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The shameful truth about Britain’s response to Grenfell

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Last month Peter Mason, the chair of the Barking Reach residents’ association, contacted the builder Bellway Homes, requesting an investigation into the fire risk at his block of flats, following a BBC Watchdog report that revealed fire safety problems at two other Bellway developments. The company reassured him there was nothing to worry about. The wooden cladding had been treated so that it would take 30 minutes before a fire could take hold. “We understand that these news articles are highly alarming for all residents of new homes,” the company responded. “And I hope that the above statement has allayed any fears you may have over the safety and construction of your Bellway home.”

On Sunday the cladding at De Pass Gardens, part of the Barking Reach development, caught fire in 70 seconds and soon consumed the building. Andrew Boff, the chair of the planning committee on the London Assembly, who lives opposite and was on the scene to help rescue people, told the London Evening Standard there was “no alarm and of course no sprinklers”. Miraculously, nobody died.

The very next day, at an event in parliament to commemorate the second anniversary of the Grenfell fire, in which 72 people died and a further 70 were injured, Willie Thompson, a former Grenfell resident, confronted the housing secretary, James Brokenshire. “There’s another Grenfell in the post and it is going to land on your door. You guys are doing almost nothing. Does it take another Grenfell?”

Tragically, given this government’s attitude to working people, wavering between the callous and the capricious, and a broader state of civic ennui, it might.

The state’s culpability in this regard is clear. As my colleague Robert Booth has reported, in the two years since the fire, the public inquiry into what happened at Grenfell has not reported (and will not until October); tens of thousands of people still live in blocks covered in the same highly flammable cladding; and despite Theresa........

© The Guardian