Action in solidarity with Grenfell survivors

On 22 November, the Revolutionary Communist Group held its third public meeting since the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in June this year. The meeting was held at the Maxilla Social Club in north Kensington. This venue has opened its doors to every kind of gathering for the last six months and we would like to thank Joe Walsh for his kindness and support.

Of course, this is not the only meeting place. Notting Hill Methodist Church is a centre of support for the neighbourhood. So too is a large area under the railway bridge and Westway overpass, opposite the burnt-out Grenfell Tower. This has been cleaned and furnished as a permanent social space. It was established by local people as an area of remembrance and for candle-lit vigils. It has a huge Wall of Truth with statements from the community, a Garden of Remembrance, refreshments, seating, warm clothes, pianos and a library as well as an altar and several large and beautifully painted murals.

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Haringey Labour ‘left’ fails to dent progress of HDV

hdv haringey

The judicial review of the Haringey Development Vehicle (HDV) started on 26 October 2017. HDV is a private joint venture between Haringey Council in north London and Australian developers Lendlease to parcel up vast tracts of council-owned land and assets worth £2bn for private development. A final ruling is expected before the end of the 2017.

The local StopHDV campaign initiated the judicial review, questioning the way that the HDV was set up. Thousands of council homes and public resources, including Wood Green library, would be lost under the plan. There has been no meaningful consultation with local residents: the Labour council has made it clear it will ignore Jeremy Corbyn’s call for them to be balloted over redevelopment plans.

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Racism permeates housing at every level

racism letting agencies

The systemic racism which Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people1 face throughout the housing sector in Britain is typically not reported. When racism does receive media attention, it is often only the prejudices of private landlords which are judged to be of public interest. Media outlets followed the story of the notorious Fergus Wilson, owner of hundreds of properties in Kent, who recently lost his court case against the Equality and Human Rights Commission for instructing his letting agents not to accept Indian or Pakistani applicants (Sky News, 8 November 2017). A three-year injunction was handed down – a slap on the wrist. But discrimination by landlords is only part of the story, as shown by the government's own Race Disparity Audit, published in October 2017.

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Rotten Boroughs - Newham Labour council leads the way

rotten boroughs

Newham Council in east London – where the Focus E15 campaign is based – has been run by Labour for the last 50 years, since the borough was formed. It is now, according to Debt Resistance UK, the ‘debt capital’ of Britain.

Research published by Debt Resistance UK shows that in the last five years, total financial council reserves have risen 67% across the capital. Meanwhile, the number of people forced off housing benefit has risen by 20%, and there has been a rise of 250% of people being placed out of borough for housing and a 230% increase in street homelessness.

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Grenfell Fire - Getting away with murder

grenfell council

On 6 November 2017 the task force set up by the government in the wake of the appalling fire at Grenfell Tower in west London published its interim report. It is scathing in its criticism of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) which, it says, completely ‘failed its community on the night of 14 June and the months following’. It describes a historic relationship between the council and the working class community of north Kensington as at best ‘distant’ and at worst one of neglect, and says that this is reflected in the continuing poor treatment of survivors and the wider community. Most of all, the report lambasts the ‘painfully slow’ rate at which survivors of the Grenfell fire have been rehoused. By the beginning of November – nearly five months after the fire – just 26 households had been found permanent homes. The vast majority of the remaining 177 households, including 226 children, are still stuck in woefully inadequate emergency accommodation – B&Bs, hostels and hotels; a few dozen are in temporary housing. Jack Lukacs reports.

RBKC still has most of its near £300m reserves in the bank. No criminal charges have been brought against any member of the council or the management organisation that oversaw the cut-price and lethal refurbishment of the tower, and the public inquiry into the disaster has pushed back the date at which it expects to publish an interim report still further into 2018. Any form of justice for the Grenfell survivors seems as far away as ever. The local community has from day one been just about the only force to organise consistent support, counselling, art projects and legal assistance for survivors – but political support for their demands seems to have melted away. Kensington and Chelsea council and the KCTMO are being allowed, quite literally, to get away with murder.

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