The Grenfell Action Group was formed in 2010 to oppose the Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre development which we considered to be a gross overdevelopment of an inappropriate site involving the destruction of Lancaster Green, one of the few local green spaces, and the only residential amenity space available for the residents of the immediately adjacent Grenfell Tower.
The founder members were Edward Daffarn of Grenfell Tower and myself, Francis O’Connor, from the nearby Verity Close. In 2012 we started this blog and worked closely together to research, write and publish it as regularly as our combined efforts would allow. The Grenfell Action group and this accompanying blog has operated without funding throughout its existence. From time to time we have been joined in our efforts by a few others who shall remain nameless here.
We were, and still are, committed to defending the rights of the residents of Lancaster West Estate, a sprawling, inner-city, social housing complex of nearly a thousand dwellings, mostly working class, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic. Our community is located in North Kensington in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Our blog has recorded, and continues to record, our struggle for social justice and adequate services for our community and we hope it will remain as evidence for future generations of how this community has resisted continual mis-treatment arising from the dictatorship of the Conservative led Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) and its now defunct social housing management agents the Kensington & Chelsea TMO (KCTMO). Since our formation we have collaborated with a variety of other organisations and groups notably;
THE RADICAL HOUSING NETWORK
The Grenfell Action Group joined the Radical Housing Network in March 2014 and has since worked hard at forging mutually supportive relationships with other communities and action groups throughout the Greater London area who have experienced similar problems to ours, notably gentrification and social cleansing via so-called ‘regeneration’.
Our aims have changed and evolved considerably over time. From originally opposing the Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre development and the associated loss of our essential residential amenity, a battle we lost but never really expected to win given the powerful forces ranged against us, we have now diversified our efforts to confront the managed decline of Lancaster West Estate and the widespread threat of ‘social cleansing’ throughout North Kensington and the rest of London.
We continue to campaign on important issues impacting Lancaster West Estate and our local area. We will continue to challenge RBKC plans for the largescale ‘regeneration’ of social housing in Kensington and Chelsea and the marginalization of Lancaster West residents and other woking class communities in London and beyond.
In 2013 I left my home in Verity Close because of chronic illness exacerbated by the constant stress of living in close proximity to the demolition and construction works for the Kensington Academy and Leisure Centre development. I returned to my country of origin, the Republic of Ireland, but continued to work closely with Eddie producing this blog until the night of the Grenfell Fire when Ed lost his home, all of his possessions and very nearly his life.
Following the catastrophic but completely avoidable inferno that destroyed Grenfell Tower on 14th June 2017 with the needless loss, in horrific circumstances, of 72 innocent lives, we have devoted most of our energy to investigating the causes of the fire, including the cultural and political causes that contributed directly or indirectly to the disaster, and to seeking justice for those who lost loved ones on that day and the many survivors who were left homeless and traumatised.
For obvious reasons it was not possible for Ed to continue to contribute to the blog over the next several months so I continued alone to the best of my ability. I had hoped that he would eventually return but to date this hasn’t happened and I eventually accepted, although with bitter regret, that he will not be returning. I have therefore, since 14th June 2017, been the sole author of the blog and intend to continue for as long as I am able and feel that what I can contribute is still relevant.
I can be reached by email at; GAGBlog@protonmail.com but please be aware that my ability to respond to emails is limited so you may not receive an acknowlegement or reply. That being said, please note that I would welcome any well researched and well written new material for publication provided it is consistent with the principles of the Radical Housing Network, the Grenfell Action Group and the aims and objectives of this blog.
WE RE-ASSERT THE SUPPORT OF THE GRENFELL ACTION GROUP FOR THE PRINCIPLES OF THE RADICAL HOUSING NETWORK AND WILL CONTINUE TO WORK WITH OTHER NETWORK MEMBERS, THROUGH DIRECT ACTION AND OTHER MEANS INCLUDING THIS BLOG.
Editor Grenfell Action Group