Our regular readers won’t be surprised that, having failed earlier to elicit anything resembling an adequate response on the Grenfell Tower power surge issue from the Chair of the Council’s Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Quentin Marshall, we sent him another email on Friday 20th September in hope that we might get a more positive response this time through sheer persistence:

Dear Councillor Marshall,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Grenfell Action Group and the Grenfell Tower Leaseholders Association to request an urgent meeting with you in your capacity as Chair of the RBKC Housing and Property Scrutiny Committee.

We are obviously concerned about the power surge issue and the fact that, in the 16th July Scrutiny Committee report into the matter, it was stated that there was still confusion as to what precisely caused this issue.

If you recall, the surges caused significant damage to electrical equipment belonging to many of the residents of Grenfell Tower and caused much upset, alarm, and distress. Thankfully the damage was limited to property, but there are real worries amongst the residents that something more serious could have occurred or indeed could occur in the future.

In the run up to the July meeting of the Scrutiny Committee, the Grenfell Action Group wrote to you in your capacity as Chair (email dated 9th July 2013) and highlighted our concerns that the TMO were going to minimise the fire safety risk experienced by residents on 29th May. It looks like events have proved us right.

We subsequently invited you to attend a meeting with residents of Grenfell Tower where the power surge was discussed but you chose not to attend. We again emailed you on the 19th August and reiterated our concerns that the Scrutiny Committee needed to be have been vigilant of the TMO “cover up” and warned you that our community will not let this matter lie.

The Grenfell Action Group then blogged our frustrations on 27th August:

We have now had an opportunity to study the Scrutiny Committee minutes and the report that was submitted to the Scrutiny Committee from the TMO; we were extremely surprised with their content as it would appear that the seriousness of the matter is being downplayed, to say the least. It would seem very remiss for the Scrutiny Committee to simply accept the word of the TMO and ignore the explicit concerns regarding our health and safety we previously highlighted to your Members by email on the 9th July.

The only reference we can find to any fire risk or smoke being present at Grenfell Tower has appeared in our local Councillor Judith Blakeman’s own minutes and seemed to suggest that the TMO wished to explain away residents concerns’ of burning electrical appliances by telling the Scrutiny Committee that the smoke reported by residents had been caused by water falling on a hot surface and causing steam to rise! This is deeply insulting and shows a shockingly blasé attitude from the TMO.

We are also aware that Mr Black made allegations that the Grenfell Action Group and other local stakeholders had made misleading statements on our blog and in round robin emails. When we challenged Mr Black to substantiate these allegations (by informing us what statements he believed we gave that contained misleading information) he could not explain himself. Despite several opportunities Mr Black has failed to provide any evidence for the statements that he made to the Scrutiny Committee; we would therefore like this matter to be raised by you with Mr Black to ensure that the information he has provided the Scrutiny Committee is as full and frank as possible and does not contain such sweeping accusations which cannot be substantiated in future.

By now, you will no doubt be aware that the council’s insurer and claims handler, Zurich Municipal, have denied liability for this matter on behalf of the council and the TMO; an offer of £200 per household has been made but this will not cover the costs many households will have to replace their damaged property and fixtures. Many residents now face great hardship in these difficult financial times to replace the electrical appliances the TMO simply failed to protect.

We would therefore request that a meeting be convened between yourself and the affected residents of Grenfell Tower at the earliest mutual convenience; this would allow everyone to put their concerns forward and seek assurances from you that the matter will be brought to a conclusion satisfactory to all parties.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

For, and on behalf of,

Grenfell Action Group

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