Scottish housing rights organisers get to work in shadow of Grenfell Tower tragedy


 Anger over failure of authorities to heed demands of Grenfell community

SCOTTISH housing rights activists are coming to gather to plan the organisation of a tenants union based on models from across Europe in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

The blaze at the 24 storey tower block in North Kensington early on Wednesday (14 June) morning  has killed at least six, with police expecting that figure to rise.

The Grenfell Action Group (GAG) made numerous complaints that basic fire safety procedures were not being followed, including the checking of fire safety equipment at regular intervals.

The block, containing 127 flats, had been refurbished in 2015 and 2016 by Rydon construction. Cladding was added to the exterior of the building which has been linked by experts to fires in UAE, France and Algeria in recent years.

Radon have said they met all safety regulations.

The deaths in the densely populated flat have brought new attention to the housing crisis in London and across the UK.

Living Rent Meeting: Whatn can we learn from tenants across Europe

In Scotland the Living Rent Campaign has been established as a community union and has taken a range of successful actions in recent weeks, including a protest at Whiteinch and Scotstoun housing association demanding lower rents and better conditions for tenants, and successful efforts to protect private tenants from being forced to pay illegal charges. They recently set up new offices across from Cessnock underground in Glasgow.

The union will meet in Glasgow today (15 June, 6:30pm) at the Unite offices on West Regent street to discuss new forms of tenants organisation breaking out across Europe.

Living Rent organiser Sean Ballie said: “The Grenfell Tower events heartbreakingly highlight the absolute need for tenants to be organised. 

“Tenants voices can no longer be allowed to go unheard in the face of serious safety concerns.”

Writing on their blog following the fire, GAG said: “Regular readers of this blog will know that we have posted numerous warnings in recent years about the very poor fire safety standards at Grenfell Tower and elsewhere in RBKC.

“All our warnings fell on deaf ears and we predicted that a catastrophe like this was inevitable and just a matter of time.”

The flats were controlled by Kensington and Chelsea tenant management organisation on behalf of the local council. Tenants claim their concerns, voiced repeatedly over four years, were ignored by local authorities.

Problems of mass homelessness, high rents, unaffordable house prices, overcrowding and unsanitary and unsafe housing are endemic across the UK.

Picture: Living Rent

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