‘THE COUNCIL needs to be shut down … Workers should take over and workers’ unions should defend them,’ Zoe Bernard from Ladbroke Grove, said on Wednesday evening.
She was speaking to News Line during the mass demonstration outside the Kensington and Chelsea Council meeting in which new Tory council leader Elizabeth Campbell was called a ‘murderer’ and told to immediately resign by survivors of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
Furious survivors of the fire and relatives of those who had perished pushed their way into the Kensington council meeting on Wednesday night and took it over. Outside the meeting Zoe Bernard continued: ‘My uncle died in the fire. Whatever they do won’t bring back the lives of those who died. The damage has been done.
‘We need a council that acts in the interests of ordinary people, not one that’s for the rich.’
The sickening contempt with which the council has treated the Grenfell Tower survivors is there for everyone to see.
As everyone knows, the fire broke out on 14 June 2017 and despite the best efforts of the firefighters a massive amount of men, women and children died. The figure put out by the police of 80 people who have lost their lives is simply not believed by the community who rightly insist that the real number of people who have died is much higher. The firefighters were battling the inferno with their hands tied behind their back as they have been stripped of vital equipment by the Tory government who have implemented cuts year after year.
In the aftermath of the fire the council were nowhere to be seen, as was the PM. It was left up to the local residents and the huge generosity of workers from around the country who donated tons of clothes, food, bedding and money to help the survivors and the families of those who died.
It was not until day three after the fire that the council was even seen or heard, there was no central command, no help centre set up and nothing done to rehouse the survivors and those who had been evacuated from the buildings in the immediate vicinity.
Furthermore the council were already hated for the policy of decanting – driving working class people out of the area. The expensive flats for the rich were all kitted out with sprinkler systems, smoke and fire alarms, fire escapes and fire doors while the working class were housed in dilapidated tower blocks with no fire safety measures, which have been shown to be death traps.
The council then put everyone in temporary accommodation in B&Bs, hostels and hotels. Last week it emerged that those who had been placed in emergency hotel accommodation had been informed by Kensington and Chelsea council that they would have to leave as the hotel had prior bookings that took precedence. They were given just hours to pack what few belongings they had and go.
The Grenfell survivors were treated so badly that the council leader was forced to resign. It is no surprise then that on the day the new Tory council leader Elizabeth Campbell was due to be ratified, the survivors stormed the council chamber and took the meeting over.
Mahad Egal screamed from the chamber: ‘Resign! I don’t trust you, I don’t trust your party . . . I don’t want you. My son doesn’t want you. My daughter doesn’t want you, my wife doesn’t want you. The dead doesn’t want you.’
It has become blindingly obvious that this shower of Tory councillors must be immediately swept aside and a Council of Action formed from the local community and the trade unions. This must take charge of the critical situation. It must requisition as many houses and hotels and empty properties as are necessary to permanently house all those who have been made homeless. It must use the millions of pounds of donations that have been collected to satisfy the immediate needs and just demands of those that have lost their families and friends. It must make sure that those responsible for the Grenfell Tower inferno stand trial for murder.
Kensington and Chelsea is well known for its class division. It is split between a struggling working class and a super rich ‘elite’ minority. With its refusal to even consider the hundreds of warnings that were made about Grenfell being an inferno just waiting to happen, the Council and the ruling class displayed their real class hostility and contempt for the working class and the poor. After all – making Grenfell Tower safe would have been a drain on profit!
A Council of Action of workers, residents and the trade unions will resolve this critical situation in Kensington in the interest of workers. In fact Councils of Action must be built all over the country to protect the interests of the working class from a greedy, rapacious and profit-hungry ruling class.
These Councils of Action must become the basis for organising a massively-supported general strike and a socialist revolution to put an end to a capitalist Britain that lives off of the working class, whose lives are cheap. It must be replaced with a workers socialist republic where the means of production are publicly owned and production is geared to satisfy people’s needs, including their housing and safety needs, and not to make a handfull of billionaires even richer!