JUSTICE FOR GRENFELL – KEEPING THE FAITH

The Silent Walk last Saturday was the 10th such monthly walk since the tragedy at Grenfell Tower in June last year. Understandably some, perhaps more than a few, among the survivors, the bereaved and the wider Lancaster West community have grown cynical about the prospects of ever achieving the justice for Grenfell that we all crave so much.

The purpose of today’s blog will be to try to reassure those who are troubled by doubt that there is still reason to hope and believe that justice will eventually be served.

Some have complained that, after ten months of investigation, the police have not yet made a single arrest. Such criticism is understandable and the absence of arrests is certainly frustrating, but we believe it is important to remember, at these moments of doubt, the sheer scale of the task the police are faced with. We can also testify that, in giving our evidence, we were left in no doubt by the detectives we were working with that they are deadly serious about the investigation and will leave no stone unturned in their determination to deliver justice to our community.

Detective Chief Superintendant Fiona McCormack, who is leading the police operation said:

“The investigation into what happened at Grenfell Tower is a priority for the Met and we are determined to find the answers that so many desperately seek. The distress and suffering caused to so many families and loved ones that night is harrowing. That night people lost their homes, all their possessions and tragically their families and loved ones.

“Outside of counter-terrorism investigations, this is the biggest investigation the Metropolitan Police Service is currently undertaking and the scale is huge. This is a massive investigation and it will take a long time. But we only get one chance to investigate and it is important that things are done properly”.

According to a BBC report from January the investigation is one of the biggest and most complex in the force’s history. About 200 officers, drawn from across the Met, are working full-time in a variety of roles including family liaison, search teams, statement-takers and exhibits officers. So far 2,332 witness statements have been taken.

The investigation is largely focussed on the construction, refurbishment and management of the tower as well as the emergency services’ response. A total of 670 firefighters that were involved in the rescue effort have been identified, 340 police officers and a similar number of ambulance staff. Statements are being taken from all of these and police video from 340 body worn cameras has been downloaded and has all been viewed.

Police had initially identified 60 companies that were involved in the construction, refurbishment or management of Grenfell Tower. That number has now grown to 336 different organisations. Each is being contacted to establish exactly what their role was.

Where that role is considered relevant, digital downloads of all business records are being recovered. So far, in excess of 31 million documents have been recovered and it is anticipated that number will increase. Specialist software is being used to enable officers to process and search the millions of documents in order to identify any relevant material that may be used evidentially at a later stage.

The forensic examination of the tower is ongoing and includes photographing and documenting every room on every floor, paying particular attention to fire safety provisions such as fire doors, the standards of construction work, the routing of pipework and smoke extraction systems. After that, there will be a series of further forensic tests including reconstructions. Only after that work is compete will officers be in a position to fully understand what happened, what went wrong and what questions need to be answered. The most recent official progress report described the investigation as unprecedented in its scale and complexity and estimated that it is likely to take at least until next autumn to complete.

It is unclear whether any suspects have yet been interviewed in relation to offences under investigation which potentially include fraud, misconduct (including misconduct in public office), health and safety breaches, breaches of fire safety regulations and both corporate and individual manslaughter. If such interviews have not yet begun then they soon will be.

Meanwhile the demands on police resources have left the Met facing huge additional costs because of the complexity of the investigation. Consequently Scotland Yard has requested an additional £38 million from the government to help pay for it – this will include £11.1 million for overtime hours already worked by detectives. A Home Office spokesperson said: “Given the unique and tragic circumstances of this event, we will consider this application as a matter of priority.” The additional funding request will, however, have to be approved by ministers.  Unsurprisingly we could find no record of a government decision having yet been taken on additional funding for the Grenfell investigation.

As we said in our introduction the point of this particular blog is to try to reassure and encourage the many who are desperately hoping that justice will be delivered for those who perished in the fire, for those who survived but continue to suffer, in whatever ways, and for the entire Lancaster West community which has had the heart ripped out of it in a very real sense.

We have tried to do this by presenting the most accurate and up-to-date statistics we could find to illustrate how massive and complex the police investigation is, and to emphasise that it is likely to take a considerable time to complete. We have not commented on the Public Inquiry, mainly because we have little or no idea of what we can realistically expect from that quarter, but also because we are mindful that the conclusions the Inquiry reaches are likely to be significantly influenced by the outcome of the police investigation

Finally, in writing this piece we intend no criticism of any one of the many local groups that represent, each in its own way, the Grenfell community, nor do we intend to suggest a preference for any particular group. What we earnestly and genuinely hope is that all  groups will continue to work together in a spirit of mutual support and collaboration in the pursuit of justice and for the good of all.

KEEP THE FAITH, SISTERS AND BROTHERS!

 

Posted in Uncategorized

The Grenfell Cladding System – Secrets And Lies

According to recent press reports the cladding and insulation system used in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower was never subject to legally required fire safety tests. It was reported in The Times on 7th February and The Independent the following day, that no record of independent testing had been found by any of the three separate investigations into the Grenfell fire. It is claimed that neither the government’s expert panel on fire safety, the Metropolitan Police Investigation, or the review of building regulations by Dame Judith Hackitt had found any evidence of such testing.

It is also believed that the same potentially applies with regard to 299 other high-rise buildings in England that use similar cladding and insulation, including at least nine hospitals, 160 social housing blocks, 31 student residences, 13 public buildings and 95 private residential blocks.

The Times quoted a source with knowledge of the investigations saying;

“The question that has to be asked is how on earth did this material come to be installed on all of those buildings. Somehow or other, those materials have got on to 300 buildings without any tests being done or test results being produced.”

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/cladding-at-grenfell-and-hundreds-of-housing-blocks-was-never-tested-0h6cjc3tn

The refurbishment of Grenfell Tower, in which 72 innocemt victims lost their lives in a raging inferno on 14th June last year, was signed off by building control managers at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in 2016. However, if the reports in the Times and the Independent are correct, the cladding and insulation system never underwent the required mandatory safety testing. Furthermore, Reynobond ACM cladding panels, in combination with Celotex RS5000 PIR insulation, were fitted during a major refurbishment of the block in 2016, neither of which had been approved in the planning consent issued for the works in January 2014. On the contrary the planning consent for the Grenfell project specified ZINC rainscreen cladding (not the aluminium type used) and Celotex FR5000 insulation (not the Celotex RS5000 used).

Sustainability and Energy Statement-952368

It has been widely suggested that the highly flammable cladding and Celotex polyisocyanurate (PIR) insulation foam were major contributors to the rapid and unprecedented spread of the blaze, which killed 72 people in June last year. In light of these revelations we believe that a review of the circumstances under which Rydon were awarded the contract for the Grenfell project should be both informative and intriguing.

https://blog.celotex.co.uk/news/reaching-new-heights-celotex-rs5000/

According to a report prepared for the RBKC Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee in July 2013 Leadbitter, at that time the main contractor for the Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre Project, was also the favored potential contractor for the Grenfell Tower project. Leadbitter, however, submitted an estimate of £11.278 million for the cost of the project. This was £1.6 million above the budget proposed by RBKC and, despite considerable pressure from RBKC to reduce this estimate, Leadbitter insisted they were unable to do so and couldn’t deliver the scheme within the proposed budget. RBKC planners, having tried and failed to pressurise Leadbitter into reducing their bid, instead reverted to an open competitive tendering process for the project. At this point it would appear that either Leadbitter were excluded from the bidding process or had withdrawn from it. Consequently, in February 2014, the contract was awarded to Rydon who had successfully undercut Leadbitter’s estimate by a considerable margin.

