Grenfell: Kensington borough has residents with TB and rickets, warns local MP

Labour's Emma Dent Coad says devastating poverty is sparking return of preventable Victorian illnesses in UK's richest area

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Monday 13 November 2017 01:15
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‘This has been brewing for a very long time,’ said Emma Dent Coad
‘This has been brewing for a very long time,’ said Emma Dent Coad

Residents in the Grenfell Tower borough are suffering from tuberculosis and rickets, Kensington’s MP has warned in a shocking report on inequality affecting the UK’s richest local authority.

Labour’s Emma Dent Coad warned Victorian illnesses were returning due to devastating poverty levels affecting some of Kensington’s roughly 160,000 residents.

The damning report, titled “After Grenfell: Housing and Inequality in Kensington and Chelsea”, found multiple instances of children being admitted to hospital with hypocalceamic shock that caused them to collapse due to a lack of calcium.

The findings were particularly stark in the northern Golborne ward, where Ms Dent Coad was a councillor, with 51 per cent of children living in poverty and the average life expectancy for a man more than 20 years lower than in Hans Town ward where Harrods is situated.

Ms Dent Coad told The Independent the report exposes extremes of inequality in the borough that prove “trickle down” does not exist.

“This has been brewing for a very, very long time. Children were coming to school with loose teeth and I spoke to some dentists in the area and they explained, 'It’s not sugar, it’s not eating too many sweets. It’s malnutrition',” she said.

“It’s malnutrition in the womb, perinatal malnutrition which causes the babies to be born undersized and without enough calcium in their bodies. We have had some children collapsing at school.”

The report also highlights the huge disparity in average income across Kensington’s 18 wards.

The mean average income is £45,000, but a third of all workers – the majority living in the north of the borough – earn below £20,000, the report found. The average house price in Kensington is £1.4m.

A global spotlight was shone on the borough’s divisions in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in June that killed at least 80 people.

How the Grenfell Tower fire happened, explained

Ms Dent Coad said the “entirely preventable atrocity” had revealed an inequality chasm, which, she believes, has been created through years of poor political decision-making and financial mismanagement.

“There is no trickle down, if it existed we wouldn’t have people with their teeth falling out from such a young age, if we can’t even feed children in Kensington then you know we have to stop pretending that trickle down exists,” she said.

“Most politicians don’t actually look at the way health is affected by government cuts, wage freezes, all the things that have been happening over the last few years that force people to economise on everything – like buying their children cheap filling food that is not nutritious.”

Chris Williamson, shadow fire minister said Kensington and Chelsea can be seen as a “microcosm of society at large”.

“It is a place where inequality has become a gross spectacle. Where childhood poverty, overcrowding and homelessness live cheek by jowl with opulent second homes, palatial apartments for the mega rich and vast outflows of rent to corporate landlords,” he said.

Ms Dent Coad said there was a clear “political will” to tackle the problem, adding: “Let that be our legacy for Grenfell.”

It comes just days after The Independent revealed two-thirds of the families who lost their homes in the Grenfell Tower fire are still living in hotel-type accommodation almost five months after the blaze.

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