Council lawyer’s letter to #Grenfell blogger: stop ‘harrassing’ us

The news channels and social media are still, rightly, full of footage of the terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington and its aftermath. As the SKWAWKBOX showed on Wednesday, there are serious questions to answer about the design of the building and its fire alarm system – and the actions of the Tories, including former mayor and now Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who is hotly tipped as the party’s next leader.

Johnson betrayed a lack of concern and seriousness about the safety of Londoners from fire when, in 2013, he scoffed at London Assembly Members’ worries about the impact of his cuts to the number of fire stations and firefighters – going so far as to tell one AM to ‘get stuffed’ for questioning him (video).

The news media are rightly reporting the warnings issued by the Grenfell Action Group (GAG) blog that its warnings about the dangers of the building would only be heeded when a disaster occurred.

But what they are not reporting is that the Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council threatened the GAG with legal action if it did not delete its posts criticising the performance of the council and its officers for their actions/inaction concerning the risks.

The council’s senior solicitor sent this intimidating letter to a Mr O’Connor of the GAG blog in 2013:

council threat grenfell.png

The SKWAWKBOX cannot comment on the accuracy of the letter’s claims in terms of the statements made by the GAG blog, but it is of deeply troubling that the council seems to have wanted to silence a group pleading for action to secure the safety of hundreds of people in a tower block, rather than take its concerns seriously and work with the residents toward a solution.

The terrible tragedy of this morning puts beyond doubt that those concerns were justified – and this letter raises further serious questions about the events that led up to this completely avoidable disaster.

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  1. Successive housing acts have placed the financial interests of landlords above the safety and security of residents.

    This terrible and avoidable catastrophe highlights the need to urgently draft a new Housing Act which places the safety and security of residents first and foremost in all housing considerations.

    1. This is important, but not really the issue here. Our homes are Council homes – Kensington & Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO) are the organisation to whom Kensington and Chelsea council have devolved management of their social housing .

    2. Actually thinking about it, you might be right abd finances might be an issue – although in this case it is more related to the way budgets have been cut.

      One thing that seems obvious to me is that significant repairs/refurbishment are being done for the cheapest tender and never mind the conscientiousness of the company.

      Among many other examples is that of the kitchen/bathroom refurbishment I had done a couple of years ago.

      I have no problems with the fitters, plumbers, painters who actually did the work. It was clear they were dedicated, hard-working and courteous (in fact I wish Farage could meet them as they were mainly EU migrants).

      However what I did notice was the extreme pressure they appeared to be under – literally running from room to room at times, with sweat pouring off them. The obvious conclusion is that their company was trying to complete the work in unrealistic time scales for cost-management purposes.

      Anway, the winter after the works finished I noticed the flat was freezing all of a sudden, with unexplained draughts. After an exasperating period trying to work out what on earth was going on, I noticed a growing and nauseating smell.

      I spent ages trying to locate the source of this smell without success – until it occurred to me to lift up the skirting around the kitchen units and look underneath. I was horrified to find mountains of rat droppings. (I had never experienced a rodent problem in the previous 20 years).

      When the Pest Control officer came around she took one look, rolled her eyes and said “oh – you’ve had your kitchen done”.

      What turned out to be the problem were holes left in the walls after the works where rats could enter, which explained the drop in temperature. Apparently the pest officer was getting other calls from TMO residents who had also suffered ingress from pests etc after refurbishment works.

      There’s actually a lot more to this – including the fire risk saga I referred to below. However the stories get so bizarre some of them are quite specific (I got trapped in my flat in one incident) and I don’t want to risk being identified.

  2. *I wanted to post the following on the Canary’s relevant page too – but now way am I signing up to Facebook, so if some kind soul could post for me or anywhere else I’d be grateful. I hope I’m not breaking any rules, but this is not my real name*

    I live on a neiarby estate and – like so many others – can confirm the stories about the devolved management organisation that is KCTMO and its exasperating, kafkaesque, quasi-private/corporatist approach – a symptom of the fetish for contracting out that began with NHS cleaning services all those years ago and which has had such detrimental effects on infection control there.

    I could tell you similar stories – including a saga involving a fire risk – but for me the real story behind this is the secret desire by the hard right Tory borough to sweep the poor, workless and those relying on disability and housing benefits like myself out of our last enclave in the North of the borough. This will complete the council’s rampant social/ethnic cleansing project in RBK&C – a phenomenon that is sweeping over all of Central London as anybody who’s lived her for more than the last ten to fiteen years will understand.

    The Grenfell blog has a page on it here


    I was actually told a similar story during an informal chat with a TMO employee when he attended my home for a routine matter, but dismissed it (or perhaps was too scared to allow myself to believe it).

    The prima facie negligence in this tragedy is of course vital to expose, but please also help expose the murky roots of this story too. The same destruction of poor communities is being attempted across London, but now the rats have been exposed to the light at just the moment when there are signs the hitherto impregnable neoliberal heist might just be showing cracks. Let’s not waste the opportunity.

  3. These kind of threats to politically connected bloggers are a growth industry in 21st Century UK.

    It’s ironic how citizens are encouraged by national and local politicians to become engaged, because when they do, and if it isn’t on their terms, then expect threats from on high.

    The poor calibre of public servant at a senior level means we can expect a cover up of whatever truth lies behind the Grenfell Tower – as night follows day.

  4. The tactic of the pederast: “Tell anyone and we’ll get you”.

    And like the westminster pederasts, these things are generally being ignored (Or given no more than a passing, insignificant mention) by the MSM.

    A few ‘z’ list celebrities thrown in jail makes the westminster elite think something’s being done about nonces in the eyes of Joe Public; while they carry on covering for their abhorrent, depraved practices and threatening litigation at the drop of a hat…Exactly what has happened here, it’s evident. It’s just nowhere’s near satisfactory.

    Nobody in senior positions connected to this tragedy will cop a conviction, nor any sort of meaningful censure. The poor blue-collar sods what fitted the cladding, or did the electrics etc, but had no say about the materials quality and suchlike, will be the ones what get it,

    As I said in another post yesterday – “Sh*t rolls downhill”.

  5. Boris Johnson really disappoint me. I used to like him despite he was Tory but I thought that he was imaginative and flamboyant. Somehow I liked his bold approach. This snap general election he showed so much about his negative side of characters. He is bully and superficial and does not care of majority people. He represents a very bad image of Tory, Hasty, Nasty and Bully. This Tower Inferno incident, his policy is part of responsibility for people lived there. Tory seven years in charge of the Country are now revealing one by one, from the snap general election, London Bridge Extremists and Grenfell Tower Inferno show that entire failure of the Government. The Government have to be changed as soon as possible, appear the most sensible thing to do.

  6. Typical Nasty Party Tories ; when the truth comes out they will have covered their usual incompetent spiteful backs & laid the blame on a scapegoat;
    Nothings been said about that bum Boris buying in a water cannon (to quell protesters) while aiding and applauding the destruction of our Fire Brigade service by HIS Government…

  7. This isn’t just a city problem. The country land owners who own and control huge swathes of our countryside and village communities are just as negligent and corrupt.

    The private landlord sector is corrupt to its core and only its total abolition would solve the problem.

    1. Quite correct. Landlords nationwide are raking it in and neglecting peoples safety, aided & abetted by a conservative party that has a large proportion of ‘rachmans’ within it.

      The selfsame conservatives complain about the welfare spending being out of control, but the amount going to private landlords is astronomical….Are we getting value for money?

      Are we shite. People are dying because of THEIR GREED.

      And this is why imbeciles that are complaining that people are somehow making ‘political capital’ of the issue get right up my nose.

  8. am hoping Grenfall tower is being treated as a crime scene. With full security. One of those intact panels shown on media needs removing forensically and testing for construction and safety. Greed &shareholder dividends has actually cost lives this time .. Not May cost lives

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