Yvette Williams writes for The Metro – Article is found here
Theres May, your response to Grenfell is nothing to be proud of
25th May 2019
Resigning on Friday, Theresa May expressed ‘deep regret’ that she didn’t deliver on Brexit. However, she went on to add things she was proud of and the progress she has made over the last three years including setting up ‘the independent inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, to search for the truth, so nothing like it can ever happen again, and so the people who lost their lives that night are never forgotten.’
Oh dear Ms May this is a huge oversight on your part. It is with deep regret that we, at Justice4Grenfell, need to inform you that didn’t deliver on Grenfell either.
Let’s start at the very beginning. You paid a private visit to the site of the Grenfell disaster on the day after the fire, the building was still smouldering and you chose not to meet with survivors of the fire or the affected community citing concerns over security. Instead you met with the emergency services.
On hearing of the fury among local residents, you paid another visit, this time announcing your plans to hold a public inquiry; that all survivors would be housed within three weeks and you would leave no stone unturned to find out the truth of how the fire happened. May (excuse the pun) I bring you up to date on these promises. There are still families living in emergency and temporary accommodation 23 months on.
The former Grenfell tower residents were portrayed in sections of the media negatively as ‘immigrants’, asylum seekers, refugees, benefit scroungers and subletters. May I suggest you must take some responsibility for the part you played in this? It was under your leadership at the Home Office that this ‘hostile environment’ was created.
This racist policy was the catalyst for creating alarm and division in our society; using immigration as the only reason for the increasing austerity at the time. You further promoted this by sending ‘Go Home’ anti-immigration vans into our neighbourhoods.
You appointed Sir Martin Moore-Bick to chair the Public inquiry. Traumatised families asked for additional diverse panel members – people who reflected their backgrounds. This was not a new concept, it had been done with the Stephen Lawrence inquiry.
Bereaved families took a petition to Downing Street; others met with you there. Grime artist Stormzy reached out to his social media following to gain 100,000 signatures on the petition. You did eventually relent. But there were still strings attached; the additional panel members would only be part of phase two of the Inquiry. On your departure they are yet to be appointed and phase two has been delayed until next year.
You may have had sight of a report by charity group Inquest recently that stated that many of the bereaved families, survivors and affected community are losing trust in your promised inquiry. This is further compounded by a now delayed phase one report that should have been released in the spring and is now due in October.
It is unacceptable that nearly two years on, not one single recommendation has been made or change to legislation. The longer it takes for the inquiry to make recommendations, the longer the risk of further preventable loss of life remains. You also failed those who continue to feel unsafe in their homes.
You should also know that due to cuts to the fire service and continued deregulation firefighters were left with communication equipment that failed on the night of the fire and a lack of breathing apparatus. Your government should have implemented changes to this with a matter of urgency.
You could also look at your party’s tardy response to the removal of inflammable materials up and down the country; the installation of sprinklers as a mandatory feature and to the air and soil testing for toxins in our environment. This is not an exhaustive list.
So in drawing my conclusion Theresa, I find it difficult to comprehend why you would claim you are proud of the progress you have made following the Grenfell fire and add this to your legacy.
Perhaps you have some additional evidence to the contrary. But as a final point, please be minded that 72 dead and still no arrests is something no one should be proud of.