The horrific London fire at Grenfell Tower, which has so far claimed the lives of at least 12 residents, is being blamed on the alleged neglect of the property management team who were responsible for the upkeep of the 24-storey high-rise tower block. While the previous number of deaths that were originally reported have now jumped to 12, Met Commander Stuart Cundy says that he expects the death toll to continue rising and that it is believed there will be no further survivors found, as The Guardian reported.
Construction of the Grenfell Tower began in 1972 and was completed in 1974. While originally council-owned, in 1996 it was given to the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organization (KCTMO) to look after and maintain. However, the council still owns the property, according to a council representative who spoke to the Daily Mail.
“The Council still owns the properties and retains responsibility for strategic housing policies and homeless people. The relationship between the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation and the Council is governed by a management agreement, which covers all areas of the landlord business Whilst the KCTMO still enjoys a close working relationship with the Council, it is a completely separate company.”
Residents of Grenfell Tower have found themselves outraged over what they perceive as the KCTMO’s inability to manage this property and to protect its residents, as evidenced by the fact that an email from 2014 shows residents complaining that there was only one entrance and one exit to the enormous high rise, with the fire escape on the walkway level completely sealed off.
The Grenfell Action Group had repeatedly warned the KCTMO about the threat of fire at Grenfell Tower, yet their pleas and warnings fell on deaf ears. For years, the Grenfell Action Group has been posting a blog about the many issues that the KCTMO has allegedly refused to deal with, and fire safety is just one of the many issues that the property management company reportedly failed to address.
Not only were there no loud fire alarms sounding to alert sleeping residents of Grenfell Tower to the huge fire earlier this morning, but there were also no water sprinklers installed either, which would have been crucial in saving the lives of residents in the high-rise.
— Lewis Hamilton (@LewisHamilton) June 14, 2017
Even the fire safety warnings posted along Grenfell Tower offered poor advice and urged residents that if there was a fire elsewhere in the block, residents should stay inside their flat for safety reasons. However, the residents who survived believed that it would make more sense to try and escape the 24-storey inferno rather than risk staying in their flats with no sprinkler system or real fire escapes and just one exit out of the building.
The KCTMO is run by CEO Robert Black and Executive Director of Financial Services Barbara Matthews. Also heading up the property management team is Executive Director of People and Performance Yvonne Birch and Sacha Jevans, who is the Executive Director of Operations. All four of these individuals pulled in a salary of £650,000 last year it has been reported.
Besides placing blame on the property management company that was in charge of Grenfell Tower in London, there are also those who are pointing fingers at the Conservative Party and individuals like Boris Johnson in particular. In 2013, a YouTube video shows London Mayor Boris Johnson uttering the words, “Oh, get stuffed,” in response to a Labour politician who spoke of worrying cuts to London’s fire services.
Others are also placing blame on ministers like Theresa May’s new chief of staff Gavin Barwell, who allegedly “sat” on reports that warned of serious fire risks for high-rise buildings like Grenfell Tower. The Mirror reported that Barwell promised that he would review part of the Building Regulations 2010, and specifically part B which deals with fire safety, yet Gavin Barwell’s report never appeared.
Were you affected by the Grenfell Tower fire in London and who do you think holds most of the blame for this accident?
[Featured Image by Stringer/Getty Images]