Our statement on the second anniversary of the Grenfell Tower Fire
On Friday 14 June, Living Rent will take to the streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh to join our voices with the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, marking the second anniversary of the tragedy in which 72 people lost their lives. The action will take place alongside vigils in London and Edinburgh on the day. As a union with tenant power at its heart, we are clear that Grenfell remains the defining question of our time. The demand for justice is one that affects every single tenant, thousands of whom remain trapped in unsafe buildings, and millions more whose rights to adequate and affordable housing are violated every day.
At the launch of the Glasgow branch of Living Rent in July 2017, we stated that ‘Grenfell represented the ultimate demonstration of what happens when housing is turned into a commodity, and the lives of the poor, of the working class, are treated with contempt.’ We fully supported the demands made by residents and survivors. These included securing safe, permanent rehousing within the borough, and for criminal charges to brought against those responsible, including KCTMO and contractors.
Two years on, the survivors of Grenfell are still searching for justice. The public inquiry is moving at a snail’s pace, no arrests have been made, and the Met has stated that a decision on whether any criminal charges are brought could take until 2021.
Meanwhile, Rydon – one of the key contractors responsible for installing the deadly cladding on Grenfell Tower – recently announced that its profits in the year following the fire rose 50%. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has approved plans for hundreds of multi-million pound luxury flats, while Grenfell survivors continue to live in temporary accommodation. This includes one disabled resident moved to a hotel, and forced to leave the building to use the bathroom as her wheelchair is unable to fit through the door.
The contempt of the council for survivors was confirmed by a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which made clear that the state had failed in its duty to provide the right to adequate housing and to life, in particular for disabled people, older people, women and Muslim families. A recent study has shown that toxins from the fire have polluted the ground and the air around the site, leaving remaining residents vulnerable to ‘an increased risk of a number of health problems, from asthma to cancer.’
This is not what justice looks like. As Scotland’s Tenants’ Union, Living Rent is clear that only the organised power of tenants and local communities can secure the rights which were so blatantly denied to the victims of Grenfell.
We urge you to stand with us for safe and affordable housing for all, and to show that Glasgow stands with Grenfell.
A tower block in Maryhill with unfinished fireproof cladding.