Assuming that Leadbitter were genuinely unable to bid within budget while maintaining quality and health and safety standards, this raises questions about how Rydon managed to submit a bid that substantially undercut Leadbitter and all other competitors. Did they achieve this at the expense of quality and essential health and safety considerations, notably by substituting the safer external cladding and insulation specified in the planning application with cheaper, more toxic and flammable alternative cladding and insulation that were responsible for the uniquely rapid spread of the Grenfell fire and led to the needless and totally avoidable loss of 72 lives under the most terrible of circumstances?

Reports in the Times and BBC online news in June 2017 strongly suggest that RBKC were fully aware that under Rydon corners would be cut and health and safety compromised, that they were fully complicit with this strategy and that they had pressurised Rydon and their subcontractors to cut costs wherever possible, regardless of the consequences.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-40453054

On 24 June 2017 Reuters reported on an exchange of six emails sent by and to an Arconic sales manager that raise questions about the supply by Arconic of highly combustible cladding for use at Grenfell Tower, despite having publicly warned the companies concerned that such panels posed a potential fire risk for tall buildings.

The emails, dating from 2014 and seen by Reuters, were between Deborah French, Arconic’s UK sales manager, and executives at the contractors (ie Rydon or their sub-contractors) seeking to procure materials for the planned refurbishment works.

French, who was based at Arconic’s factory in Merxheim, France, responded between May and July 2014 to requests on the availability of samples of five different types of Reynobond aluminium-covered panels, all of which were only available in the combustible PE and FR versions. The company manufactures three main types of Reynobond panel — one with a polyethylene (PE) core, one with a slightly more fire retardant core (FR) and a third with an entirely non-combustible core (A2).

When asked about the emails, Arconic said in a statement that it had known the panels would be used at Grenfell Tower but that it was not its role to decide what was or was not compliant with local building regulations.

A 2016 Arconic brochure for Reynobond panels describes PE core panels as suitable for structures up to 10 metres in height.  According to the same brochure panels with a fire resistant core — the FR model — should be used up to 30 metres, while above that height, panels with the non-combustible core — the A2 model — should only be used.

Nonetheless, between May and July 2014, French responded to requests from the companies involved on the availability of samples of five different types of Reynobond aluminium-covered panels, all of which were only available in the PE and FR versions.

Despite having warned that the combustible Reynobond PE panels were safe to use on high rise buildings only if the insulation material behind the panels was made of non-combustible material such as mineral fibre, Arconic nonetheless supplied the PE panels which were ultimately used with highly combustible Celotex RS5000 insulation.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-fire-arconic/arconic-knowingly-supplied-flammable-panels-for-use-in-tower-emails-idUKKBN19F05C

Whether or not the Arconic PE aluminium cladding used at Grenfell did or did not satisfy the BS standard is ultimately irrelevant because the underlying insulation certainly did not. Behind its shining metal surface, the tower was coated in a 6 inch layer of highly flammable and highly toxic foam insulation (Celotex RS5000) made from a plastic called polyisocyanurate that does not meet the required standard of ‘limited combustibility’. Indeed, according to a special feature published recently by Inside Housing magazine, Detective Superintendent Fiona McCormack, who is overseeing the criminal investigation into the fire, said that the insulation was “more flammable than the cladding”.

https://social.shorthand.com/insidehousing/3CWytp9tQj/the-failure-of-building-regulations-the-paper-trail

If both elements of the insulation system had achieved the limited combustibility standard in separate tests, then a combined test would not have been necessary. However Reynobond PE and Celotex RS5000 did not satisfy the combustibility tests separately. This meant that the two materials combined would need to pass another test known as BS 8414 to show that both materials, when used together, were sufficiently resistant to combustion to satisfy the UK building standard. The BS 8414 test must be commissioned from a government approved independent testing agency. It involves setting a fire under a three-storey mock-up of the proposed wall construction. Without proof that BS 8414 testing had been carried out, the cladding system would not have met building regulations. That proof is apparently not in evidence so the Grenfell cladding system should never have been approved by building control managers at RBKC.

According to Dame Judith Hackitt’s interim report commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government in response to the outcry over the Grenfell fire;

“I have found that the regulatory system for safely designing, constructing and managing buildings is not fit for purpose. The current system of building regulation is highly complex and there is confusion about the roles and responsibilities at each stage. It has become clear that the whole system of regulation is not fit for purpose, leaving room for those who want to take shortcuts to do so.

I have been shocked by some of the practices I have heard about and I am convinced of the need for a new intelligent system of regulation and enforcement for high-rise and complex buildings which will encourage everyone to do the right thing and will hold to account those who try to cut corners.”

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/interim-report-into-the-review-of-building-regulations-and-fire-safety

In our view culpability for the Grenfell fire, and the 72 deaths that resulted, must extend from those responsible for proposing the cladding system that was installed on the exterior of Grenfell Tower, to the local authority for signing off on its use, and the building contractors for fitting such dangerous materials. We also believe that the lack of a rigorous testing regime, despite the considerable known risks, is strongly suggestive of a system bordering on criminal conspiracy at the heart of what are supposedly called “building standards”. These apparently exist not for the protection of the public, but primarily to enable the use of the lowest cost materials and to generate, regardless of the risks to public safety, the maximum possible profits for the construction giants and property speculators.

POSTSCRIPT

While we were still working on this blog and just about to publish it startling new revelations emerged on 5th April that the controversial Celotex PE cladding installed at Grenfell Tower had failed to meet the safety standards originally claimed by its manufacturer Arconic. Fire tests had been secretly carried out by Arconic the year before the cladding was installed at Grenfell, according to a BBC investigation. Arconic,who had commissioned the tests, did not publish the results. Arconic claimed it had informed ‘various customers and certification authorities’ but the British body that certifies building products claimed it had not been notified.

Fire resistant zinc cladding was initially proposed for the £9 million refurbishment in 2012 but was ultimately substituted for a cheaper aluminium and plastic version, at a saving of £293,368. The planning approval issued in January 2014 was based in part on the Sustainability and Energy Statement published in October 2012 as a crucial part of the planning application. It specified the use of zinc rainscreen cladding in combination with Celotex FR insulation, both of which were later substituted for cheaper and highly combustible alternatives in breach of the specifiications in the planning consent.

In standard European tests for fire safety, products are rated A to F, with ‘A’ being the safest. The BBC investigation found tests commissioned by Arconic in 2014 and 2015 produced lower classifications. Cladding classed as ‘riveted’ was tested and classified as ‘C’ in 2014 and 2015. Panels classed as ‘cassette’ – meaning they were shaped before being fitted – were classified as ‘E’.  Both types of panel were reportedly installed at Grenfell.

The BBC spoke to one source, who has worked on major cladding schemes, though not on Grenfell Tower. He said he should have been informed of the new classification results by Arconic and they should have issued an immediate product recall. He added that ‘E’ rated cladding would not have been acceptable for the projects he worked on.

