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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Grenfell – four years on and nothing has changed

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The wrapped wreck of the burnt-out Grenfell Tower is still visible from the route of Notting Hill Carnival four years after the devastating fire on 14 June 2017 that killed 72 people.

Despite an ongoing inquiry confirming beyond all reasonable doubt that the tower’s highly flammable cladding was the main factor in the fire’s spread, little has been done to remove similar combustible cladding from other blocks around the UK. Building owners (including councils) and property management companies have still not removed cladding that daily puts at risk the lives of an estimated 700,000 residents.


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A fire in a Hotpoint fridge-freezer spread to Grenfell Tower’s cladding and insulation, installed by Osborne Berry. Feeding on the inflammable materials, the blaze soon engulfed the block. RBKC’s dysfunctional Tenant Management Organisation had repeatedly ignored residents’ complaints about the way the block was being refurbished. The London Fire Brigade compounded the disaster by telling residents to stay in their flats as the fire took hold ‑ and then were unable to rescue them in time.

The inquiry has heard shocking allegations about a reckless disregard for safety on the part of cladding and insulation manufacturers Arconic, Celotex and Kingspan. Almost every company and organisation involved with the Grenfell refurbishment is revealed to have used deception to sell or install materials that were unsuitable for use on high-rise buildings.

For the tower’s managers, architects, consultants and suppliers, the priority is to wriggle out of responsibility. For survivors and relatives of those who perished, the focus is the long search for truth and justice. For North Kensington’s close-knit community, the slogan on the charred tower’s plastic wrap says it all: Grenfell – forever in our hearts.


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