Editor’s comment: Council must release risk assessments
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Two months have passed since Grenfell Tower went up in flames.
In the days and weeks that followed we saw something of a scramble across Britain’s town halls to test and remove cladding and to organise relief efforts.
But as time goes on, there’s been a longer-term project: to understand not just how Kensington and Chelsea failed so catastrophically but what social and economic currents left its tenants helpless when they had been so organised, vocal and articulate. A lot has been said about whether the decline of the local press in that borough might have allowed the council too much freedom to ignore the people it was meant to listen to.
It was only after protracted public pressure that our neighbours Camden Council actually agreed to publish Fire Risk Assessments for the Chalcots Estate, which was in such a bad state it had to be evacuated a few weeks ago. And I’m disappointed that Islington appears to be suffering the same reticence despite the demands of one of its own members – and rather more importantly the people who actually live on the Spa Green Estate.
They are fortunate to have someone like Thomas Cooper fighting their corner. Thomas contacted us and his local councillor, and was willing to put his neck out and show us around. It’s not great that things have got to this stage, but this is how scrutiny and the fourth estate are supposed to work.
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It is of no small urgency that Islington holds its hands up over the grim state of the fire safety at Spa Green – and makes the buildings safe. But for the sake of those who don’t have a Thomas to speak up for them, it must prove itself worthy of residents’ trust, too. That begins with releasing the FRAs. We shouldn’t have to ask twice.
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