PM: Support for fire victims ‘not good enough’

18 Jun

It comes as former chief fire officer Ronnie King says urgent requests for meetings with ministers and action to tighten rules were stonewalled.

Mr King, who is secretary of the all-party parliamentary group on fire safety, also said ministers failed to insist that sprinkler systems be mandatory in new schools in England, despite clear recommendations in reports commissioned by the Government itself.

Mr King told The Observer: “They seem to need a disaster to change regulations, rather than evidence and experience. It was the same with the King’s Cross fire and the Bradford City football club fire.

“They always seem to need a significant loss of life before things are changed.”

Grenfell Tower
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Dozens of people are feared to still be inside Grenfell Tower

The Prime Minister acknowledged the “huge frustrations” residents have experienced in trying to get answers from the council – and she vowed the public inquiry into the deadly blaze will be “open and transparent”.

Mrs May said the name of the judge who will head the inquiry will be announced in the next few days.

The PM also confirmed that she will be responsible for implementing the inquiry’s findings.

The newly elected Labour MP for Kensington, Emma Dent Coad, says she has heard reports that some of the Grenfell victims have been sent outside the borough with just £10 a day to live on.

In a letter to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, she said such cases must be “addressed without delay” if they are accurate.


Aalya Moses and her family

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Resident Aalya Moses lost everything in fire

Mrs May said: “I can confirm that a £5m emergency fund that I announced yesterday is now being distributed on the ground so people can buy clothes, food and other essentials. If more funding is required, it will be provided.

“Residents rightly want to know when new housing will be provided. I have fixed a deadline of three weeks for everybody affected to be found a home nearby.”

Mrs May added that she has requested “daily progress reports” to ensure victims are re-homed quickly.

Protests have taken place in Whitehall as survivors met with the PM at Downing Street
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Protests have taken place in Whitehall as survivors met with the PM at Downing Street

London mayor Sadiq Khan has called for re-housing efforts to be “speeded up” and pressed Mrs May to make sure “the recovery operation receives all resources and expertise they need”.

He also wrote in The Observer about the future of such tower blocks, saying: “Nowadays we would not dream of building towers to the standards of the 1970s but their inhabitants still have to live with that legacy.

“It may well be the defining outcome of this tragedy that the worst mistakes of the 1960s and 1970s are systematically torn down.”

  1. Mariem Elgwahry
    Mariem Elgwahry
  2. Ali Yawar Jafari
    Ali Yawar Jafari
  3. Jessica Urbano
    Jessica Urbano
  4. Mohamed 'Saber' Neda. Pic: Reshad Habib
    Mohamed 'Saber' Neda. Pic: Reshad Habib
  5. Mary Mendy, who is in her late 50s, was in her 20th floor flat with daughter Khadija Saye
    Mary Mendy, who is in her late 50s, was in her 20th floor flat with daughter Khadija Saye

On Saturday afternoon, victims of the tower block fire – along with volunteers and community leaders – met with the Prime Minister at Downing Street for two-and-a-half hours.

The Bishop of Kensington, Dr Graham Tomlin, attended the talks and said: “There was passion, there was anger, but there was good, hard, reasoned argument used by the residents.”

Victims, volunteers and community leaders from the Grenfell Tower disaster on the steps of Downing Street
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Grenfell residents and volunteers met with Theresa May for two-and-a-half hours

He believes residents left the meeting feeling “reassured that they were listened to”, but added: “Time will tell as to whether it makes a difference. We wait to see what action will come from it.”

Residents are also understood to be meeting with lawyers on Sunday evening.

There is also a minute’s silence planned at 11am on Monday to remember the victims.

Police now say 58 people who were in Grenfell Tower on the night of the blaze are missing and presumed dead, including 30 confirmed fatalities. That number may rise.

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