Horsham Solidarity Silent Walk – 14th July 2018

All across the country on the 14th of every month communities are organising walks to pay respect to those who died in the Grenfell fire and also raise awareness of the campaign for justice for their families and those who have been displaced as a result of this tragedy, many of whom still remain without a permanent home.

In response to the call for communities to join in solidarity with the Grenfell community, Horsham held its first silent walk on Saturday 14th July. The objective of these walks is to maintain a focus on Grenfell to ensure that those responsible are brought to account and those effected are appropriately compensated and receive justice as soon as possible.

Walkers processed silently from the Friends Meeting House through the town centre to Horsham’s council offices where in his supporting speech, David Hide, Chair of Horsham Labour Party, highlighted the need for those in power to always fully address their responsibilities to those to whom they owe duty of care.

Commenting afterwards David Hide said,

“We hope to organise a monthly event until such point the review delivers a satisfactory outcome for the Grenfell community. We would like to build this into a silent walk supported by all communities within Horsham. The next silent walk is planned for Tuesday 14th August at 7pm meeting outside the Friends Meeting House, all groups and individuals who share the objective of delivering justice for grenfell are welcome.”

‘The Two Steps to Justice’ by J4G Guest Writer David Lammy MP

David Lammy MP is the Labour MP for Tottenham.

Securing justice for the catastrophic Grenfell fire has two key components. First, those responsible for the gross corporate negligence and manslaughter need to be identified, arrested and sentenced. Second, the government needs to take steps to ensure that no tower block fire on the tragic scale of Grenfell is repeated. Over recent days, we have had progress on both of these counts, but over a year since 14th June 2017, full justice remains a long way off.

The Met Police has revealed that the Grenfell fire investigation has now moved onto a new phase. People will be interviewed under caution, as detectives consider who is responsible for “gross negligence manslaughter, corporate manslaughter and breaches of the Health and Safety Act.” I see it as vital for the victims and for faith in the police that the individuals responsible are punished, as opposed to limiting retribution to fines for corporations. It is understandable that the police take their time to untangle the thousands of pages of evidence, but the perpetrators must be brought to justice as soon as possible.

On the second aspect of justice for Grenfell, the government is right to ban flammable cladding on new high-rises. However, this does not go nearly far enough. Why should residents in existing buildings, with similarly dangerous cladding, be expected to live under the spectre of fear? How are they expected to sleep at night?  The construction industry needs to be forced to wake up after Grenfell. A new era of construction, which prioritises fire safety, is vital, unless this industry wants even more blood on its hands.

By David Lammy MP For Tottenham

J4G’s Questions To The Inquiry

This week, at the Inquiry, we heard further evidence from fire fighters who attended Grenfell Tower on 14th June 2017 and also evidence from Jo Smith, Senior Operations Manager, who attended the Control Centre after 2.00am on the night and on hearing the emergency calls from residents, indicated to the call handlers to tell residents to ‘leave the building’.

An apparent emerging theme this week was the inadequacy of communication methods and equipment available to our emergency services.

Additionally, this week, bereaved families have complained about the cramped conditions, with little sunlight at Holborn Bars. Again, paramedics had to attend to treat someone who fainted.

J4G questions to the Inquiry this week:

  • Why in 21stCentury Britain do we have an emergency service still reliant on outdated radio equipment?
  • Is it an indictment on government that our Fire Service had to rely on white boards, pens and ‘scraps’ of paper to record and communicate where residents were and what the conditions were in the Tower?
  • Why don’t our fire service have mobile phones that can record dialogue and be linked to an electronic recording system?
  • Should the Fire Service’s training budget be increased immediately?
  • Have the firefighters and officers who have given evidence so far; received adequate counselling for PSTD and trauma?
  • Is the Venue at Holborn Bars suitable for the Inquiry hearings?

‘The Grenfell Inquiry needs to reflect it’s diversity’ By Guest Writer Kate Osamor MP

The community living in Grenfell tower was representative of London in it’s wonderful diversity. Like many, I have been moved by the stories of people from all over the world who had made London their home and gave this city their hard work, love and solidarity. I, too, have been shocked by this devastating fire and the loss of so many lives, but I have also been amazed by the extraordinary spirit of community and togetherness that came out of it.

When marching with survivors on the anniversary of the fire on the 14th of June this year, some of whom lost friends or family members, I felt nothing but utter admiration for the courage and solidarity they showed.

The very least I expected from the Government after this tragedy, was for them to ensure that those who lost their homes were rehoused, that tower block residents across the country would be safe, and that the survivors and bereaved families could have full confidence in the ongoing public inquiry.

Over a year after the tragedy, only 39% of households have been rehoused permanently and the same cladding is still used in 470 high-rise blocks across the country, turning a tragedy into an outright scandal.

An Inquiry has finally been called, the first part of which started at the beginning of June. After strong public pressure and a hard-fought campaign by survivors and bereaved families, the Prime Minister agreed that a panel of experts with decision-making powers should be appointed to sit alongside Sir Martin Moore-Bick. It was a very obvious requirement and I wish that families who had lost a loved one would have been left to grieve instead of being made to fight for fairness.

I have since been approached by members of the Grenfell community and they have one more request. They want assurances that they will all be heard, no matter where they come from or if they have the right papers. They want to be consulted about an event that changed their lives forever. They want justice.

By Kate Osamor MP – Kate Osamor is the MP for Edmonton and the Shadow Secretary of State for International Develeopment.

‘Let’s not forget the control workers’ By Guest Writer Lucy Masoud

As the Grenfell Inquiry enters it’s second month, each day and with every witness, we understand more the full extent of what actually took place on June 14th 2017. We have seen firefighters breakdown in tears as they describe the impossible situation they were in and the unimaginable sights they witnessed.

We are, of course, all united in our support and admiration for the brave men and woman firefighters who entered the Grenfell Tower  that night in order to save lives. But let us never forget the work of the control workers who took the emergency calls on that evening, and who although not physically present, nevertheless experienced the horrors of that night in the same way as the firefighters.

This week the first of the control workers to give evidence at the inquiry has taken the stand. As with previous witnesses, they will no doubt conduct themselves with dignity and pride. Many of the control workers on the night of Grenfell took multiple calls and would have heard unimaginable and extremely harrowing calls.

Lets hope the control workers receive the same respect and admiration shown to them as the firefighters have so far.

By Lucy Masoud – London Fire Brigade’s Union Treasurer & Head of FBU Discipline