Grenfell Tower: ‘Dismissive’ treatment of residents is a ‘disgrace’, London mayor Sadiq Khan tells public inquiry
Written by Hitmix News on 30 March 2021
The “dismissive” treatment of Grenfell Tower residents and their concerns about fire safety was a “total failure” and “disgrace”, the mayor of London has said.
Grenfell’s owners Kensington and Chelsea Council and managers Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Association (TMO) showed an “institutional indifference” to people living in social housing, Sadiq Khan said.
Giving evidence to the public inquiry into the 2017 fire, Mr Khan said officials “manipulated” the complaints procedure by failing to record tenants’ concerns and treating them like “troublemakers”.
“The mayor of London wishes to make clear that he regards the dismissive treatment of the tenants of Grenfell Tower when they were making justifiable and, as it turned out, prophetic complaints to be a disgrace,” a written statement said.
Image: Residents’ complaints were not recorded or taken seriously, Mr Khan claims
“The conduct of the TMO towards the residents of Grenfell Tower demonstrates a total failure in ensuring that Grenfell Tower was a safe place to live.”
This week the public inquiry is examining the issues of social housing management, risk assessments of the tower block and how tenants’ criticisms were handled.
Anne Studd QC, representing Mr Khan at the inquiry, claimed that when residents called to make a complaint, the phone conversations were not recorded.
They were “therefore not acted upon as all knowledge of them was denied,” she said.
This went against TMO policy and discriminated against residents’ whose English was not strong enough to file complaints in writing, Ms Studd added.
Mr Khan demanded that the inquiry now “provide answers as to why residents’ complaints, inquiries and questions were not appropriately answered” and “why no one took responsibility for this building being so dangerous in the event of a fire”.
He said that with no expertise in fire safety, tenants were easily able to identify significant risks, which led to the fire that killed 72 people.
Image: This week the inquiry focuses on social housing management in the block
Also giving evidence, Martin Seaward, counsel for the Fire Brigades Union, said there were no firefighter lifts.
He also revealed firefighters were unable to take control of the lifts on the night as the switch was blocked by builders’ debris.
Mr Seaward said fire teams should have been able to stop anyone from using the lifts, but instead three people are believed to have died after getting in one on the 11th floor and exiting on the level below.
Mr Khan’s comments came as he admitted the “trust and confidence of women and girls in the police and justice system is far from adequate” following the handling of Sarah Everard vigils on Clapham Common this month.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) today ruled that Met Police officers had acted “appropriately” when they arrested several protesters at the scene.