Whitehall and other London councils take over Grenfell tower response

19 Jun 17

Civil servants and other local authority staff have been brought in to take over the response to the tragic Grenfell tower fire.

This follows growing criticism of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s reaction to the tragedy.

Yesterday, it was announced that a newly formed Grenfell Fire Response Team would assume the lead role in handling the disaster, including helping the victims who were made homeless.

On Friday afternoon RBKC invoked an “established resilience response” – a council policy that means it hands control over to the emergency services in the case of major incidents.

PF has approached RBKC for comment.

The new taskforce includes London-wide local and regional government, central government, British Red Cross, the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade.

It comes as the expected death toll rose to 79. There have been five confirmed deaths while another 74 people are missing, feared dead.

Prime minister Theresa May said over the weekend the support on the ground for families in the wake of the tragedy was “not good enough”.

She said: “I have heard the concerns and I have ordered immediate action across the board to help victims’ relatives and the survivors.”

Yesterday, Eleanor Kelly, chief executive of Southwark Council – who is part of the resilience response team – said: “We want to make clear that whilst the emergency and local community response was nothing short of heroic, we know that the initial response was simply not good enough on the ground.

“People are angry, and rightfully so.

“Our focus is now ensuring those affected are being cared for and looked after.”

John Barradell, City of London Corporation chief executive, is leading the response team. Kelly is one of several London-based council chief executives also involved in the response team.

The response team is providing 24-hour support at the Westway Sports & Fitness Centre where those affected by the fire can get help with housing needs, emergency funds, health and social care services.

Thus far the authorities have provided emergency accommodation for 201 households, of which 113 are now homeless as a result of the fire.

On Sunday the government announced further details of a £5m emergency fund established in the wake of the blaze.

From today, every household whose home has been destroyed as a result of the fire will receive a guaranteed £5,500 minimum down payment from the fund.

This will be made up of a £500 cash payment and £5,000 delivered through the Department of Work and Pensions into bank accounts or similar in a single payment

On Saturday, May met with surviving residents and volunteers from Grenfell tower and sought to reassure them about the government’s response, reiterating that she would establish a judge-led public inquiry which would report directly to her.

May said she would take personal responsibility for implementing its findings.

The prime minister also ordered councils across the country to complete urgent safety checks on similar tower blocks and that if needed action “will be taken” to address safety issues in these buildings.

 

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