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Failed communities unite to demand government action on Grenfell anniversary

VICTIMS of the government’s systemic failures have demanded that the next prime minister take recommendations from public inquiries seriously.

Communities affected by the infected blood scandal, Covid and the Grenfell fire are calling for a new mechanism to ensure that their struggles are not in vain.

They have joined forces on the seventh anniversary of the Grenfell Tower blaze, in which 72 residents were killed after a fire ripped through the 24-storey block in north Kensington.

Campaigners united for the annual memorial walk from Notting Hill Methodist Church this evening. 

Lobby Akinnola from the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice (CBFFJ) said he was “honoured to stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with Grenfell survivors, and all victims of state failures who continue to fight for justice and reform.”

He backed calls for a national oversight mechanism to “help make sure that recommendations turn into action and action turns into change.”

He lost his dad to Covid “because the government failed to protect him and systems like the 111 service failed to account for skin colour.”

Edward Daffarn, from Grenfell United, who lived on the 16th floor of the tower block said: “It’s really important that communities impacted by these disasters stand together. We can’t all fight individually.”

He said the message to government is simple: “They need to ensure that recommendations that come out of public inquiries are implemented.”

The final report from the Grenfell inquiry is due to be published in September.

The Met Police says it will need another 12-18 months to assess the report, meaning trials may not take place until 2028.

In a statement, Justice4Grenfell said that the fire was not an isolated incident but “part of a disturbing pattern of systemic failures and injustices.”

The inquiry’s failure so far to deliver justice was “a glaring example of government failure, an unwillingness to take responsibility, and a broader neglect of social justice.”

Four out of 15 recommendations from the first part of the inquiry are still outstanding. 

Among them is a legal obligation for owners and managers of high-rises to provide personal emergency evacuation plans (Peeps) for disabled tenants.

Inclusion London co-chair Adam Gabsi who lives on the sixth floor of a high rise said he had to “shout” to get a Peep after the lifts in his building stopped working.

He said: “How can a landlord put a value on my tenancy but no value on my life? It’s something that doesn’t make sense to me.

“How do I have increased service charge but not increased service? I’m paying a service charge for what?

“I think disabled people, on the whole, feel totally let down.”

Mr Daffarn said: “The fact that disabled people living in high-rise buildings are in just as much danger today as they were prior to the Grenfell Tower fire, despite an explicit recommendation in the phase one report that this issue needs to be addressed by landlords, is nothing short of a scandal.”

The tower’s flammable cladding was a primary cause in spreading the fire. 

The government has identified 4,336 buildings taller than 11 metres with unsafe cladding, but only 23 per cent have been fully remediated.

There are still 42 buildings standing in London which have the same aluminium composite material cladding that Grenfell had. 

The Fire Brigades Union has called on the next government to “end the crime of deregulation, with proper standards and oversight of building materials, design and evacuation plans.”

A coalition of campaigners and MPs called Hillsborough Law Now since has been calling since 2022 for a new legal duty of candour on public authorities and officials, and for the provision of legal aid for victims.

On Thursday, Labour promised in its manifesto to introduce the law.

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