Two years after Grenfell and 60,000 people are still living in fear - USA DAILY NEWS

Two years after Grenfell and 60,000 people are still living in fear

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In the wake of the Grenfell fire Theresa May promised everything would be done to prevent another such disaster.

The Government would do whatever it takes to “keep people safe,” she said.

Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of the fire that cost the lives of 72 people.

Two years on tens of thousands of people are still living in unsafe buildings, families are still waiting to the rehoused and fire service funding has been cut.

That is why the Daily Mirror has launched its “Grenfell, Never Again” campaign.

We are calling for dangerous cladding to be removed from all buildings, the reversal of cuts to fire authorities, sprinklers to be fitted if deemed advisable, an independent regulator to champion tenants’ rights and for an independent authority to oversee the fire service.



June 14 marks the second anniversary of the fire that cost the lives of 72 people

 

Grenfell United’s Karim Mussilhy told the Mirror: “It’s unbelievable that in modern Britain, two years after Grenfell, people are still living in homes that are not fit and buildings that are not safe.”

The Government’s own figures show that there are still 328 high rise and public buildings still clad in the same aluminium composite (ACM) material used on Grenfell Tower.

This includes 265 residential blocks, 29 hotels and 27 student accommodation buildings.

A further 1,700 buildings, including 340 high rises, are clad in other potentially combustible buildings such as high pressure laminate.



The remains of residential tower block Grenfell Tower

This includes 1,300 buildings like hospitals, care homes, schools and hotels that have flammable exteriors but are not high rises.

The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government says ACM cladding has been removed from 105 buildings since the fire.

Grenfell survivors have warned that a “Grenfell Two” is “in the post” because of the Government’s failure to act.

Two years after the fire some former residents are still waiting for a permanent home.

Of the 202 households from Grenfell, 14 remain in temporary accommodation.

Fire safety regulations have not been updated and their call for an independent regulator to protect tenants remains unanswered.



The shrouded remains of Grenfell Tower

“The problem is that it has become increasingly clear than in most cases, those in power simply aren’t interested in acting on our concerns,” said Grenfell United, which represents survivors, in a briefing published to mark the second anniversary of the tragedy.

In the wake of the deadly fire in Lakanal House, south London, in 2013 the coroner wrote to the then Communities Secretary Eric Pickles recommending the government encourage the retrofitting of sprinklers in high-rise flats.

Despite the call only 32 out of 837 council-run tower blocks above 30m (98ft) have sprinklers and only 105 of the 673 new build schools.

In the last three years every single fire authority has seen a cut in the amount it receives in central government funding.

In 2016-17, the government spent £1,013million on fire services. But in 2019-20, it will only spend £858million.

The cuts range from 11% in Greater Manchester to 42% in Warwickshire. In Manchester this has seen the number of its firefighters cut by 35%.



In the last three years every single fire authority has seen a cut in the amount it receives in central government funding

1 Remove inflammable cladding from all tower blocks and public buildings.

Two years on from the Grenfell Tower fire the same aluminium composite (ACM) cladding is still on 328 residential and public buildings (265 residential, 29 hotels, 27 student accommodation, 7 health buildings).

A further 1,700 buildings, including 340 high rises, are clad in other potentially combustible buildings such as high pressure laminate.

This includes 1,300 buildings like hospitals, care homes, schools and hotels that have flammable exteriors but are not high rises.

2 Retrofit sprinklers in high rises and schools

Grenfell has exposed a number of safety issues in blocks across the country, including non-compliant fire doors and lack of sprinklers in blocks.

The Coroner’s report into the deadly 2013 Lakanal House fire recommended sprinklers should be retrofitted into all social housing.

Only 32 out of 837 council tower blocks above 30m (98ft) have sprinklers and only 105 of the 673 new build schools.

We urgently need all blocks to be made safe, including fitting or upgrading fire safety doors. The Mirror believes sprinklers should be retrofitted when deemed necessary by a risk assessment.

3 Ensure tenants are given a real voice

Grenfell tenants say their concerns about the cheap materials used in the refurbishment were ignored by Kensington and Chelsea council.

We need a new, independent housing regulator with real powers to protect tenants and put people before profits.

The Freedom of Information Act should be extended to include tenants’ management organisations (TMOs) and housing associations.

