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Anorak | After Grenfell: 600 deathtraps, party political boomerangs and another lousy inquiry

After Grenfell: 600 deathtraps, party political boomerangs and another lousy inquiry

by | 23rd, June 2017

News is that Grenfell Tower was not the only building swaddled in flammable cladding. The Sun leads with “600 Fire Traps”. It sees “thousands of families living in fear” that what happened in North Kensington could happen to their home. Eleven building in eight local authorities have been tested by the Government so far, including those, says the paper, in the London borough of Camden, which just happens to be a council under Labour control. So much for the narrative about only people in jeans, double-vent jackets and brogues placing the poor in danger. The Sun is happy to point out when a horror comes along and upsets all the pieces on the board, playing party politics with the dead is a campaigning boomerang.

Theresa May does not murder children. Jeremy Corbyn does not value life more or less than other party leaders. Using the dead for a political campaign is sick. I’m sure among the enlightened and knowing screaming about justice for Grenfell and Tory child killers it’s a monumental order of self-restraint not to revisit Guy Fawkes’ old plot.

 

 

On page 5, the Sun tells us of the 4,800 residents in five Camden council tower blocks who can’t sleep for fear of a blaze. The “killer cladding” was installed by Rydon, the same company that worked on Grenfell Tower.

Over in the Mirror, the front-page news is also of thousands more people “living in deathtraps”. We hear from Labour’s Harriet Harman, who calls the news “chilling”. It too mentions Camden Council, and looks at the Rivers Apartments in Tottenham, London, where the building is wrapped in the same “lethal material” as Grenfell. In Camden, the council has ordered the cladding on the Chalcots Estate to be stripped immediately. The paper does not mention that Camden Council is under Labour control. It does, however, remind readers that the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea is under Tory control, and that its hapless leader has resigned.

 

 

In the Express, Grenfell and cladding becomes something to do with illegal immigration. Ross Clark agrees that any illegal immigrants who survived Grenfell Tower should not be prosecuted but his bleeding heart swiftly dries like camel spit. No-one wants to be an illegal immigrant, dead or both. But he tells us that illegal immigration is a health and safety issue because lots of them live in sub-let council flats. Presumably, the way around this is to flush them out with random spot-cheques and drills. All for their own good, of course. The Grenfell Towers disaster, he notes, “might not have been caused by overcrowding” – no might about it, Ross, it wasn’t – “but unless we investigate properly the living conditions there, then sooner or later we are going to have similar tragedies caused by having people crammed into unsuitable housing.”

As the Express looks to rehousing the poor and displaced in better accommodation – i.e. a prison before deportation – the Mail sees the “GREAT EVACUATION”, saying that thousands of tenants in the 600 infected towers may have to move out.

Of course, the exact cause of the inferno that destroyed Grenfell Tower on 14 June remains to be discovered. But, yes, you’d want to move out if you lived in a tower block with questionable safety standards.

So they move out into temporary accommodation, the contractors move in, the council wonks say “lessons have been learned” and thank sheer luck that Grenfell never happened on their patch – and then what?

Right now the feeling is not that we need more legislation, but that building companies and clockwork councils need to better observe rules already in place. They should employ more common sense and gut-feeling in jobs that have been reduced to box-ticking. A disaster on this scale could have been prevented had people in power listened to the warnings. The cladding changed the building. But who was looking into how cladding affected fire risk and fire control? Nothing exits in isolation. In focusing on the cladding, the councils are not considering the bigger picture: who oversees the whole thing not just the micro-management? Who wasn’t listening to Grenfell Tower’s residents when they campaigned long and hard for their Tenant Management Organisation to address their concerns? Instinct and local knowledge were ignored. Removing faddish and dangerous cladding won’t alter that.

And then there’s the ubiquitous inquiry. Over the need for quick action and addressing the concerns of people who live in their flats and know them best, politicians franchise action to a body not accountable to the public. And nothing changes.

 



Posted: 23rd, June 2017 | In: Key Posts, News, Reviews, Tabloids Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink