- Created: Friday, 21 July 2017 13:14
- Written by Cat Wiener
A month after the horrific fire at Grenfell Tower that killed so many people and devastated the lives of hundreds more, survivors and local residents continue to be failed by the local council, by the government, by support services and by national agencies. It is an outrage that only a handful of families have so far been offered adequate and safe accommodation in the borough; that many are still being moved around from hotel to hotel; that those who have refused unsafe and unacceptable temporary accommodation are told they will be classified as ‘intentionally homeless’. It is completely unacceptable that despite Kensington and Chelsea council and KCTMO signing off on shoddy, cheap and unsafe refurbishment at Grenfell that did not meet fire regulations, no criminal charges have been brought against anyone for the social murder of men, women and children. The disaster at Grenfell was a direct result of negligence, incompetence and contempt for working class people living in the borough.
At every level, the response of the government and Kensington and Chelsea council has been woeful. The majority of people have still not been housed, questions have not been answered, benefits have been messed up, energy supplies have taken weeks to sort out. There is no guarantee that the Public Inquiry announced by the government will provide any answers or meet residents’ demands for justice. The judge appointed to lead it, Martin Moore-Bick, is best known for deciding it was lawful for Westminster council to decant a homeless single mother to temporary accommodation hundreds of miles away. He has already made it clear his terms of reference will be limited.
The only guarantee of justice for those affected by the Grenfell fire will be the people’s own anger and self-organisation which we’ve already seen in action challenging the council, the police and the inquiry judge. The Revolutionary Communist Group supports the demands that have been made:
- Adequate, safe housing at social rents for the survivors of the fire. The council needs to requisition the many empty properties in the borough – the richest in London – to ensure residents are properly and immediately housed and a social space must be opened to allow local community self-organisation. If the council refuses to open up these spaces, then the people should do it.
- Criminal charges to be brought against council officers and the executive of KCTMO for their roles in turning Grenfell Tower into a death trap.
- A People’s Inquiry, led by the community, with a working class jury, must investigate the fire.
- Rehousing and compensation for all residents of Grenfell Tower must be arranged regardless of immigration or housing status. No immigration checks.
Decent housing is a human right!
Meanwhile, across London, there are many more ‘disasters waiting to happen’. London councils – both Conservative or Labour – have neglected, demolished and sold off publicly owned homes on a mass scale. Many people have been forced into unsafe, overcrowded private rented accommodation; others have been driven out of London altogether through a process of social cleansing. As long as the drive for private profits dominates the housing sector, there will be more tragedies like Grenfell. The contempt for the needs of working class people, for the poor, for migrants, that created that tragedy are being repeated in boroughs like Lambeth, Haringey, Croydon, Newham, Southwark and Hackney. Grenfell must be a wake-up call to all those fighting for decent housing against vicious, arrogant councils and politicians. We must build our struggle against this barbaric, crisis-ridden system that has claimed so many lives.