“TO BE BLUNT”, HE SAID, “YOU WOULDN’T PUT ‘E’ ON A DOG KENNEL”

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-43558186

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Joe Delaney – The Second Interview

In this second interview, conducted by Robert Stevens for WSWS on 21 March 2018, Joe Delaney speaks about his initial involvement in tenants housing issues in North Kensington and the Grenfell Action Group, his thoughts on the Grenfell fire and the official public inquiry.

Robert Stevens: How did you get involved in the issues of safe housing and the Grenfell Action Group?

Joe Delaney: Although I’ve lived in the area all my life, I only moved onto the estate in January 2010, so just over seven years before the disaster happened. The reason I got involved with issues on the estate was, not to sound boastful, mainly that my reputation preceded me.

People on the estate came to know that I was someone who could get things done. I could reach parts of the council [The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea] and Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation [KTCMO, who managed Grenfell Tower] that it seemed no one else could and get them to do things. I had the knowledge from working inside councils. It was that reputation that got me in touch with people all over the estate, who were having issues.

I became quite involved with people in Grenfell Tower, particularly when there was the project to demolish and rebuild the sports centre and build the new academy—the Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre (KALC) project.

One of the areas I worked on in councils was procurement. I was heavily scrutinizing the whole procurement process the council was using to commission the KALC project to try and throw any spanners we could into their plans because we could see they were trying to ride roughshod over local people’s wishes, so they needed to be stopped.

That didn’t work, but after work on KALC began there were serious safety issues in the tower, including power surges which blew up people’s electrical equipment. One of the first things I did with the GAG was when RBKC’s solicitor threatened to sue them for libelling the council. I pointed out that the council itself can’t sue for libel, which had been established since a court case in 1993, Derbyshire County Council V Times Newspapers Ltd and Others, that basically established the principle that public bodies should be big enough and strong enough to take any criticism thrown at them and therefore they have no standing to sue for libel.

Francis O’Connor and Ed Daffarn were the people behind the GAG blog, with Francis doing the bulk of the writing, while Ed would be the out-and-about investigator. When I was helping GAG avoid the threats of a libel suit, I helped Francis rewrite certain posts from a legal standpoint and we have pretty much kept in touch since.

Robert Stevens: Can you give some background on the GAG blog posting warning that it would take a “catastrophic event” and a “serious loss of life of KCTMO residents” to expose what the council had done in terms of cuts in fire safety, etc.?

Joe Delaney: That was the post entitled “KCTMO – Playing with fire!” from November 2016. Francis was one of the loudest voices predicting that something like the Grenfell Tower fire was going to happen, but he was not the only voice. This was what people were widely saying at the time, but they were accused by the council of whipping up hysteria. Although Ed and Francis certainly bore the brunt, it was RBKC and the KCTMO’s standard tactic—if you can’t argue against the message then you just try to shoot the messenger.

Robert Stevens: What do you think about the official inquiry into Grenfell? The terms were set last August and it formally opened last September. We’re now six months on and still not a single person has been questioned. It’s still in the procedural stage. The government has ruled out a panel involvement from the local community, so Sir Martin Moore-Bick is in sole charge.

Joe Delaney: I’ve always said that ‘I’m cynically optimistic’ about it; I hope for the best, but also have prepared myself to expect the worst. When it came to the inquiry into the racist killing of Stephen Lawrence, a lot of people felt the same about [Judge William] Macpherson; his beliefs and political outlook meant that he wouldn’t be able to deliver a fair inquiry. He was quite well known to have extreme right-wing, neo-liberal type views. Yet his inquiry gave us a phrase that is associated with that inquiry and resonates to this day—“institutional racism.”

The phrase that I’d like to see outlive this disaster is “institutional indifference,” because that’s how I see it. It’s not that the people in power actively hate people in social housing, or the lower class. It’s that they don’t care about them one way or the other. The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference and that’s how those in power view many in our society. We are an inconvenience and our feelings and needs are not even considered. People don’t worry about how ants will feel if we destroy their ant hill. This is how those with power in our society view those who are directly affected by their decisions. We aren’t even worthy of the passion that hatred requires.
Luke Bisby

The demand of locals is for “a diverse panel,” and the media are trying to misrepresent this by saying that we want some kind of “United colours of Benneton” panel—one white, one black, one brown person on it. That’s not what we mean by diverse! Look at some of the experts that have been appointed to this panel already, like Luke Bisby. He is heavily involved with the Building Research Establishment, which came up with the tests that said that the [Grenfell] cladding was safe to use. We just don’t want people who are industry insiders and have links to organisations whose actions or decisions could be considered involved or even responsible for what happened, to be on this inquiry.

Robert Stevens: Moore-Bick said he won’t address any issues of a social, economic or political nature, and that was agreed with Prime Minister Theresa May. On that basis, how can the inquiry address any of the fundamental questions surrounding the fire?

Joe Delaney: Well, if you said you were going to look at the political decisions then you’ve got an inquiry that is going to look back at least 40-odd years.

When you look at the Bloody Sunday inquiry, that took 14 years just to look at the events of one single day. I can see the logic of not having that in this inquiry. I do think that it’s worth having an inquiry into that. I just don’t think Moore-Bick’s inquiry is the right forum.

However, one of the first statements Moore-Bick gave when the inquiry opened was that he wanted his initial report to be out by Easter, which is April 1 this year. This is somewhat ironic as I think that we’d all be fools if we thought he was going to have a report out by that date. There is no logical reason for all these delays. Remember that they had courts open 24 hours a day after the [2011] London riots, in order to ensure that all these “reprobates” who’d merely stolen or damaged property were seen to be punished. I don’t see why that sort of political weight isn’t thrown behind this matter.

Robert Stevens: It’s now 72 people who have died from the fire and no one has been arrested yet or charged. What’s your view of the police’s criminal investigation?

Joe Delaney: I would have liked to have seen a few people arrested and placed on police bail, because that’s what would have happened if this was a crime where the suspects weren’t so well connected or rich. I do understand that these investigations will take time to ensure that any charges brought against those responsible stick, as they will have very expensive lawyers involved. However, I still feel that police bail would be justified as this is what the rest of us would have faced in such a high-profile situation.
The Sunday Times attack on Joe Delaney

Robert Stevens: The Sunday Times stated in its attack piece on you that you are one of the most vocal advocates for the survivors and that you “represented former Grenfell residents on a key Kensington and Chelsea committee.” Could you explain what that committee is and what role you’ve played?

Joe Delaney: I was asked by local councillors to serve on RBKC’s Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee; you can watch the videos of that online if you visit https://www.facebook.com/Grenfellspeaks/. Grenfell Speaks is a project run by a dedicated local resident who wants to ensure that local voices and issues are broadcast, so he recorded every meeting and made them available online, which is more than RBKC have done. You will see that I’m one of the few people on that committee asking tough questions and trying to hold council officers and councillors from the ruling group to account. Many of the other councillors just seem to be there to waste time, or grandstand for their own benefit or that of their political party. They often seem too close to the officers of RBKC they are meant to hold to account and to be giving them an easy ride. I am not there to be elected and I am not there to make friends, so I have never done this.

