Sadiq Khan castigates Theresa May over Grenfell Tower response in open letter demanding 'urgent' action

'Please confirm as a matter of urgency that everyone from Grenfell Tower and other evacuated properties will be rehoused locally immediately,' says London mayor

Richard A. L. Williams
Friday 16 June 2017 15:23 BST
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan leaves Notting Hill Methodist Church near Grenfell Tower
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan leaves Notting Hill Methodist Church near Grenfell Tower (PA)

Sadiq Khan has condemned the Government's response to the Grenfell Tower disaster, in an open letter demanding action as a "matter of urgency".

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, ​the London mayor said residents in the area were becoming increasingly angry at the failure of the authorities to do more to help them.

Following his visit to the area on Thursday, he listed a series of measures to improve support for victims, organise relief operations and deal with concerns about tower block safety.

"I spent several hours yesterday talking to local residents around Grenfell Tower.

"These were difficult conversations with a tight-knit community that is understandably distraught, frustrated and increasingly angry," he wrote.

"They feel the Government and local council haven't done enough to help them in the aftermath of this horrific incident, or to provide answers to their increasingly urgent questions.

"I promised the local community that I would fight for them to get the support and answers they deserve as quickly as possible.

"I am therefore writing to you today to set out the action that I believe the Government needs to take, as a matter of urgency."

Mr Khan said the local community felt its grief has been made worse by the lack of information about missing family members and friends.

"I appreciate that the authorities want to be absolutely certain that any information is correct before it is issued publicly, and the fire brigade, police and coroner are doing a heroic job obtaining this information in extremely difficult circumstances," he said.

"While the current systems in place may work well for a terrorist attack, there are legitimate questions about whether they are still appropriate in situations where obtaining this information could take much longer."

When it came to the organisation and coordination of relief and support services in Kensington, Mr Khan said he had heard "multiple stories" of local residents not being able to access the information they needed and being given conflicting advice by the local authority.

"The scale of this tragedy is clearly proving too much for the local authority to cope with on their own," he wrote.

"For example, the local authority believe they found housing for all residents affected last night, however there are reports that this was not communicated effectively and some residents are still sleeping in the Westway Sports Centre or with family and friends.

"Please confirm as a matter of urgency that everyone from Grenfell Tower and other evacuated properties will be rehoused locally immediately."

Mr Khan said ministers also needed urgently to update the public on the process of checking other tower blocks across the country with cladding like that used in the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.

"People are terrified that the same thing could happen to them," he said.

"If the Government has any reason to believe specific tower blocks could be at risk, residents should be re-homed in the local area immediately, while these checks take place."

Mr Khan also called on Mrs May to make clear when the terms of reference of the public inquiry which she announced on Thursday are published, there would be an interim report by the summer and that residents would not be saddled with the legal costs of participating.

"Finally, I would seek an assurance that if the inquiry or police investigation finds any individual or organisation to have been negligent in their duties, then they will be prosecuted," he said.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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