Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire are reportedly concerned about being offered temporary accommodation in high-rise tower blocks.
Friends and relatives of survivors who lived in the burned out tower said Kensington and Chelsea council had offered up high-rise hotels as temporary accommodation which, consumed with memories of the traumatising blaze, they were not comfortable living in.
Lisa Murray, whose sister and her family “lost everything” after they fled from the block when the blaze started in the early hours of Wednesday morning, said they had been offered to be put up in a hotel, but that when they got there they saw it was a tower block.
She posted a photograph of the tower block hotel on Facebook, accompanied by the words: “The council said they would put my sister and her family in a hotel, sounds lovely… They get there and it’s in a tower block.
“Are the council taking the p**s! They just escaped the worst tower block fire in London and the council wanna [sic] put them in a tower block! Use your brain RBKC (Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea).”
Nadia Isla, a local resident, meanwhile said a man who escaped the fire was offered a room in a hotel with his children but refused to go there because they were too frightened to enter a tall building.
She told Mail Online: “The survivors are not watching the news. They don’t want to see their houses burning. They don’t want to see it so they don’t know that you are doing all this kind stuff.
“They wanted to put him in a building which is a high-rise building. He freaked out because he doesn’t want to put his children in a high-rise building – would you?
“They have been trying to re-house them in the building but they [the survivors] do not want to go in it. Do you blame them? He freaked out. He said he does not want to put my children in that building.”
When asked whether people requiring emergency housing were being put in tower blocks, a spokesperson from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) said: “No. People are being temporarily housed in hotel accommodation in or close to the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.”
It comes as police confirmed 79 people are either dead or missing and presumed dead, with the number expected to increase further.
Metropolitan Police Commander Stuart Cundy said five people had been formally identified and the rest of those missing following the blaze were “sadly” presumed dead.
He added that the “awful reality” was that due to the intensity of the fire and the devastation it caused, it may not be possible to identify all the victims.
AS Britain bakes in the middle of a blistering 33 degrees heat wave, w all know how difficult it is to stick to office dress codes. So when call centre worker Joey Barge was sent home from work after turning up in shorts, he had the perfect response – returning later that day wearing a vibrant pink dress.
The 20-year-old from Buckinghamshire posted his choice of workwear on Twitter, as a protest of his company’s “sexist” dress code.
I got sent home and told to change into appropriate clothing but it said females could wear dresses so hey ho!
His Twitter users rallied behind him, with one user writing: “That’s pathetic! If woman can wear skirts/dresses then men should be able to wear shorts.”
Fortunately, Joey’s company appears to have amended its dress code in light of his protest, and now allows men to wear three quarter length shorts – but only if they’re black, beige or navy.
The BBC has revealed that four separate Conservative government ministers were warned in letters that fire regulations were not keeping people safe.
In the leaked letters, experts warn that those living in tower blocks like Grenfell Tower were “at risk”.
At least 79 people are dead or missing presumed dead after the fire at the London high-rise last week.
The department that received the letters said work to improve regulation and safety had already been under way.
The letters show experts have been worried about fire safety in tower blocks for years.
Following a fatal fire in Lakanal House in south London in 2009, a series of recommendations were made to keep people safe.
They were ignored. The government promised a review of fire regulations in 2013, but it still has not happened.
BBC One’s Panorama has obtained a dozen letters sent by the All-Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Group.
Informed by experts, it warned the government it “could not afford to wait for another tragedy”.
Four ministers – all from the Department for Communities and Local Government – received letters but did not strengthen the regulations.
Ronnie King, a former chief fire officer who sits on the group, says the government has ignored repeated warnings about tower block safety.
“We have spent four years saying ‘Listen, we have got the evidence, we’ve provided you with the evidence, there is clear public opinion towards this, you ought to move on this’,” said Mr King.
After six people were killed at Lakanal House in 2009, the coroner made a series of safety recommendations for the government to consider.
The government department promised a review in 2013, but it was soon delayed.
In March 2014, the parliamentary group wrote: “Surely… when you already have credible evidence to justify updating… the guidance… which will lead to saving of lives, you don’t need to wait another three years in addition to the two already spent since the research findings were updated, in order to take action?