On one occasion I had to ask Doug Goldring, director of Housing Management, the same question six or seven times to establish if any RBKC staff encouraged or coerced KCTMO to state that it was not fit for purpose and therefore wanted to hand services back to the council. I wanted a simple yes or no answer and was eventually told by the committee chair to explain why I kept asking or stop. In the end, I had to ask to the audience, like we were at a pantomime, “Has he answered my question?” Everybody said, “No!”

The council had already tried to take over the KCTMO in late 2017, but residents had blocked this because it would have meant that RBKC were able to control two avenues into the police and public inquiry—their own and that of KCTMO. This meant that they had the means to place as much of the blame as possible for the disaster on KCTMO, while allowing the council to emerge relatively unscathed. The KCTMO can then just be battered to death, blamed for everything, and wound up. RBKC could try to pretend that they are innocent victims, manipulated by the KCTMO and fed false information.

RBKC had always wanted to follow the policy of “managed decline,” as it’s known, and to eventually “regenerate” the entire area. KCTMO’s actions before the fire were going to allow them to do so, and that’s why they never really held it to account. It’s really social cleansing.

Robert Stevens: You will be a Core Participant [CP] in the public inquiry. Can you give some details on that?

Joe Delaney: My solicitor applied for CP status for me not just as a resident but also as someone who’d dealt with the KCTMO before the fire. I could show the culture of the organisation, how negligent they were, and the fact that RBKC had not performed the duty of due diligence to inspect and police the behaviour and duties the KCTMO undertook on its behalf. I am one of the 500-odd people who have got CP status, despite many more than that applying for this.

I knew quite a few people in the tower who died. This might sound weird or callous, but one of the biggest groups I knew were dog owners as I would often see them walking in the area when I was walking my own dogs. I knew some of the children who were in the tower because they went to school with my nephews. I have known quite a few of the people since the time I first got involved the opposition to the KALC project and the safety issues residents in the tower experienced.

Robert Stevens: You have been able to expose the council over their appalling response to the victims and bereaved of the Grenfell fire in not rehousing them or giving them legally mandated assistance.

Joe Delaney: I have worked in the public, private and third [charitable] sectors. I began my working career after school in various areas of IT and then moved to insurance and risk management—I worked in a neighbouring London borough’s insurance and risk management department for almost a decade, including as the insurance manager. I worked for several companies, some of which had a presence in several countries, in the same capacity. I’ve also kept my IT skills up to date, which has allowed me to offer my services to various charitable and outreach organisations on a voluntary basis so they could direct more of their funding to serving the community rather than paying for IT, legal, or insurance expertise and support. I still offer this to a couple of organisations in the area.

My wide experience in local government have meant that I have known how to twist the knife on RBKC and ensure that as many of those as possible who’ve been a victim of Grenfell or RBKC’s response to it have received help. I’ve worked at London boroughs including Ealing, Barnet, Camden, Westminster, Brent and even RBKC in various capacities. I have had the opportunity to see councils from both sides—as a service user and as an employee. I know exactly how they act from the inside, so I know where they try to ‘bury the bodies’ when things go wrong. This is something I have tried to ensure that RBKC have not been able to do since Grenfell.

Before the fire on June 14, 2017, I had just finished a work contract and planned to take a month off, but events took over and I have been working on Grenfell issues ever since, without pay.

Robert Stevens: Just after the fire, you said to a reporter in a video that is online that the authorities responsible for the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower immediately began to delete documents.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWH2w3bJRoQ

Joe Delaney: If you go on to the Internet Archive, or Way Back Machine, you will see that Rydon [the contractors who oversaw flammable cladding being placed on the tower] removed documents within hours of the fire. KCTMO removed pages from their website in the week the fire occurred. So there was already this PR exercise being undertaken by organisations who played a part in the events leading to the fire.

RBKC have behaved appallingly. They have tried to manage the PR disaster they feel they have suffered since the fire without any concern or regard for the humanitarian disaster which occurred that night, which they have worsened by their treatment of the residents affected since then.

Robert Stevens: Can you explain your recollections of the night of the fire?

Joe Delaney: It was five or ten past one on the Wednesday morning. I was on my way to bed. I could see that there were blue lights outside, but I did not really pay much attention because there are often ambulances turning up there as quite a few elderly people live on this estate, or fire engines turning up to rescue people when the lifts in Grenfell Tower malfunctioned. Despite spending £10 million supposedly regenerating Grenfell, RBKC certainly didn’t regenerate the lifts because they were continually breaking down.

One of my neighbours knocked on my door and told me the tower was on fire around five or ten past one that morning. When I went out the fire was only burning on the fourth floor, but within about 20 to 25 minutes it had gone up the middle of the tower and was spreading rapidly. At first, many people who had come out to see what was happening threw things at the windows of flats on the side of the tower facing us to try to wake people. Because I saw how quickly the fire was spreading, I went back into my block to wake one of my neighbours to ensure that if things got really bad then she and her three-year-old boy would be able to get away from any danger.

I then decided to call 999, because all I had seen in attendance were fire engines and I thought the situation also required ambulances and police to attend. I told the operator that there was a “major incident” in progress, as I wanted to ensure the response of the emergency services would match the seriousness and severity of the incident in progress. I had left my neighbour’s flat while making this call and returned to my own flat.

I then filmed things like the fire engines that couldn’t make their way to Grenfell Tower because their only access via Grenfell Road was so narrow—meaning that people actually had to go downstairs and move their vehicles from the parking bays on either side of the road to try to make room for the fire engines trying to reach Grenfell Tower. It was absolutely ridiculous. People were trying to complete three-point turns on the narrow road so they could make space for fire engines to pass.

Robert Stevens: What made you conclude the fire would be serious so early?

Joe Delaney: Because of how quickly the fire was spreading and the fact that the cladding was raining down on the ground around Grenfell Tower and preventing the fire service personnel from accessing the tower. I went outside around five or ten past one and by one-thirty I knew that this was going to be serious and people were going to die. Even at that time I was thinking ‘I want those responsible for this to be blamed for their actions.’ The instincts and experience from my work kicked in, so I wanted to try to film things that would prove that warnings made previously by locals were correct and people in the tower, as well as the fire brigade personnel trying to rescue residents from the fire, were being forced to deal with circumstances that were not only preventable but had been predicted by many.

That is why while many people were filming the tower burning, I was filming things like the fire engines having problems reaching the tower so they could deal with the fire. This was clear proof of the truth of the issues people had raised—about building a school, which cut off some of the avenues of entry to the tower should an emergency occur. At the time, I didn’t think about the fact that the cladding was also seriously hindering the rescue effort, even though I could see and hear the problems it was causing.

No one in the tower wanted the cladding; no one worried about what it looked like externally and many were unhappy when they realised that the cladding would mean that the windows of their flats would now be recessed when they were previously flush with the building exterior. That cladding was basically building Botox to make it look prettier and served no useful purpose to residents. Because Grenfell Tower could be seen from so many precious conservation areas, the council spent money on how it looked rather than what was useful to residents.

