Wealthy Kensington resident says Grenfell Tower victims shouldn't be given shelter in luxury flats

 The woman asked LBC listeners to 'stand in my shoes' as she complained that her council tax bill might increase if people were re-housed in her building

Greg Wilford
Saturday 24 June 2017 15:54
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Kensington resident: I'll move out if the Grenfell residents move into my complex

A wealthy Kensington resident claimed she would leave her luxury block of flats if victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy were given shelter there, telling a radio host the accommodation "shouldn't be given for free".

The woman, called Donna, asked LBC listeners to "stand in my shoes" as she complained that her council tax bill might increase if people were re-housed in her building, which she said has a £15,500 annual service charge.

She told radio host Shelagh Fogart she would be "resentful" if those who lost their homes in the recent fire were allowed to move in because she has worked "very hard" to afford her property.

The call-in followed news that families who survived the Grenfell Tower blaze will be relocated to 68 social homes in the Kensington Row development, where prices range from £1.5m to £8.5m.

Donna said: "My service charge bill, and this is a low one this year, is £15,500, and I would feel really resentful if someone got the same thing for free.

“I feel sorry for those people, but my husband and I work very hard to be able to afford this.

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“And for someone to get it free... I would move.

“Our council tax bill is very, very high, our service charge bill is very, very high, so why should someone get it for free?

“I know it sounds harsh, believe me I feel sorry for those people, but I work very, very hard and so does my husband.”

Ms Forgarty replied: "Donna, it does sound harsh, you sound hard-hearted.”

Donna continued: "I'm not hard-hearted, but When I'm paying that kind of money and someone else is getting it for free, if you stand in my shoes you can say that because you're not.

"It's like paying a rent to stay in your house, £15,500 a year."

Donna said the accommodation shouldn't be given for free "because my council tax will go even higher", adding: "Nobody gives me anything for free."

The Homes and Communities Agency acquired one, two, and three-bedroom flats in the Kensington Row block on behalf of the Government as part of their rescue plan for Grenfell Tower residents.

The apartments were always going to be used as social housing, but the developer St Edward is now helping to get them ready for occupation faster.

The flats were originally due for occupation between October and December. Now they are expected to be ready at the end of July.

The Government is also helping to subsidise the more rapid turnaround, which a spokesperson said would cost £2m-£3m, with the money coming out of the Communities department budget.

Residents will be housed separately from the luxury apartments in two purpose-built “affordable housing” blocks.

They won’t have access to the development's gym or the pool, and the design of the flats will be more modest than those of their wealthy neighbours.

The death toll from the horrific Grenfell Tower fire currently stands at 79, but could rise as investigations continue.

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