“As there are estimated to be another 4,000 older tower blocks in the UK, without automatic sprinkler protection, can we really afford to wait for another tragedy to occur before we amend this weakness?”
After further correspondence, Liberal Democrat MP Steven Williams – who was then a minister in the department – replied: “I have neither seen nor heard anything that would suggest that consideration of these specific potential changes is urgent and I am not willing to disrupt the work of this department by asking that these matters are brought forward.”
The group replied to say they “were at a loss to understand, how you had concluded that credible and independent evidence, which had life safety implications, was NOT considered to be urgent”.
“As a consequence the group wishes to point out to you that should a major fire tragedy, with loss of life, occur between now and 2017 in, for example, a residential care facility or a purpose built block of flats, where the matters which had been raised here, were found to be contributory to the outcome, then the group would be bound to bring this to others’ attention.”
The letters were written before the refurbishment of Grenfell Tower.
One went to the-then Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles, who received a letter about fire regulations from the parliamentary group in February 2014.
He had also been asked to look at fire safety in February 2013 and March 2013 by two separate coroners, investigating two tower block fires.
In December 2015, the all-party group wrote to Conservative MP James Wharton, another minister in the department at the time, and warned about the risk of fires spreading on the outside of buildings with cladding.
“Today’s buildings have a much higher content of readily available combustible material. Examples are timber and polystyrene mixes in structure, cladding and insulation.
“This fire hazard results in many fires because adequate recommendations to developers simply do not exist. There is little or no requirement to mitigate external fire spread.”
The last of the four ministers in the department to receive a letter was Gavin Barwell, who has since moved on to become Theresa May’s top aide. He received his letter from the parliamentary group in September last year.
In November, Mr Barwell replied to say his department had been looking at the regulations, and would make a statement “in due course”.
In April this year, Mr Barwell wrote to say he did “acknowledge that producing a statement on building regulations has taken longer than I had envisaged”.
The fire safety group pointed out that it had been “given a similar response by three successive ministers since 2010” and it “is now time to listen to what the Fire Sector is saying”.
The government has said there is still no timetable for a review.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said that a police investigation into the Grenfell Fire is already under way “but it will be some time before it is fully understood how the fire started or why it took hold in the way it did.”
In a statement, it added: “The government has acted to improve fire regulation and safety, including the recommendations made by the Coroner following the Lakanal House Fire.
“The final recommendation concerned simplification of fire safety guidance, and this work was under way, with a consultation due to be published this summer.
“Fire safety requirements are complex issues and our priority has been that we have high standards. A great deal of work has been completed, including commissioning and undertaking research to support the planned consultation. Clearly, in light of this tragic event, we need to reflect on whether this consultation is the correct next step to take. We will confirm our approach shortly.”
In a separate development, Panorama has discovered that firefighters put out the first fire at Grenfell Tower.
They were called to a fridge fire, and within minutes told residents the fire was out in the flat.
The crew was leaving the building when firefighters outside spotted flames rising up the side of the building.
The Fire Brigades Union say firefighters were left facing an unprecedented fire, and officers broke their own safety protocol to rescue people.
May was accused of a lack of “humanity” after she dodged survivors of the Grenfell Tower blaze during a swift 15-minute tour of the site in the immediate aftermath.
But at the Savoy event – where tables cost up to £5,000 – the Prime Minister posed for selfies and a bottle of champagne was raffled to raise funds.
Ian Lavery, chairman of the Labour Party, hit out at May’s decision to attend the event, adding: “At a time when the country is facing some of the most difficult and challenging times in recent memory, it speaks volumes of the Prime Minister that her priority was to spend time raising money for the Tories.
“One day before the Queen’s Speech and in the midst of the Brexit negotiations, Theresa May should be focused on providing the leadership this country so badly needs, not wining and dining big Tory donors so that she can refill her party’s election coffers.
“This is yet another example of the appalling lack of judgement and tact she has shown over recent days. The British people deserve a government that will stand up for the many; what they’ve got is a Prime Minister and government that always stands up for the few.”
A Conservative source told HuffPost UK: “The Prime Minister was honouring a long-standing commitment.”
