Saturday, 15 December, 2018

Grenfell Tower fire survivors 'still being charged rent'

There is a national safety operation to identify buildings with cladding like that used on the Grenfell Tower block in north Kensington There is a national safety operation to identify buildings with cladding like that used on the Grenfell Tower block in north Kensington
Stacy Diaz | 02 July, 2017, 16:55

A government minister has called for the abolition of Kensington and Chelsea council after its disastrous response to the Grenfell Tower fire, saying London should be run like NY instead.

The government's response came as the crisis deepened over who should be held accountable for the 80 deaths in the blaze.

The Government has warned that directly appointed commissioners could take over Kensington and Chelsea council and said it would keep "a close eye" on proceedings following the Grenfell Tower disaster. But installing commissioners there would place the fire tower crisis even closer to May and her Conservative party.

The three buildings, in Barandon Walk, Testerton Walk and Hurstway have been without hot water since the neighbourhood's boiler, located beneath Grenfell Tower, was destroyed in the fire.

But Khan argued that all members of the council were tainted by its response to the disaster.

But communities secretary Sajid Javid, a Conservative minister whose department supervises the borough, said now was not the time for the central government to get directly involved. "If we don't get good terms of reference for the public inquiry and we don't get a wide remit so that those people can take responsibility for what they've done, then we won't participate in it".

The Kensington and Chelsea Tenants' Management Organization, which managed the social housing block for the council, said its management board had agreed that Robert Black "should step aside from his role as chief executive of KCTMO in order that he can concentrate on assisting with the investigation and inquiry".

It follows the Grenfell Tower tragedy which left dozens dead and hundreds more without homes
It follows the Grenfell Tower tragedy which left dozens dead and hundreds more without homes

The council's decision not to charge them rent follows an outcry after it was claimed that at least one Grenfell resident was still having rent for their burned-out flat deducted from their bank account. Yet it sits alongside the affluent enclaves of Notting Hill and Holland Park, home to investment bankers and corporate managers.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has since called for the government to appoint independent commissioners to run the council until new elections can take place.

Political experts understood why May declined to appoint new council leaders.

Paget-Brown, who had resisted calls to quit in the two weeks since the blaze, stepped aside after May criticized him for abandoning a meeting on the Grenfell Tower fire because journalists were present.

The statement says: "The High Court ruled that the meeting should be open and we would have expected the council to respect that".

In his resignation statement, Mr Paget-Brown acknowledged the council had been criticised for "failing to answer all the questions that people have" but that the scale of the tragedy "was always going to mean that one borough alone would never have sufficient resources to respond to all the needs of the survivors and those made homeless, on its own".

The report comes after the council on Thursday abruptly ended its first meeting since the disaster because reporters were present.