Tenants’ right should be strengthened and democratically-elected groups should be given a direct say on the running and upkeep of their buildings to counter the lobbying by the construction industry.

4 Reverse the cuts to the firefighter numbers and Fire Safety Officers

In 2016-17, the government spent £1,013m on fire services. But in 2019-20, it will only spend £858m.

Every single fire authority has seen the amount it receives in central government funding cut in the last three years.

The cuts range from 11% in Greater Manchester to 42% in Warwickshire.

In Manchester this has seen the number of its firefighters cut by 35%.

The number of fire safety officers has fallen from 924 in 2011 to 680 in 2017.

Not surprisingly, the number of inspections has fallen from 84,575 audits in England in 2010-11 rot 63,210 in 2015-16 – a fall of 25%.

5 New independent national body to oversee standards and best practices in fire service across the country

The fragmentation of the fire service means there is no national body to oversee fire and rescue service and fire policy.

A new independent national body should be set up with oversight of all fire service professionals, including the FBU, fire chiefs, fire engineers, and fire researchers.

This means standards vary across authorities and lessons are not being learned. Minimum standards should be set for response times and crewing levels.

The number of fire safety officers has fallen from 924 in 2011 to 680 in 2017.

As a result, the number of inspections has fallen from 84,575 audits in England in 2010-11 to 63,210 in 2015-16 – a fall of 25%.

The FBU says there should a new independent authority to oversee the fire service and minimum standards set for crewing and response times.

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “After a decade of austerity, the fire and rescue service is hanging by a thread.

“With slowing response times and massive cuts to firefighter jobs, a sprinkler system, where appropriate, could make the crucial difference, saving a building from complete destruction.“

“Warnings from residents of unsafe conditions at Grenfell fell on deaf ears. Grenfell was a tragedy born from years of neglect and a community abandoned by the political establishment.



The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan is backing the Mirror’s campaign

“We need to end the persistent brutal cuts to the fire and rescue service.

“One in five firefighter jobs have been slashed, fire stations have been closed and crewing levels have been reduced. Resources have been stretched thin, leaving communities exposed.

“Fire safety officers are essential to catching dangerous fire risks early on. Massive cuts to their numbers and creeping interventions from the private sector are leaving risks like those at Grenfell unnoticed.”

Campaign group Justice4Grenfell was set up in the chaotic days following the tragedy, and is working to provide justice for the bereaved, survivors, those evacuated and the wider community.

Backing the Mirror campaign, group co-ordinator Yvette Williams said: “It’s the second anniversary of the fire at Grenfell Tower.

“We have got a delay in the inquiry and no recommendations for change have been made – and there are things that should be done urgently to save further loss of life.

“The things the Daily Mirror is raising around the removal of cladding, the installation of sprinklers and the need for resources for the fire service are urgent needs and need to be implemented now rather than waiting another one or two years down the line.

“This does not just effect the Grenfell community but has an impact across the entire nation.”



Sign our petition below

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan , also backed the Mirror’s campaign.

He said: “Two years on from the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, the Government’s lack of action is utterly shameful: the local community feels ignored, there are still people whose homes were destroyed living in emergency and temporary accommodation, and building regulations are still unfit for purpose.

“Residents in blocks of flats across London and the rest of the country continue to live in fear that their homes are unsafe. I welcome the Mirror’s campaign to hold ministers to account and urge them to adopt these changes.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “There is nothing more important than supporting those affected by the Grenfell Tower tragedy and making sure the lessons are learnt so this never happens again.

“We’ve allocated £600milion for the removal and replacement of dangerous ACM cladding on high-rise homes and are working with councils to ensure this work is completed.

“We have issued unambiguous advice to building owners 18 months ago to reinforce existing building safety requirements and tell building owners what to do to make sure their cladding system is safe. This advice was updated in December 2018.”



We have launched our Grenfell New Again campaign

Our petition demands

1 Remove inflammable cladding from all tower blocks and public buildings.

2 Retrofit sprinklers in high rises and schools

3 Ensure tenants are given a real voice

4 Reverse the cuts to the firefighter numbers and Fire Safety Officers

5 New independent national body to oversee standards and best practices in fire service across the country.

Sign the petition: Grenfell Never Again: Keep our buildings safe

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