Asked if she had considered resigning over Grenfell Tower on Monday, the PM’s spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister is chairing Cobra right now, later on today she’ll meet the Irish Taoiseach, after that she will chair a third meeting of the Grenfell Tower taskforce, on Wednesday her government will set out a Queen’s Speech, on Thursday she goes to the European Council.
“These are incredibly challenging times, with two terrible incidents in recent weeks and she’s leading the country through them.”
At the Savoy event, which HuffPost UK attended, May devoted almost an hour of her time to party members, delivering a lengthy speech and joking the election result “didn’t turn out quite as I planned”.
Guests ate a green asparagus salad with truffle and soft boiled egg, followed by slow roasted salt marsh rump of lamb with caramelised heirloom carrots and a tarragon jus.
Among the guests at the luncheon were a string of wealthy City bankers and Ukrainian-born British businessman Alexander Temerko, who has provided a steady stream of cash to the Tories when David Cameron was leader.
The event, was organised by the Cities of London and Westminster Conservative Association – which is among the wealthiest Tory groups in the country.
The Prime Minister told them: “I have heard tales of this lunch in the past and now I have actually experienced what a wonderful event it is, so (…) congratulations to you and all those who put this lunch together and who gather this amazing crowd of people and who support the party and support your effort in cities of London and Westminster which is a unique constituency if you think about it.
“It is home to our monarch, it is home to our parliament, the home to one of the great financial centres of the world.”
The Prime Minister said the recent terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire had shook London as she stressed the importance of uniting as a city.
“Sadly as we meet here today, we do so against the backdrop of tragic events which have taken place in London in recent months,” she said.
“Three terrorist attacks, the most recent in the early hours of Monday in Finsbury Park and of course the absolutely horrific fire at Grenfell Tower.”
She said: “This is one of the greatest cities in the world and long may it continue.”
But she then went on to talk about the Tories’ disastrous election, in which the party lost its majority.
She said: “But of course we meet today, we also meet against the background of a general election, which … didn’t turn out quite as I planned it.
“I called it. I don’t have a majority, so I accept my responsibility. What we have to do now is recognise there were some good things, we [had] over 42% of the vote, our biggest vote share for 30 years.
“In many elections in recent decades, that might actually have been a landslide victory, but it wasn’t.
“We did win seats that we have never held before in other parts of the UK. We won Mansfield, Walsall North, North East Derbyshire – these are places we have never seen a Conservative MP.
“But sadly the results here in London were not so good for us. We have look at what we did right in the campaign and what we did wrong.
“One place where we did see success was in Scotland and while we may not have got the overall majority in Westminster that we might have wanted but I think as a result of what has happened, we might have saved the United Kingdom.”
She referenced the Queen’s Speech, which will be put before Parliament tomorrow setting out her programme for government over the next two years.
But her words came as it emerged the deal she expected to strike with Northern Ireland’s DUP was stalling.
She said: “We need to make sure we get on with the job of governing so the Queen’s Speech in Parliament will take place tomorrow.
“We do this against a backdrop of huge challenges – the Brexit negotiations which started yesterday and we have got to get that right.”
Her speech to party members also came as car manufacturers with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) met just yards away, amid fears the country could slide off a “Brexit cliff edge”.
“Let’s go out there and show what we as Brits are made of, and the success that we can make of our economy,” she said.
“I won’t pretend that this is the easiest job in the world to do.
“I won’t pretend that there aren’t uncertainties and that there won’t be, y’know, barriers in the way that we have to overcome but I believe that when we come together, as one United Kingdom, and recognise our strengths, our abilities and our talents, we make the most of those.”
Conservative association chairman Patrick Evershed pleaded with the super-rich guests to hand over cash before he introduced the prime minister.
He asked those gathered to show “even more generosity” because “times are very tough”.
He said: “This election is not what we all hoped for and it certainly is not what we deserve. Despite that Theresa May got 5% more votes than David Cameron did two years ago.”
“We need a lot more to do even better than we have in the last one, so please be very generous.
“The minimum prescription is 25 but I think several of you here are pretty well off.”
The party received £12.7m in donations between May 3 and June 8, while Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party received £4.5m and the Lib Dems £1.1m.
The Government has also stressed the Prime Minister is making “some progress” in helping Grenfell Tower victims after a fund was set up.