1,652 empty properties in North Kensington – only 12 Grenfell Tower families rehoused

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THE LABOUR Party yesterday called the revelation that 1,652 properties in North Kensington are unoccupied ‘simply unacceptable’.

A local resident and community activist told News Line that he agreed with the statement made by Labour leader Corbyn immediately after the fire on 14th June, when he said that empty properties should be requisitioned and handed to those made homeless by the fire.

John Healey, Labour’s shadow housing minister however refused to repeat Corbyn’s call. He said: ‘When the country is already in the grip of a housing crisis, the fact that properties are left empty is simply unacceptable.

‘The government has long been aware of this problem, and with survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire still to be rehoused seven weeks after the tragedy it is more necessary than ever for ministers to take action.’

He then outlined his idea of what Labour would do. This did not include requisition. North Kensington resident and community activist Shirvin Best told News Line: ‘The empty properties around the area which are just left empty should be taken over.

‘There are a lot of people made homeless by the fire and I totally agree with what Jeremy Corbyn said, that the empty properties should be taken over and handed to the people made homeless by the Grenfell Tower fire.

‘I totally disagree with the use of property as an investment. Homes should be lived in, not left empty just to accrue value. The properties should be taken over. We should shut down K&C local authority, they’ve shown themselves to be useless for the people.

‘It was the community that got together and people who got involved with the donations, the funding, the water, it was the community that got everything done for Grenfell, not K&C, they have failed completely and so has the government as well. It’s a national disaster. I’ve spoken to many people who are still in hotels. They need to be rehoused in the area, not in a tower block. They should be re-housed now in these empty homes.’

Among the empty properties is former Brompton Road tube station building, vacant since it was bought for £53m by the Ukrainian oligarch Dmytro Firtash in 2014. Michael Bloomberg, the media billionaire and former New York mayor, bought a seven-bedroom mansion for £16m in 2015 which remains empty.

Other unoccupied properties are owned by offshore companies, including Dukes Lodge London, part of Christian Candy’s luxury property business; and Smech Properties, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the vice-president of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai.