Grenfell Tower: A Fancy Name May Make It Appear More Respectable

A rabbit warren is still a rabbit warren no matter what fancy name you give it.

It never ceases to amaze me how those with so much have no thought for, regard for, or knowledge of, those with so little. The massive fire this week at Grenfell Towers in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London, serves to highlight this in such a way even the media commentators are having trouble hiding their disgust at the manner in which the richest borough in the city has penny-pinched on providing safe housing for those much less well-off than themselves.

The poor folk of Grenfell Towers, and the other high-rise rabbit warrens on that ‘housing complex’, have some well known neighbours. The Beckhams live in the borough, as do Jeremy Paxman (well-known broadcaster and political hob-nob), Sir Richard Branson, Sir Evelyn de Rothschild, James Dyson (vacuum cleaner mogul), J K Rowling, Sir Elton John, Eric Clapton, Bernie Ecclestone…and the list goes on – there’s a short list of fifty of the wealthiest people in the country, listed HERE (courtesy of the Evening Standard), all Kensington and Chelsea residents . They’re all neighbours of those residents who lived, and died, in Grenfell Towers.

How house prices compare:

Average in Kensington and Chelsea

Average for UK

£66,384 Increase in average Kensington and Chelsea price since 2016
Source: Land Registry

Of course, the rich and famous mostly vote Tory. Well, it saves them money, particularly when one of their political representatives…

…the “Right Honorable” Brandon Lewis MP, now Minister for Immigration, but in 2014 was Minister for Housing, refused to consider regulations that would have forced building developers to fit sprinkler systems, on the grounds “…it might discourage house building.”

The former Conservative housing minister warned against increasing fire safety regulations to include sprinklers because it could discourage house building.

As the death toll from the Grenfell Tower blaze rose to 12 [now 17, and rising], it emerged Brandon Lewis, who was recently promoted to immigration minister, declined in 2014 to force building developers to fit sprinklers.

A sprinkler system would have “undoubtedly” saved lives at the Grenfell Tower blaze, the managing director of the Fire Protection Association told The Independent.

“Whether they’d have stopped that fire spreading at the speed it did up the outside of that building is another matter,” Jon O’Neill said. “But to have had sprinklers in that building would have created an environment where it would have been easier to rescue people and increase survivability.”

Mr Lewis’ department [Housing] declined to bring in regulation forcing developers to fit sprinklers while he was in charge.

He told MPs: “We believe that it is the responsibility of the fire industry, rather than the Government, to market fire sprinkler systems effectively and to encourage their wider installation.”

He said the Tory Government had committed to being the first to reduce regulations nationwide. [1]

He openly admitted that the Tory government was hellbent on reducing safety regulations throughout the country. The only possible reason – more profits in the pockets of the wealthy developers and to hell with the lives and suffering of the peasants that are housed by them – they’re expendable.

Chief of these racketeers, prime minister Theresa May, has been forced to agree to a public enquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower. Anything less would have caused her loss of face. Public enquiries in the UK cost a lot of money (paid by taxpayers), make a lot of noise, and generally result in a whitewash.

We’ll wait and see what this one brings, but they’ll likely make sure to drag it out until the media memory of Grenfell Tower has faded, and other news replaces it in the headlines.

“Grenfell Tower”: they truly believe that by giving them fancy names they can make them appear respectable.

[1] “Grenfell Tower: Tory minister declined to include sprinklers in fire safety rules as it could discourage house building” The Independent, June 15th 2017

4 Replies to “Grenfell Tower: A Fancy Name May Make It Appear More Respectable”

  1. Horrible, tragic event, RJ – makes my BP rise just thinking of it, especially after reading the list of names of other Kensington locals.

    When I first heard about the fire, and its location I assumed it’d be involving a luxury apartment complex, Kensington having the erm…..cachet… it has had in the past. I was shocked and dismayed to discover it was council housing, and for many of the poorest segment of London’s population. What’s the betting Grenfell will not be demolished and replaced with a new and better council housing tower, but with a luxury building with multi-million-pound rentals. The poor and homeless…tsk – plenty of cardboard boxes and bridges to go around. 🙁

  2. Twilight – no chance of it being a luxury apartment block, they’re all well fire-proofed with sprinklers and technological wizardry.
    Plasticized cladding for the plebs because it was two pounds a metre cheaper than the fire-proof variety. I haven’t been able to establish the exact dimensions of the building but it was 67 metres high and from images I’d guess the footprint at about 20 metres x 4. If my arithmatic is correct that would work out at just over 5000 m2, but that’s without all the windows, of which there were many, about 770 by my reckoning. Even allowing just 1m2 per window, that’s reduces the m2 cladding figure to 4,200 m2. The additional cost of using fireproof cladding throughout for the renovations in 2016 would have been under 10,000 pounds. Less than 1% on a contract worth 10 million pounds.
    Interestingly, the original tender from the Leadbitter Group was 1.6 million over budget, so it was contracted out to Rydon’s who tendered for 1.6 million pounds less, or to put it another way: Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) said to Rydon’s: the budget’s 10,000,000. Tender at that and you’ll get the job. Rydon’s had to penny-pinch to achieve that. The result was around ninety dead people.

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