It was around 2:15 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. that a police officer ran through my section of the block to tell us all to evacuate. At this point they were not sure if the fire would spread to our sections of the estate, or if the fire damage meant Grenfell Tower would collapse and risk the integrity of the parts of the estate that were physically attached to it. We were all told to leave via the doors at the end of the blocks furthest away from the tower. However, the blocks were split into sections and key fobs that allowed access to one part did not usually allow access through the internal doors leading to other parts of the block.

My key fobs did, as I had found the stairs at the other end of the block easier to navigate when I had broken my leg shortly after moving onto the estate and was using crutches. I used my fob to open one of the doors, then myself and other residents wedged that door open with door mats while a neighbour took my fob to do the same at the other door, so none of our neighbours had issues getting out.

My neighbours and I were sitting outside for quite a while. One of my dogs ran away and I had to chase her. It was at that point that I saw people fall from the tower. I don’t know whether they jumped, or just fell. I saw a couple of people fall. They were at least half way up the tower.

Then a friend of mine contacted me. He’s a construction worker and his firm was doing a job where they could only work at night. He was driving back on the A40 Westway flyover. He sent me a message saying he could see a tower on fire and asked if it was the one near my place. He offered to collect me, so I could stay at his place for the night. I grabbed my neighbour upstairs and her three-year-old boy and we walked up as far as Holland Park station. My friend picked us up and we spent the night at his house. We just watched the news all night, seeing the situation getting progressively worse and worse.

We stayed there for about three or four days. That was when I asked to be placed in a hotel. I was endlessly messed around and so were my neighbours. On the Saturday after the fire we held a meeting and I had to write a document, which explained to people how to insist on getting a hotel from the council.

Robert Stevens: When you heard about the high number of deaths, what did you think as you were very conscious of the process that led to the disaster?

Joe Delaney: Initially you don’t think about that sort of stuff, as there was so much else that needed to be done that took all my time and attention. It was on the Wednesday, exactly two weeks after the disaster, that it hit me for the first time, and I began to focus on everything that had happened. I had a bit of a breakdown that day.

In the immediate aftermath there was just so much that needed doing, so many people that needed help. People were sleeping rough on the grass around the estate. They had nowhere else to go because the council was invisible. RBKC weren’t on the ground anywhere. It was places like a local youth club and one of the local social clubs that opened their doors and allowed people in. It was just appalling that people were being treated this way. I felt more spurred into action to try and help people get accommodation somewhere.

Robert Stevens: On a video on YouTube, you were speaking to a reporter on June 16, two days after the fire, and at that early stage you were saying that several people in authority had to be questioned and they should be brought to justice.

Joe Delaney: I knew who should be held responsible. The first person I was naming was Robert Black, then chief executive of the KCTMO. Another person I was naming was Nick Paget-Brown, who was then leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea council. Another was Rock Fielding-Mellen, then deputy leader of the council, and Jonathan Bore, head of planning. That was the hall of shame and they were the ones who I felt should be arrested.

If any of them had any problem with what I was saying, none of them have contacted me about libel. Murder is too strong a word, but it is because of those people I named that those in the tower were unlawfully killed. They died in a brutal and horrific fashion, they were burned alive.

To imply murder would give them too much credit. We were an inconvenience, an annoyance, and that is why they were indifferent. It’s this breath-taking arrogance and complete incomprehension. They have no feeling or regard for anyone other than themselves. It’s corporate psychopathy.

Robert Stevens: Grenfell was a national disaster and it quickly became clear that many buildings around the UK had the same or a similar type of cladding. There are residential council buildings, private sector blocks, student accommodation blocks, hospitals, schools. What do you think about the deregulation that could allow this to happen?

Joe Delaney: Deregulation is a race to the bottom. When the Welsh and Scottish governments instituted tougher fire regulations and insisted that when any regeneration was undertaken sprinkler systems had to be retro-fitted into buildings [then Conservative minister] Eric Pickles tweeted, “Would the last person out of Wales please turn off the cement mixer.” All they were saying is it’s going to stifle the building trade.

Sajid Javid, now responsible for the department of Communities and Local Government, was the one undertaking the “bonfire of regulations” under [then Conservative Prime Minister David] Cameron at the time. You know a lot of companies offer a sop to “social and corporate responsibility,” but if it comes to a choice between social responsibility and spending a few extra million quid on a building project, then corporate and social responsibility will go out of the window.

It’s really a cliché now, but for them it’s privatised profits, and socialised losses. They are the ones who should be responsible, and what good are corporate manslaughter charges? I want to see individuals charged, because this is the only way things will change.

Robert Stevens: It’s taking place in all cities, but social cleansing policies are rife in London where Labour is in power in most boroughs. You have similar policies going through and corporations and people heading Labour authorities who are reaping the financial benefits.

Joe Delaney: This isn’t just a Conservative problem. Labour have a lot to answer for as well. The Building Research Establishment was privatised under [Tony] Blair’s first government and the behaviour of Labour councils I find more disgraceful. They were founded as the party of working people. It is the neo-liberals I cannot stand, and frankly neo-liberalism is in all the major parties.

That’s what beggars belief, that we still have people who supposedly consider themselves to be left, or centre left, or in some cases would dare call themselves socialists. Yet they are climbing into bed with private companies that have absolutely no care or concern for the people that will be affected.

Once again we are grateful to Robert Stevens and The World Socialist Web Site for their comprehensive and in-depth coverage of the events and issues described above. We have reposted in full Mr Stevens second interview with Joe. The original can be located via the following link;  http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/03/21/dela-m21.html

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LYING DOWN WITH DOGS – RBKC AND PINNACLE HOUSING

Recent revelations about the shenanagins at the allegedly reformed RBKC have been less than reassuring for residents of the Rotten Borough’s social housing estates. Some weeks ago it was revealed that RBKC would be transferring most of the employees of the now defunct KCTMO to Hornton Street to manage the bnorough’s housing stock in-house. These are of course the same staff who were responsible for the mismanagement of the social housing stock during the years leading up to and including the tragedy at Grenfell Tower.

It is now clear that RBKC, despite their grand aspirations for the regeneration of the entire Notting Barns area, have proved incapable of handling even the emergency rehousing of the survivors of Grenfell and the associated evacuees. To make matters worse, when the TMO declared itself incapable of fullfilling its obligations to the RBKC residents it was responsible for, the only short term solution RBKC could come up with was to to transfer the same TMO staff team which had performed so poorly into direct RBKC control.

Do they really expect the residents of North Kensington to be OK with this?

