly needless disaster is visceral and goes way beyond the so called ‘usual suspects’. Needless to say that the authorities will be doing their level best to stifle and control that anger – given the inconclusive general election result and the already ongoing political and constitutional crisis, they may struggle in this objective. How all of this will eventually play itself out is anyone’s guess…