Lambeth housing a year after Grenfell

Just over a year ago the terrible fire took hold of Grenfell tower. In the days and weeks that followed the story emerged of a council and management that refused to listen to tenant’s complaints and concerns.  A story of threats and intimidation directed at those tenants who raised their voices. A story of flammable cladding put up not for the residents of the tower but to improve the view of the wealthy in the Borough.  A story of managed decline and privatisation, of shoddy outsourced work and ignored and inadequate regulations.

A result of all the elements of what we have come to know as ‘regeneration’ – what seems to be deliberate neglect of social housing to pave the way for future demolition and privatisation. To the detriment and destruction of entire settled and long-standing communities.

In the weeks following the terrible tragedy in Grenfell, residents from across Lambeth held meetings to discuss the actions needed immediately to ensure the safety of our homes.  We argued that many of the elements that had led to Grenfell were clearly evident in Lambeth and the Council should pause it housing strategy, stop the managed decline, demolition of estates and sell off of public land.

We  raised a number of demands of Lambeth and other registered social landlords  to undertake  the following:

  1. New in-depth fire risk assessments (FRAs) by the fire authorities (NOT Lambeth council officers) of all blocks
  2. Review of all blocks to assess for compliance with best practice not the inadequate ‘minimum standards’.Publish the assessments including information on:
    • Cladding
    • Fire Alarms
    • Fire Doors
    • Sprinkler Systems
    • Heating Systems
    • Gas Pipes
    • Electrics
  1. Begin implementing the recommendations of the Lakanal Inquest immediately. Such as retrofitting sprinklers among others. Spend reserves if necessary and then work with the community to demand and secure additional funding from central government.
  2. Set up a specific webpage to publish all requested information on fire safety, including;
  3. Provide on-going transparency and public accountability, through holding immediate public forums to announce plans on the safety review and ongoing forums to report progress.
  4. Halt all regeneration schemes in Lambeth until a new review and public consultation can be organised that gives residents full confidence in the projects and the companies involved.
  5. Stop ignoring residents – actively create a culture of communication,  collaboration, promote independent residents associations and support strong Tenants’ and Leaseholders’ Councils for council estate residents.

A year later what has Lambeth council done? Have they learnt anything from Grenfell? We spoke to people from a number of  estates facing demolition.