Recently It has emerged that RBKC are planning to contract out to Pinnacle Housing the management of the housing stock newly acquired for the many remaining Grenfell survivors and evacuees, most of whom have been stuck in hotels for the last nine months. According to information provided by RBKC this contract is for an initial period of six months, extendable on a quarterly basis subject to performance and review. More recently still it has emerged that Pinnacle have already assumed responsibility for emergency weekend cover of all former TMO properties.

https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/howwegovern/keydecisions/decision.aspx?DecisionID=5234

It’s important to note that Pinnacle and Rydon are joined at the hip as partners under the umbrella of Regenter Ltd, a property development and management consortium for which Rydon invariably provide the repairs and maintenance service. In fact Regenter is registered at the same London address (6 St. Andrew Street, EC4) as Pinnacle and appears to be a mere alias for Pinnacle (or vice versa). This means that Rydon are almost certain to be responsible, on Pinnacle’s behalf, for the out-of-hours emergency repairs service for all RBKC properties and will be responsible, in particular, for all maintenance and repair services provided to rehoused Grenfell survivors and evacuees.

http://www.pinnaclepsg.co.uk/case-studies/london-borough-of-hammersmith-fulham/

http://www.regentermyattsfieldnorth.com/about/

http://www.regenterbrockleypfi.com/about/

In their heyday the KCTMO managed about 9,500 properties for RBKC and one of the criticisms levelled at them is that they were too big and remote from residents, and that this was one of the root causes of the negligence and incompetence that led to the Grenfell fire. Pinnacle, by contrast, is absolutely huge, providing housing and property management services to a wide range of local authorities, social housing providers, schools and other public sector bodies. They employ over 2,200 staff across the UK, directly managing 22,500 social housing properties and providing complimentary services to a further 450,000 homes, schools and public spaces. Unlike the KCTMO they are a private company run for profit, whose first responsibility will always be to their shareholders and not to their clients. This sounds like a recipe for even more remote and incompetent service delivery, and the fact is that, long before entering this new contract with RBKC, Pinnacle/Rydon were already mired in scandal over their shabby and incompetent regeneration of the Myatts Field North Estate in Lambeth.

http://www.brixtonblog.com/myatts-field-north-regeneration-putting-lives-at-risk-say-angry-residents-as-they-call-on-lambeth-council-to-act/23884

According to an article published in the Guardian by Zoe Williams in July 2016 Pinnacle were contracted at Myatts Field North to manage estate and housing services, and Rydon to oversee refurbishment and maintenance. The local residents’ association were later contacted by a whistleblower from Rydon who claimed (in a letter) that no fire assessments had been carried out in some blocks, that Rydon’s divisional manager had overruled its technical manager, who had called for more detailed risk-assessment, that fire-stopping at floor level had not been carried out, that communal emergency lighting had not been properly tested and that the procedure for testing smoke alarms was unclear.

Disgruntled residents invited Stuart Hodkinson, an expert from the University of Leeds, to investigate and record their experiences of the regeneration. He conducted a survey of 14 homes refurbished by Rydon that had been the subject of a large number of complaints and discovered showers that had been installed next to electric fans, a toilet installed so close to a wall that you could only sit on it sideways, cupboards fitted with wrongly sizeed doors and households that had been left for days without electricity and for weeks without cooking facilities. Another report by Fuel Poverty Action, addressing the many hot water failures reported by residents, found the majority were linked to the communal heating system installed by E.ON and Rydon which had failed 48 times in the first four years.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jul/21/the-real-cost-of-regeneration-social-housing-private-developers-pfi

One wonders why the properties acquired by RBKC for the displaced residents of Grenfell and its immediate surroundings would require special management, rather than RBKC simply managing them in-house as they are now proposing to do with all the rest of the housing stock formerly under KCTMO control. It has also been suggested that RBKC might not be fully committed to the long-term in-house management of their housing stock and that the curent RBKC/Pinnacle arrangements may be a pilot scheme designed to test Pinnacle’s performance with a view to entrusting the future care of all RBKC properties to them. It should be noted that Pinnacle already manage 7,614 properties for the neighbouring Hammersmith and Fulham Council, as well as housing in Newham, Lambeth and Lewisham, and are negotiating deals with Kingston and other boroughs.

Accoring to the Guardian article referenced above, there are very real dangers when the management of council property is turned over to private contractors without sufficient oversight and accountability. In such cases profit is invariably prioritised over the welfare of tenants. Channels of communication that once existed between social tenants and the local authority landlord become labyrinthine, creating confusion not only over who to complain to, but also who is liable should anything go wrong. When public and private sectors enter into such deals they tend to combine the worst of each. Council and contractor effectively become allies and residents invariably lose out. We have already experienced this phenomenon under the KCTMO – a far smaller organisation than Pinnacle – so there is little reason to expect a better outcome from Pinnacle/Rydon.

The catalogue of shoddy work by Rydon at Myatts Field North which is detailed in the Guardian article contains sinister echoes of the many complaints made by Grenfell residents during the refurbishment works that preceded the catastrophic fire that took so many lives last summer. Nor should it be forgotten that Rydon are under investigation by the Metropolitan Police and that Rydon executives may yet face charges of criminally negligent manslaughter in the 72 deaths that resulted from the Grenfell fire.

We were promised, following the Tenants Consultative Committee meetings in December last year, that tenants and leaseholders would not only be consulted but could fully participate in deciding and co-designing how their homes and estates are managed in future. Given that there has not yet been any consultation on the decisions detailed above it would seem that the RBKC leadership have sidestepped that promise already.

There are some indications that RBKC may now be considering a rethink of the Pinnacle deal, or some aspects of it, under pressure from Grenfell United and other resident groups. Nonetheless, we would argue very strongly that the outsourcing to private companies of social housing regeneration and/or management is completely unacceptable. In this case also the abandonment of Grenfell survivors to the tender mercies of Rydon and/or KCTMO staff, widely believed to be culpable in the deaths of the Grenfell 72, is not just unacceptable but unconscionable. We would admonish RBKC to think again before they proceed with this ill-begotten Pinnacle deal.

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Grenfell Activist Responds To Right-wing Media Attacks

Joe Delaney, a local resident, has a record of seeking justice for the victims and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire that has earned him the affection and respect of the entire local community in North Kensington. Having lived in a flat adjacent to Grenfell Tower, he was evacuated after the inferno that claimed at least 71 lives and left behind a toxic and burned out shell. He has been forced to live in hotel accommodation ever since.

His plight was recently used by the Sunday Times to mount a ruthless personal attack in a February 25 article , “‘Homeless’ Grenfell Tower activist Joe Delaney has flat.”

It ran with a subtitle alleging, “A campaigner claiming cash for food while put up in a hotel is still using his own home.”

The Times, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express all ran with claims that Joe is living the high life on the public purse, with the Times writing that he is “still using his north Kensington apartment”, while “claiming food allowances of up to £300 per week and has a hotel room funded by the taxpayer.”

The Socialist Equality Party and Grenfell Fire Forum opposed the attack in an article published on the World Socialist Web Site on February 28. WSWS reporter Robert Stevens interviewed Joe Delaney.

Robert Stevens: The right-wing media claim you are living in the lap of luxury in a four star £120 a night hotel!

Joe Delaney: I am in a hotel room that is 9 or 10 feet by 9 or 10 feet, so I can assure you it’s hardly the lap of luxury. It certainly doesn’t look anything like the picture that they ran alongside their piece!

Everyone that was in my part of the estate has access to their flat. And because the hotel rooms are so small, we all often come back, just to grab things because we can’t keep everything with us in the hotel rooms.

There are certainly no times when I have slept at the flat because I find that impossible. I did try a couple of times, on the advice of my therapist to see if I could. But this was well before Christmas, in the immediate aftermath.

The only other times I have been there overnight was when I had to get my emails together to submit to the police inquiry and when I had to write my Core Participant Application for the public inquiry. All the information that I needed was on my desktop computer.

