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SALFORD JUSTICE FOR GRENFELL MEETING HEARS THAT RESIDENTS MUST FIND THEIR VOICE
 

Star date: 23rd August 2017

MESSAGE FROM GRENFELL IS FOR RESIDENTS ASSOCIATIONS TO MAKE VOICES HEARD

"The key issue is for residents associations to find their voice"...That was the message relayed by Moyra Samuels from the Justice For Grenfell campaign during a community meeting at Salford Arts Theatre last night, which aimed to draw the social housing parallels between Grenfell and the rest of the country.

"We're at a critical moment for the future of housing" added Glynn Robbins, from Defend Council Housing, "Grenfell can be a turning point but it's up to us..."

Full details here...


Salford Justice For Grenfell Meeting Salford Justice For Grenfell Meeting Salford Justice For Grenfell Meeting
Salford Justice For Grenfell Meeting
click image to enlarge

"Like wrapping aluminium foil around a firelighter, slapping it on the outside of a building and hoping for the best..."


After the tragedy of Grenfell Tower, and during the ongoing trauma and rage, something happened within the area, Justice For Grenfell campaigner, Moyra Samuels, told a meeting of residents at the Salford Arts Theatre last night...

"It's not a particularly fiery political community; we're laid back, we have the Notting Hill Carnival this weekend...but for the first time we have found our voice as a community and people have said 'We're not putting up with this anymore'..."

Moyra, who lives three hundred yards from Grenfell, linked all the horrors of the fire and the council failures, before and following it, to the "sub text of social cleansing and gentrification" and an ideology that meant the "sell off of everything for local people".

Now, she added, "We will be challenging every service that they are planning to cut, whether it's schools, hospitals or front line staff who actually support people...", and urged Salford people to also challenge the authorities...

"The key issue is for residents associations to find their voice" she insisted "Form residents associations and demand that you can live safely..."

When the Government tested cladding and insulation materials for fire safety, Salford was found to have the most failing buildings in the country (see here), so Moira's words were particularly poignant.

Residents have told how they feel unsafe, as the three unaccountable housing groups in the city Salix Homes, City West and Pendleton Together try to control their responses (see here).

Addressing the meeting, Salford Deputy Mayor, John Merry, said that Salford Council will be seeking to borrow up to 25million so that "the people of Salford are safeguarded".*

He added that, as well as the cladding and insulation, the internal structures of tower blocks would be investigated and that the installation of sprinklers would be "looked at"...but it would depend on what he called the "convenience of tenants...we need to make sure that everyone is happy"...

Merry came under fire from various political groups and residents with their own outstanding issues...Some called for rent strikes 'Why pay rent in unsafe buildings?'...others blamed the council for privatising its housing stock.

Salford UNISON branch secretary, Steven North, picking up on an earlier speech by the GM Hazards Campaign's Hilda Palmer slamming safety deregulation, called on Salford Council to reverse its proposed 500,000 cut to regulatory services which would make people in Salford "less safe".

Hilda, herself a Salford resident, explained that we were living with "death by regulation" as health and safety had been rolled back over the last forty years under both Labour and Conservative governments...

"We need enormous anger about what has happened" she said "This has to be the 'Enough is enough moment'...There are a whole lot of things that Grenfell is about but it's really about the attack on the laws on health and safety that protect us in work, in the home in the environment, from unsafe food and products. This idea that it's a bad thing, that's a burden on business, is what we have to fight against..."

She cited architectural expert, Sam Webb, who said that the development of products used for buildings had outstripped the power of the regulations and the enforcement system to control it...

"He talked of the cladding insulation and products used on the buildings as being a bit like wrapping aluminium foil around a firelighter, slapping it on the outside of a building and hoping for the best" she recalled "We need to change the whole ideology...we have to say that 'Our lives count'...We want decent housing, decent jobs, we want safety and good provision in every area of our lives."

Gary Keary, of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), added that the Grenfell Inquiry into the worst fire in generations "is to be handicapped by such narrow terms of reference...

