HUNDRED people took part in a silent march around Grenfell Tower yesterday – to remind the public that, two months after the fire, there remains much to be done and many questions still need answers.
Residents came as they were – some in wheelchairs, some on crutches. They carried placards demanding that the truth about how Grenfell Tower became a fire trap be made public – quickly. They walked from the skeletal Grenfell Tower – the mass grave in the sky – to Ladbroke Grove, to a memorial wall which has been established.
Immediately after the fire, residents pointed out they had been warning of the fire risks for years. They called for a new approach: “listen to residents”. They are still calling.
The terms of reference of he Grenfell Tower inquiry have been published now. It will examine whether building regulations were adequate, the tower’s refurbishment and the response to the fire. Campaigners have criticised the announcement that it will not look at public policy on social housing – as has the Labour Party, which says that this has been done to avoid any criticism of the Government coming to light. Theresa May has threatened to deal with the policy issues by meeting some social housing tenants.
Already residents’ groups have passed a vote of no confidence in the Tenants Management Organisation (TMO) which runs housing in Kensington & Chelsea. An open letter to the Leader of the Council, written by the leaders of 16 Tenants and Residents Associations in the borough, has asked the council to listen to residents and end its contract with the TMO.
A spokesperson for the Council said that it was “looking at its options” for the future management of its housing stock. That would include the option of the TMO continuing to manage the stock – and other options. Of course, concluded the spokesperson – they will consult residents, the TMO and “other potential housing partners” before taking a decision.
The Council is listening. It’s hearing nothing.