I think it is something like 40 percent of the people from my part of the estate have left in total to be put in hotels and temporary accommodation. The council have been saying from the start that you can come back, but it’s at your own risk. When the building still hasn’t been declared fire safe, despite the work they’ve done since June 14, it’s just a shocking indictment on them as a landlord. How dare they say to people ‘Come back at your own risk?’ They haven’t even properly told us what those risks are.

There are a couple of [evacuated] people in the same hotel I am because it’s one that allows dogs. £120-a-night is cheap for staying in the capital. It would get you a Premier Inn if you are lucky! And they are not paying that much either, because they’ve made so many bookings for so long I know that they’re getting a discount.

Robert Stevens: The Sunday Times article was a political sting operation, including undercover photography, and suggests they had access to your personal data. Where did they get this from?

Joe Delaney: I’ve complained about this to Kensington and Chelsea council. I think the only place that information could have come from was the council because the Times knew that I was in another hotel, prior to the one that I’m in now. That rules out anyone at the current hotel saying anything as they were unaware of this fact. The reporter knew the date that I moved into this hotel, because he asked me to confirm it.

There is the timing of the story as well—it is just a bit too convenient for the council, particularly the Conservative members. They had just wound up the Scrutiny Committee [Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee] because they were saying that they’d been threatened by locals, which is nonsense. I’m on the Scrutiny Committee, and while they got a bit boisterous at times, no one was in any danger.

The other issue is the Grenfell Task Force, the central government body, is due to submit another report on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea very soon, and that’s going to be absolutely scathing because I’ve spoken with some of the civil servants involved.

The third issue is that we have elections coming up in May. And the Conservative group is absolutely determined to keep hold of RBKC council. They think that if they do lose control, they will lose their power to determine how the council responds to the public inquiry, and it could mean that some of them end up behind bars.

These are the same tactics employed while the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation [who managed Grenfell Tower on behalf of the council] was in place. There were regular smear campaigns against people who raised what proved to be 100 percent legitimate safety concerns.

Robert Stevens: The Sunday Times made repeated reference to the fact that you are accessing a £300 weekly food allowance, implying you are not entitled to it with the claim that you are staying at your flat.

Joe Delaney: That’s £42 per day. To give you an idea, to get one meal in a hotel it’s £20. So even two meals a day at the hotel a day would eat that up. The other thing they were offering was £90 per day if you chose to take it as room service. I chose not to because I thought that was a ridiculous waste of money. And frankly, I didn’t want to feel like a school child where I had to report to a certain place at a certain time every day to eat. Also, I have not been able to work since the fire, so giving me £300 per week means the council have got an absolute bargain because I guarantee I earned a lot more than that when I was actually working.

Robert Stevens: The Times secretly took surveillance photos of you.

Joe Delaney: My treatment doesn’t surprise me. The only negative pieces that have appeared about anyone to do with this campaign have been hatchet-jobs originating at the Times or the Sunday Times, so they know their audience.

They had pictures of me leaving my flat early in the morning. Well, there were quite a few mornings when I would go back to the flat early. It doesn’t mean that I stayed there at night! They didn’t release those pictures to me, despite me asking, or tell me what days they were taken so I could give them an explanation for those visits.

I’ve had to go back on several occasions quite early in the morning, because the council wanted access to undertake fire safety work that should have been done years ago. I’ve had to come back for CO2 tests, for a new door being fitted. Every time the council made an appointment with me, they never kept it! I would usually have to spend two or three days here, just to get work done that should have been done in one day. My post still comes to the flat, which I have to collect because it’s not been redirected to the hotels.

The other issue the Sunday Times raised was that I hadn’t spent every night at the hotel. That’s true. I’ve often spent nights at family or friends’ places, which I am perfectly entitled to do. The hotel is meant to be my home for now, and no one is forced to spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week cooped up at home—and not in a single room. I should have a base from which I can work, and I don’t.

Robert Stevens: Have you any legal redress?

Joe Delaney: Not really, it’s not like I could just get money to mount a case against them. And given the way that they wrote the piece, it’s very iffy whether I could prove that it was libelous or defamatory. You would be looking at thousands of pounds to instruct a solicitor, to instruct a QC, then take the matter to court, and then there’s also the issue of costs if you lose.

But I can prove that the Sunday Times attack is spurious by citing the admission of the journalist involved! Gabriel Pogrun sent an email to my legal representatives stating, “I have at no point made any allegation of fraud whatsoever or even used that word.”

He says they had no intention of implying that I was committing fraud, so why was the piece worded that way then? The whole tone of the piece implied I was collecting funds that I was not entitled to, and that I was being dishonest and manipulative to do so.

That’s not where to look for dishonesty. People are being asked to pay rent and service charges by the council for places that don’t meet the decent homes standard, which is outrageous. Those charges were restored again on February 5. They’re saying we’ll charge you 100 percent of the rent, and then people can apply to have 50 percent of that refunded.

I threatened them by saying, ‘If you start charging people service charges, I will help everyone write letters of claim to you about every single issue.’ At the moment, people are willing to let things slide when they’re not being charged for services they don’t actually receive!

A smear campaign is underway against all those seeking to establish the truth about Grenfell. Conservative councillors have a lot to be worried about because quite a few of them should be facing jail terms: The former leader of the council Nicholas Paget-Brown for starters, and his former deputy, Rock Feilding-Mellen. Those two most definitely should be facing prison terms.

Rock Feilding-Mellen authorized the change to the cheaper flammable cladding, which was against the European Union procurement regulations. They’d taken the contract specifying one type of cladding and then he wanted to save money. An investigation by BBC Newsnight had leaked emails to show this.

It was annoying to have the Sunday Times thing published about me, but they have not been able to refute any of the arguments I’ve put forward. That’s exactly what happened with Stormzy [the grime artist who attacked the government live on TV during the BRIT awards]. The narrative with him was, “Well look, he grew up in a council house, so he should be grateful for what he has now, so shut up. This is none of his concern, none of his business.”

It is 72 deaths by the way, because I attended the funeral of victim number 72 on Saturday. [Maria Del Pilar Burton was the wife of Nick Burton. Both managed to escape from Grenfell tower and were hospitalised as a result.]

The police are trying to argue that Maria’s death had nothing to do with the fire, but everyone around here knows that’s utter nonsense. We’re up to 72 deaths, but the police are currently saying that her death won’t be included as part of the final figure.

The other issue I have had with the police is the methodology used to calculate who was in the tower and who wasn’t at the time it burned. That tower burned at temperatures hotter than a crematorium, so it’s very likely you’re not going to find any remains of some people. The only way you’re going to guarantee who’s in there is to use some of the tactics used during the London riots, where they positioned where people’s mobile phones were.

In this part of London, you can do that to within about one square meter, because there are that many mobile phone masts in the area. Why are they willing to employ that for a few pounds’ worth of property damage, but not to find out whether people were killed in Grenfell?

Robert Stevens: The campaign against you followed an attack by the same newspapers on the Justice For Grenfell group and other groups and individuals in December and then on the film that tells the truth about the Grenfell fire and its causes, Failed by the State.