"This inquiry will not look at the Government's policy on social housing or even the ability of fire and rescue services outside of London to deal with a similar disaster" he explained "The FBU believes this to be reckless, a failure in its duty to protect communities across the UK...It is down to people such as ourselves, community action groups, trade unions to keep banging on the door, keep asking the questions..."

Glyn Robbins, from Defend Council Housing, said that "we are now at an absolutely critical moment for the future of housing in this country...We have to unite and campaign on some core demands if we are to avoid another Grenfell and the wholesale privatisation of housing; that is what is at stake.

"At the centre of that is the demand for decent, secure, affordable and safe homes for all" he added "In order to achieve that we need to demand direct government investment in existing and new council housing. This is not a crisis of London and the South East, this is a national crisis."

He turned to the role of housing associations like Salix Homes and City West, and management company Pendleton Together...

"We need to address the increasing failure of housing associations because they have gone from being part of the solution to part of the problem and they need to be reminded of the 'social' in 'social landlord'" he explained "They need to be restored to their original purpose as non-profit making community based organisations which are there to meet housing need."

When the private rented sector was also considered, Glynn referred to the "deformed housing market", adding that "we can't wait for Jeremy Corbyn" to get elected.

"Grenfell can be a turning point but that is up to us...it's up to us whether Moira's neighbours died in vain..." he said, before leaving the audience with a pertinent question...

"If the cladding on the tower blocks is now being removed, why was it put up in the first place?" he asked "Answering that question will take us to the really important issues about the role of private contractors within housing policy in this country..."

Finally, Moyra Samuels listed a whole battery of issues pointed out by the residents at Grenfell, from the horrific technical failings to planning failures...

"Their voices were not heard" she explained "The clear message is that it's really important that we get together within our residents associations and make our voices heard, whether that's in a Labour council or a Tory council...In Grenfell, people are now finding their voices and I would urge people to take a leaf out of their book..."

 
*For full details of the 25 million borrowing see previous Salford Star article click here

Update 1st September: See Salford Star article - The 'Nightmare' of Salford Tower Block Residents Post Grenfell - click here

Rayofsunshine wrote
at 11:50:42 on 25 August 2017
In the current climate of heightened concern over tower block safety,I'd like to know what is the official poli y of Salix and Pendleton Together regarding disabled tenants? I've read worrying accounts that there are disabled tenants who are housed above the ground floor. This, I find, for obvious reasons, quite worrying. G

Falsie Felsie wrote
at 18:27:49 on 24 August 2017
Felse--please just go. Haven't you got to sort out your costume for the Pride weekend? Maybe you should stand for Mayor of the Northern Quarter instead?

Felsie wrote
at 15:33:12 on 24 August 2017
I hope the Tory party will pick me to contest Claremont by-election due soon. It is time to kick some rears on Salford Council. I would do the job free to instal public trust. People need to get a willing voice - simple as that.

Bob wrote
at 11:41:42 on 24 August 2017
Jon Smith is absolutely right. How nice to have one of these nice ladies of the left with dangly earings come up from london to tell us whats wrong here. She can't be that smart, talking about social cleansing and gentrification, because if she was, she wouldn't share a platform with the likes of longshaw, merry and dennet would she?i for one would not like to sit alongside them . one of the favorite phrases of this type of metropolitan lefty is "getting to the root of the cause ". these three clowns are the root of the cause. Its probably not relevant, but, i wonder how much Moyra Samuels house is worth "just 300 yards from the grenfell tower". we just got to face it folks, things are never gonna change here with that lot. bob. P.S. A great letter from Mary Ferrer the other day. Rousing stuff.If only each of the anti labour groups could unite and get behind someone like her at the next mayoral election. if only.

Jon Smith wrote
at 16:37:15 on 23 August 2017
The problem we and other block have is, ether the residents associations are so far up housing providers backsides or dysfunctional as ours is, they have done nothing for the residents of our block in three years. Its time for people power to step up and form a larger group that includes residents from all housing providers, that includes Salix Homes, City West and Pendleton Together.

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