Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Grenfell Tower blaze - a parable of our times

Grenfell Tower is only two miles from me, so once the radio went off this morning I headed there.  

By the time I arrived at 7.30am the sirens had stopped, the screaming had stopped. People had stopped jumping to their death or throwing swaddled children out windows in the hope they’d be caught.

I walked past row after row of fire engines and dazed, hijab-clad women gathered outside community centres.

People were beginning to wake up and realise that in the smouldering, black pyre behind us people were still alive, children were missing, families missing.

The building itself was a horror, just a horror, the flames still rising across London, the embers falling to the streets.

And it was unbelievable that this could happen in the capital of Britain, in the 21st century.

People were shocked but they were angry too. Locals had warned, again and again, the towers were a firetrap. But they were ignored by the council and the building operators.

The official advice in the event of a fire was to stay put. People ignored that and their lives were saved.

Minister Nick Hurd announced a review of safety in tower blocks but that won’t bring back a single life from Grenfell Tower.

There will be an inquiry but many have come to their own conclusion, echoed by Jeremy Corbyn, that cuts were partly to blame.

Many believe this hellfire was a judgement, that Grenfell will become parable of our times.

This is the price paid when the voices of ordinary people, and the needs of communities, are ignored. 

This is what austerity costs. 

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