Thursday, 15 June 2017

Austerity and Tory cost-cutting behind blaze in London

Grenfell Tower blaze – on the back of Tory austerity

This story has resonance allover the world, especially in countries like New Zealand where there is privitisation and cost-cutting across the board. In New Zealand tenants are being chucked out of social housing often (in Auckland) onto the streets while state houses are demolished to make way for housing for those with lots of money.

Listen to this account from a resident who makes it clear how easily the fire spread because of external cladding that was designed to improve the view for surrounding luxury apartments.

It also turns out that the plan is to demolish existing housing to make way for luxury accomodation.

NOT an accident.

The BBC definitely on't be rebroadcasting the following (and not because of the colourful language!)  

LIsten to this account by going HERE (I shall repost when I can)

There are some important points here

The Grenfell Tower Fire is ABSOLUTELY a political issue

The folk at UK Column have some salient points about Tory cost-cutting and the tenant associations that became with privitisation bcame “tenant management committees”

This shows how the Tories sat on reports that were predicting just this sort of outcome.

Tories sat on tower block fire safety report for 4 years

It's not fair to blame Gavin Barwell alone for the shocking lack of government action on the damning fire safety report he sat on, after all, he was only the latest in a succession of Tory housing ministers who failed to act on the report recommendations.

The report was produced after the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell cost the lives of six residents. It recommended the instillation of sprinklers in 4,000 tower blocks across the United Kingdom and was completed in 2013.

Ever since then 
successive Tory housing ministers have fobbed off these fire safety concerns by saying they're looking into it. Theresa May's newly promoted Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell succeeded Brandon Lewis, Kris Hopkins and Mark Prisk who also sat on the report.

The deadly fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington is exactly the kind of incident the ignored report was intended to prevent.
The #fire is now spread to the other side. Ash falling in front of my window down. #GrenfellTower#Kensington #london #PrayersForGrenfell
— ✯ Natalie ✯ (@Natalie_Oxford) June 14, 2017
Aside from the parliamentary report into tower block fire safety measures, there is also the heartbreaking blog post from the Grenfell residents' group warning about the lack of fire safety measures in the block and the fact that residents had actually been advised to remain inside their properties in the case of fire, which would certainly have cost residents their lives given the size of the fire.

This kind of fire safety negligence from the building management is certain to be prosecuted, but no doubt Tories like Gavin Barwell and his predecessors will be allowed to get away with their role in this tragedy.

Had they acted on the report instead of sitting on it for 4 years, surely the negligent building owners would have had to have acted to comply with any new fire safety laws.

It seems Barwell and his predecessors will get away with it in much the same way as Theresa May and Amber Rudd are being allowed to get away with letting two avoidable terrorist incidents happen on their watch. Manchester Arena happened because an Islamist extremist who was known to be plotting a terrorist attack against the UK was allowed to pass unhindered through the UK border, then left unwatched as he planned and executed his depraved attack. The ringleader of the second was such a well known extremist that he'd been featured in a TV show called "The Jihadists next door".

This shockingly indifferent Tory attitude to public safety costs lives. But they're only the lives of 
"the lower orders" so Tories simply don't care. If the report had detailed how the Houses of Parliament were a deadly fire trap (rather than 4,000 tower blocks across the UK) do you honestly think they'd have done nothing but sit on the report for four years until parliament burned down with them inside it?

Of course not, because in their minds they are important, and we're just disposable plebs. If they died in a fire or a terrorist attack it would be a terrible tragedy, if we die in a fire or a terrorist attack it would be an unfortunate incident that doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things because there are plenty more ordinary plebs to replace us.

Gavin Barwell and his Housing minister predecessors need to be questioned immediately about how this tower block fire safety report came to be sat on for 4 years.

Grenfell Action Group warned of a catastrophic fire at tower on fire in West London

An action group at a west London tower block ravaged by fire have said their warnings fell on ‘deaf ears’ after highlighting safety concerns about the block.
The cause of the blaze at the Grenfell tower, north Kensington, is not known, but a blog post from the Grenfell Action Group from November 2016 said ‘only a catastrophic event’ would expose issues residents had.
Huge fire hits Grenfell Tower with dozens feared missing in west London
Several hundred people would have been in the block when the fire was reported at 1.15am on Wednesday, while 30 have been taken to hospital.
The group said there was one entry and exit to Grenfell Tower during improvement works at the block in Latimer Road and it had issues with evacuation procedures at the building.
Following the fire, the group posted: ‘All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.’
The group claimed access to the building was ‘severely restricted’ for emergency services and other vehicles and that residents were advised to stay in their flats in case of fire.
On a blog, the action group wrote seven months ago: ‘Unfortunately, the Grenfell Action Group have reached the conclusion that only an incident that results in serious loss of life of [Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation] residents will allow the external scrutiny to occur that will shine a light on the practices that characterise the malign governance of this non-functioning organisation.’
Some residents have complained about the cladding that had been put on the outside of the building, which used to be concrete.
A significant number of people are unaccounted for and dozens of people have been taken to hospital.

The external cladding recently fitted to the tragic Grenfell Tower was a well-known fire risk before the cladding was fitted.
The tower building had been over-clad with Aluminium Composite Material cassette rainscreen, which has been blamed for several tower fires around the world, including in Australia and the UAE.

The company responsible for fitting the cladding – Harley Curtain Wall Ltd – went into administration shortly after fitting the panels. However, directors of the company continue to trade under a slightly different name, Harley Facades Ltd.

It has also been revealed that Grenfell Tower residents had been complainingabout fire risks for some time before the tragic fire.

It seems the owners of the tower, Kensington and Chelsea council, have a lot of questions that will need to be answered

Material would help make the flats look better from outside, planners noted

The design of Grenfell Tower might have helped the deadly fire that ripped through it spread, according to experts.

The building was covered in cladding that spread the fire quickly up the entire 24-storey building, according to architects and firefighters.

"The cladding was clearly spreading the fire," said Mike Penning, a Conservative MP who worked as a firefighter and then fire minister. "We need to find out what went on."

From 2014, the cuts...

Firefighters cry as 10 London stations including Clerkenwell close due to cuts

There were emotional scenes as firestations across the capital closed their doors

It is Tory PM-hopeful and mayor of London (and author of austerity), Boris Johnson should be out on his ear (or worse)

Does the arrogance of Tories know no bounds?

Video has emerged of then-London Mayor Boris Johnson defending his cuts to fire services in London before a fire-safety panel of London Assembly Members.

When challenged to explain how cutting fire stations, firefighter positions, fire safety officers could possibly not put the lives of London residents at risk, Johnson at first tries to defend the indefensible by simply asserting that his recklessness works and improves safety.
Then, when challenged further, he tells a Labour AM,
"Oh get stuffed".

Johnson was warned from all sides. The Tories were warned from all sides. They now have the deaths and terrible injuries of innocent people on their hands.
And it seems they don’t care a toss.

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