THE FIGHT for justice for every single man, woman and child who died in the Grenfell Tower and their families and the survivors who are still languishing in hotels almost eight months after the tragic fire is now spreading across the nation.
For the first time, next Wednesday, Manchester and London will march in tandem, with a silent march in North Kensington, London, coordinated with a silent march through central Manchester.
Since the tragedy on 14 June, protesters have held monthly silent marches near the Kensington site and with each march the deep-rooted anger, at the council, the government and the Tenants Management Organisation (TMO), has increased. Every month, the numbers grow. Last month, there were thousands on the streets.
Hundreds of survivors from the tower and the immediate buildings are still languishing in temporary accommodation, despite promises to fast-track them into new homes.
The march through Manchester will include a silent candlelit procession led by 71 people – each carrying a placard bearing the photo of someone who died. This will be followed by a minute’s silence and speeches in Piccadilly Gardens.
Kevin Allsop, who has organised the event for trades union association GMATUC, said: ‘We wanted to show our support to the people of Grenfell and hope that other cities will then pick up the baton and do something similar on the anniversary of the fire, on 14 June.’
Joe Delaney, whose low-rise block is connected to the tower, will attend the march. He is still living in a hotel almost two miles away from home. According to Kensington and Chelsea Council, 248 households continue to reside in their homes on the Lancaster West Estate, of which the tower is part, while 66 households are in emergency hotel accommodation.
On the night of the fire, he left his home without any belongings – other than his two dogs – after spending hours helping to raise the alarm and evacuate neighbours.
It took four days of fighting with the local authority for him to be offered emergency accommodation – during which time he and his neighbour, who has a toddler, were forced to stay with one of his friends.
He said: ‘People have no trust in Kensington Borough Council. The police recovery teams are still working next to my flat and the council still hasn’t shown evidence that the building is fire-safe, eight months on.
‘This safety issue is bigger than Grenfell though. This is a national issue – there are blocks across the country with unsafe claddingstill on, and where it has been removed residents are freezing.
‘The protections for tenants in this country are appalling and no matter which party is in government, little seems to change. Safety should not be seen as an undue burden. How dare they!’
The event begins at 6.15pm on 14 February at the junction of Market Street and Cross Street in central Manchester while the silent march in North Kensington begins at 5.30pm outside Kensington Town Hall, Hornton St, Kensington, London W8 7NX.
Dear Barry Quirk,
Re: Resignation of Michael Clarke
My name is Mr Mahad Egal, I am a survivor of 15 Grenfell Tower and I am calling for the immediate resignation of Michael Clarke.
It has come to my attention that Michael Clarke is the Director of Communications & Community Engagement at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
I am deeply concerned of the remit of his role at RBKC with obvious sensitivities this requires, given his previous appointment as Head of Press for the Grenfell Tower Public Inquiry. This concern is further compounded by his previous role as interim Chief Media spokesman for First Secretary of State Damian Green and Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, and I suggest his position is untenable.
Given your role as Town Clerk with oversight and direct responsibility for your subordinates at RBKC, this also raises alarms about your approach to governing RBKC, moving from the consultation model to a community-led one.
I know that Mr Clarke began his assignment with RBKC in September 2017
at the time he was shown the impact that the lack of effective communications and community engagement has had, the erosion of trust between RBKC and residents was outlined clearly along with an indication of what was needed to effect change. Given Mr Clarke’s remit included these key areas it is obvious that he has consistently failed in his responsibilities and despite repeated warnings, officers maintained a lofty distance from the community and this only increased the suffering and confusion caused initially by RBKC’s disastrous first response on 14th June.
It is reasonable in any professional setting for individuals who consistently underperform to be held accountable for their poor performance. The community has seen no evidence that Mr Clarke has either been reminded of the responsibilities assigned to his position and salary or has himself proactively enacted improvements following repeated contestations from members of the community and various public servants. His position has long been untenable, a view confirmed by the revelations at the last Grenfell Scrutiny Meeting.
Seven months into the recovery of the worst fire in London since World War Two; Mr Clarke and his team presented a community engagement paper that presented a mixture of weak theory, with no evidence of action, meaningful objectives or indeed any indication of actual achievement.
Immediately after the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower, Mr Clarke was responsible for hiding the ‘Grenfell Tower Tragedy’ on page 7 of the local ‘Royal Borough’ paper. It is widely acknowledged that the Grenfell Tower Fire has changed the lives of those who live in North Kensington forever, it is, therefore, inconceivable that this was not published on the front page of the paper and presents the first attempt of a ‘cover-up’.
I am deeply saddened by Mr Clarke’s decisions and have no confidence in his future decisions. Survivors of Grenfell Tower are currently suffering from a lack of communication from RBKC, and this is jeopardising the future of the local community. The failure of Mr Clarke to engage with the community has unveiled his intentions of covering up the tragedy. I would, therefore, like to call for the immediate resignation of Michael Clarke.
Please note that a petition calling for the resignation of Michael Clarke will be in circulation following this email.
On Thursday evening, ITN broadcast a report on Fire Safety in RBKC.
Rags Martel speaks with Stephen Mackenzie, a Fire Safety Expert and Judy Bolton, a resident of Kensal House on the ongoing failures of the Council and KCTMO.
This week commemorates 46 years since the Bogside Massacre, often referred to as Bloody Sunday – in which British Soldiers killed unarmed civilians.
A week of talks, events and open mic sessions concludes today with a march, which has become Ireland’s “largest annual human rights event”.
Joe Delaney, a Grenfell Survivor and member of the Grenfell Action Group, spoke on a panel, named “We Shall Overcome: The Patronising Disposition of Unaccountable Power”. He spoke alongside Becky Shah of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, Suresh Grover of the London-based Monitoring Group and Stafford Scott, co-founder of the Broadwater Farm Defence Campaign in 1985, who is now a consultant on racial equality & community engagement.