Private company responsible for Grenfell Tower maintenance asks public to donate money to help fire victims

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation faces tough questions over whether residents' concerns over fire safety were listened to

Benjamin Kentish@BenKentish
Thursday 15 June 2017 23:17
Remains of furniture are seen through the windows as smoke still emerges from the charred Grenfell Tower
Remains of furniture are seen through the windows as smoke still emerges from the charred Grenfell Tower

The company responsible for managing the Grenfell Tower block that was engulfed by fire is asking the public to help cover the cost of supporting the victims of the blaze.

Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation (KCTMO), which is facing accusations over alleged safety failings at the 24-story tower, has asked people to donate to a fund set up by a local charity to help those affected by the fire.

The company claimed “every penny raised will go to those affected” but did not say if it would be donating any more itself. Critics have suggested it should not be relying on public donations to help tenants who have lost homes and belongings and, in some cases, family and friends.

The Independent has contacted KCTMO for comment. The company said in an earlier statement that it was “doing everything it can to assist the residents of Grenfell Tower”.

Twelve people are confirmed to have died in the fire and almost 80 are being treated in hospital, 18 of them in critical care. Police said they expected the death toll to rise.

KCTMO is accused of failing to ensure the safety of tenants in the tower block. The company was reviewing the building’s fire safety policy at the time of the fire.

It emerged in the hours after the incident that residents had repeatedly raised concerns about the building’s fire safety. The Grenfell Action Group, a campaign group set up by residents, warned last year: “It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO.”

Reports suggest the building was covered in flammable cladding in order to make it look nicer to people in nearby luxury homes.

Although the tower underwent a £10.3m renovation that was completed in May 2016, it continued to have just one emergency exit, which residents had warned would become blocked in the case of a fire.

The building contained 120 flats and was home to more than 200 people.

KCTMO described the fire as a “tragedy” and said it was wrong to speculate about what caused it.

“We wish to repeat our sincere and heartfelt condolences to all those who have been affected as a result of this devastating event at Grenfell Tower”, the company said in a statement “We also wish to pay tribute to the bravery of the emergency services and to those members of the public who continue to selflessly do all they can to assist.

“The events of last night and early this morning are a tragedy. KCTMO, in conjunction with RBKC and others, is doing everything it can to assist the residents of Grenfell Tower and those affected by the tragedy. This will remain our immediate concern and focus.

“It is too early to speculate what caused the fire and contributed to its spread. We will co-operate fully with all the relevant authorities in order to ascertain the cause of this tragedy.

“We are aware that concerns have been raised historically by residents. We always take all concerns seriously and these will form part of our forthcoming investigations. While these investigations continue with our co-operation, our core priority at the moment is our residents.”

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