It’s difficult to see how the Tories could sink much lower in their response to the Grenfell Tower disaster. The top of government failed to act on a safety review. The landlord ignored tenants’ warnings. Theresa May couldn’t even bring herself to meet residents. And now, the Conservative leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council has managed to hit a new low, blaming residents for a sprinkler system not being installed.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Nick Paget-Brown said:
There wasn’t a collective view that all the flats should be fitted with sprinklers because that would have delayed and made the refurbishment of the block more disruptive.
And he continued blaming residents:
We are now talking retrospectively after the most enormous tragedy, but many residents felt that we needed to get on with the installation of new hot water systems, new boilers and that… trying to retrofit more would delay the building and that sprinklers aren’t the answer.
Paget-Brown was also clueless about the situation in other tower blocks in the area. He was unable to say how many other buildings lacked sprinkler systems.
But Paget-Brown’s comments are in direct contradiction to the words of residents, who have continually raised issues of fire safety.
In November 2016, the Grenfell Action Group (GAG) wrote on its blog:
Unfortunately, the Grenfell Action Group have reached the conclusion that only an incident that results in serious loss of life of KCTMO [Kensington and Chelsea Tenancy Management Organisation] residents will allow the external scrutiny to occur that will shine a light on the practices that characterise the malign governance of this non-functioning organisation…
It is our conviction that a serious fire in a tower block or similar high density residential property is the most likely reason that those who wield power at the KCTMO will be found out and brought to justice!
KCTMO also received legal warnings about fire safety in two other tower blocks.
There are many different factors and people who are liable to be culpable for the fire. And as council leader, Paget-Brown will also have questions to answer.
But one thing is certain. Blaming the residents is disgusting. Even if it were true, which is debatable from the evidence, it should have been the responsibility of the council to insist they were fitted.
Even for the Tories, Paget-Brown has reached an all time low with his comments. This is a vile and contemptible response to the tragedy.
– If you are concerned about anyone from Grenfell Tower, call the Casualty Bureau on 0800 0961 233 or 0207 158 0197
– Support the Justice for Grenfell protest.
– Donate to the Grenfell Tower Appeal
Featured image via screenshot