Joe Delaney: Yes, there was the attack on Justice For Grenfell, there was the attack on Ed Daffarn, who was from the Grenfell Action Group I work with. It’s shooting the messenger again. I know Dan Renwick and I know Ishmael, the two people behind Failed by the State, and I can assure you that neither of them are Kremlin agents! They are just local residents—Ishmael lives on the estate, Dan lives in the area. They are just people who wanted certain questions answered and wanted to put certain information out there.

Let’s be honest, I’m white and well spoken. That’s how come I was picked on. That was why Failed by the State was picked on—it was well presented and well-articulated. That’s what they don’t like, because then it doesn’t fit with their claim that the tower was packed  to the rafters with illegal immigrants who shouldn’t have been there anyway.

There is absolutely no justification for why that tower burned. There is no reasonable, understandable explanation that can be given for the events that led up to that disaster. Or the appalling handling of the fallout from that disaster since June 14. It’s easier just to paint a picture that we’re all like characters from Shameless, milking the system for as much as we can and taking advantage of a tragedy. We’re certainly not doing that.

It’s our friends and family that died in that tower. So how dare anyone, the council, central government or the media, present us as people attempting to cash in on this appalling tragedy that affected people that we know, or that we are related to, or that we lived next door to? That is an outrageous smear.

No similar Sunday Times investigation has taken place into individuals among the entities who made the decisions that led to the Grenfell inferno. Are they following Rock Feilding-Mellen on his country estate, which he’s fled to since the night of the fire? Are they following anyone at Rydon? Are they following anyone at the Building Research Establishment? No, they’re not. They threw time, money and resources into having me followed, and what were they able to come up with? That I’d been back to my flat!

Reposted from:

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2018/03/14/dela-m14.html

We gratefully acknowledge the important role of the World Socialist Website in defending those who, like Joe, give their time and efforts so generously and selflessly on behalf of the survivors and the bereaved of Grenfell and the North Kensington Community.

Posted in Uncategorized

Urgent – RBKC Leadership Team Meeting 22nd March

There is an answer to this question, but it is not a simple one to explain. Politics and law are often complicated; but what is truly disgraceful is how RBKC are trying to sneak decisions through that could protect staff and councillors who are responsible for the Grenfell disaster from any legal or criminal responsibility, as well as make other decisions they know we will disagree with.

PLEASE READ THIS IF YOU CARE ABOUT WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR COMMUNITY AND WANT TO ENSURE THAT RBKC WILL BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE BY THE POLICE INVESTIGATION AND THE PUBLIC INQUIRY.

Many of the councillors who are responsible for the Grenfell disaster are about to make some important decisions that will serve THEIR interests – decisions that seem designed to help them avoid criminal responsibility from the police investigation and any blame from the Grenfell public inquiry.

Whatever people may think of the RBKC Grenfell Recovery Scrutiny Committee, at least it was held in the local area and advertised to people what it would be discussing. Many locals used those meetings as an opportunity make their feelings known to RBKC staff and councillors about the disaster, and the fact that warnings made by many members of our community about the risks RBKC were taking with our safety for years before Grenfell Tower burned were ignored and even ridiculed.

However the Scrutiny Committee isn’t where the power lies or where decisions are made at RBKC. The RBKC Leadership Team is actually where all of this happens. The Leadership Team should therefore be where the community now focuses its effort and attention.

Look at who is on the RBKC Leadership Team and what they are responsible for:
https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/how-council-works/making-decisions/leadership-team

The Leadership Team makes ALL of the major decisions about EVERYTHING in RBKC – decisions regarding the Grenfell recovery effort, decisions regarding the future of KCTMO, decisions regarding how RBKC respond to the police and public inquiries, decisions regarding where money is spent in the borough and how much we are taxed – all of these decisions and many more are taken by the Leadership Team.

Look at the decisions made by the Leadership Team during their meeting on 6th February:
https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/committees/Meetings/tabid/73/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/669/Meeting/7635/Committee/1582/SelectedTab/Documents/Default.aspx

Decisions were made about KCTMO, resuming rent charges for Lancaster West Estate, how former Tower residents are looked after, and the rehousing policy.

Now look at the decisions made at their meeting on 26th February:
https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/committees/Meetings/tabid/73/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/669/Meeting/7614/Committee/1582/SelectedTab/Documents/Default.aspx

Decisions were made about spending on ALL council services – schools, social services, libraries, rubbish collection, streets, and parking to name a few – EVERYTHING that RBKC provides and EVERYWHERE it is provided from (such as Wornington College and North Kensington Library) was agreed at that meeting.

The decisions highlighted above are just some of those we ALL feel strongly about, yet RBKC has been making them in such a sneaky way that most residents never even realised when, where, and how they were being made.

If that wasn’t bad enough, look at what decisions the Leadership Team will be making at its next meeting on 22nd March:
https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/committees/Meetings/tabid/73/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/669/Meeting/7608/Committee/1582/SelectedTab/Documents/Default.aspx

They are planning to make decisions about issues including how local businesses affected by Grenfell will be treated, awarding funding to reduce youth crime rates to an outside organisation rather than somewhere like Harrow Club, and funding decisions about the Carnival.

But that’s not the worst of it – the sneakiest and most self-serving decision they will be making on 22nd March will allow them to spend MILLIONS on expensive law firms to “advise” them on how to respond to the Grenfell criminal investigation and the public inquiry.

If RBKC have nothing to hide then they have nothing to fear – so why do they need to spend so much on legal advice about how they should respond to any questions they are asked by the police or public inquiries? RBKC have a substantial internal legal department staffed by qualified legal experts with many hours of court experience, so why do they need to spend more on external legal advice?

The budget for internal legal services at RBKC is already more than a million pounds per year.

In addition RBKC have recently set a budget of more than three and a half million pounds for external legal services in 2018/19 – and now want to increase that budget to five million pounds:                           https://www.rbkc.gov.uk/committees/Meetings/tabid/73/ctl/ViewMeetingPublic/mid/669/Meeting/7608/Committee/1582/SelectedTab/Documents/Default.aspx

They chose not to spend an extra FIVE THOUSAND POUNDS on safer cladding when they “regenerated” Grenfell Tower, yet now they are happy to spend FIVE MILLION POUNDS on EXTERNAL legal services, in addition to their existing internal budget for legal services, before they respond to questions they are asked by the two investigations into the Grenfell fire.

Why does being open and honest with these investigations require so much money for legal services – especially external legal services?

Does it really cost so much to simply tell the truth?

Councillors who fear facing criminal charges or legal responsibility for their decisions or actions before Grenfell are desperate to get this all agreed at the 22nd March Leadership Team meeting as they know this is their best chance of avoiding ANY blame or responsibility – and using OUR tax money to do this.

We want EVERYONE, not just RBKC, to be open and honest with ALL investigations into this disaster; not just for our own sakes and our own peace of mind, but also to ensure that no one else has to suffer what we have endured since 14th June 2017 and will affect us for the rest of our lives.

They seem to have already forgiven themselves for the Grenfell disaster and want to spend £5 million to ensure they face no punishment. This is NOT justice and it is NOT what residents want. We need to remind them of their promises to be more open and honest.

THE LEADERSHIP TEAM MEETING AT 6:30PM AT THE TOWN HALL ON THURSDAY 22ND MARCH COULD BE OUR LAST CHANCE TO DO THIS.

WE MUST ENSURE IT IS NOT WASTED!

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