Grenfell Tower Fire: Does the government have blood on their hands?

Other | Monday 19th June 2017 | Patience

On June the 14th in North Kensington, 45 fire engines and more than 200 firefighters tackled a blaze that had spread unexpectedly fast throughout Grenfell Tower, a 24-storey building.

Many people were left trapped in the building due to the smoke, while fire crews were only able to reach the 12th floor at the height of the fire.

One mother of six only realised two of her children were missing once she got to the ground, eyewitnesses also remember watching a mother throwing her baby out of the building on the 10th floor as the fire intensified, thankfully the baby was caught by a man below.

Others that weren't able to flee the flat, used social media and phone calls to say goodbye to their loved ones as the fire got closer & closer.

The fire has claimed over 70 lives so far and with more people still missing, Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy has since said there is  "a risk that sadly we may not be able to identify everybody."

Not much is actually known about what caused the fire in the first place but residents had previously complained about the "cheap material and corner cutting" in the block's refurbishment last summer. The Grenfell Action Group went on to say in a blog post that this was a "catastrophe" waiting to happen.

Like many other buildings in London, flammable cladding was used for the exterior of the Grenfell Tower, which played a major part in "accelerating and spreading what began as a single dwelling fire."  The entire 24-storey building became a "raging inferno" in less than an hour.

The cladding was not introduced to benefit the residents actually living in Grenfell Tower but it was used to "pimp up" the area by the Kensington & Chelsea Council.

In a recent interview with the BBC, Piki Skeu went on to claim that the "shoddy" renovations made to the Tower, was to give the council "more reasons to knock these blocks down."

According to an article in the Guardian, Government ministers were warned several times of breaches of fire safety standards and that the use of this cladding on high-rise blocks was unsafe, and as we now know, is also illegal.

In the 1990's the home office received a "damning report" by architect Sam Webb, following his survey of hundreds of residential tower blocks. His study found that half of the buildings he inspected did not meet basic fire & safety regulations.

To make matters worse in 2015 Conservative MP's voted against a new 'Housing and Planning Bill' which proposed a new rule that would have required landlords to make their buildings "fit for human habitation." This comes as no surprise, as 72 of the MPs that voted against the amendment were also landlords and a majority of their income came from property. 

MOBO award winner Akala, explains why a lot of the concerns raised by Grenfell residents were ignored by the government, "the people who died and lost their homes, this happened to them cause they are poor. We are in one of the richest spaces, not just in London but in the world and the repeated requests were ignored..."

Since the fire, many survivors were left stranded with no home or money, Prime Minister Theresa May went on to say that the initial support for the residents "was not good enough."

Unfortunately, it still seems like not much is being done to improve the support given to the Grenfell victims. Film producer Nisha Parti, who has been helping on the ground, went on to say that " Kensington and Chelsea are giving ten pounds to the survivors when they go to the hotels – a tenner – there is money pouring in from all these amazing volunteers". 

When asked why people were struggling to access the money given to them she replied,  “No one is telling us where it is. Victims will go into hotels, arriving at hotels with no one from the council to greet them, to check them in, to look after them, to give them clothes and food."

So it's no wonder people are storming the Kensington Town Hall, and chanting, "Shame on you, shame on you!"

Residents are also faced with moving several miles away from Kensington, with many people's lives already rooted in the area, this is another let down by a government that knows they are still just not 'doing enough'.

In memory of all those who lost their lives Ham the Illustrator has created a tribute video to help spread awareness of the injustice that  led to the Grenfell Tower fire: