`

Sorrow and anger: Grenfell, a year on

A woman looks at a wall of hearts with drawings and messages of support for the people who died in the Grenfell fire, outside the Notting Hill Methodist Church in West London. Picture: Getty Images
A woman looks at a wall of hearts with drawings and messages of support for the people who died in the Grenfell fire, outside the Notting Hill Methodist Church in West London. Picture: Getty Images
0
Have your say

They are calling it a show of solidarity on the London skyline: a glow of green light bathing the remains of Grenfell Tower and the surrounding high-rise blocks.

Yet neither the symbolism, nor the interregnum in the inquiry into the deadliest domestic blaze since the Second World War, to allow a moment of reflection on its first anniversary, could disguise the climate of anger and disaffection that remains.

The lights were turned on for four hours this morning at 12 London blocks and in Downing Street, and they will go on again for the next four evenings.

At 11am, there will be a service of remembrance at St Helen’s Church, organised by the campaign group Relative Justice Humanity for Grenfell. Some 73 white doves will be released – one for each victim and one for “the unknown”, said the organiser, Clarrie Mendy, who lost two family members in the fire.

But the anniversary is also defined by a litany of missed deadlines, apologies and calls for prosecutions.

The neighbourhood MP, elected four days before the blaze, last night rued her lack of influence when residents expressed to her their concerns on fire safety.

“I knew it could have been a risk,” said Labour’s Emma Dent Coad, as she accused the Conservative-controlled Kensington and Chelsea Council of treating victims with “disdain”.

“What’s happened in the past year has entrenched all my beliefs, all my perceptions of people,” she said.

“Maybe a feeling of vindication of everything that I had always thought. I’ve been proved to be right. I speak out but I do feel I was right.”

The council leader, Elizabeth Campbell, said she had hoped that all households displaced by the fire would be in permanent new homes within a year.

The Prime Minister had gone further in the days that followed the blaze, promising that the survivors would be rehoused within three weeks.

Neither target has been met. A year on, 68 households remain in emergency accommodation, mainly hotels, 52 are in temporary shelter and 83 are in permanent homes.

Mrs May apologised last night for not having met those affected on her first visit to the site, a year ago. She was heavily criticised at the time for talking only to the emergency services – and was heckled on subsequent visits.

“I didn’t, of course, on that first visit, meet members of the community or survivors and I’m sorry for not having met them then,” she told the media group Grenfell Speaks

The council, which owned the block, and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation, which ran it, have been told they are being investigated for possible corporate manslaughter.

But the Fire Brigades Union, whose members fought the flames, said it was dismayed that no-one had yet been arrested.

Its general secretary, Matt Wrack, said it was “obvious” that Grenfell was a “deathtrap”, and added: “We want to see prosecutions where appropriate. That means the business owners and those who failed to keep their premises safe.

“Our focus from here onwards will be to achieve real justice for Grenfell.”