Grenfell Tower fire: Council suspends rent for neighbouring flats

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    Burned Grenfell TowerImage copyright PA

    Residents forced to leave homes next to London’s Grenfell Tower because of a lack of utilities have had their rent suspended, the area’s council has said.

    Kensington and Chelsea council said payments would not be requested for properties in the so-called finger blocks until at least January 2018.

    The buildings have been without hot water since the neighbourhood’s boiler was destroyed in the fire on 14 June.

    Any rent deducted since the blaze will be refunded, a council spokesman said.

    It comes after a victims’ group said one resident had had rent deducted from their bank account since the fire, which is believed to have killed at least 80 people.

    The west London council has been heavily criticised for its response to the disaster, leading this week to the resignation of its leader Nicholas Paget-Brown and his deputy, Rock Feilding-Mellen.

    Media playback is unsupported on your device

    Media captionConservative councillor Catherine Faulks said each family had been allocated their own social worker

    A Kensington and Chelsea council spokesman said: “We are focused on the needs of all affected residents, including those from Barandon Walk, Testerton Walk and Hurstway [the finger blocks].

    “This group of residents have suffered a huge disruption to their lives as they were evacuated from their homes.”

    The spokesman added that the council expected to have the hot water supply restored in the next week.

    He said some residents had gone back to their homes, but the council would continue to provide temporary accommodation for those who did not want to return.

    On Saturday the government said it would keep “a close eye” on Kensington and Chelsea council after London Mayor Sadiq Khan called for commissioners to take over running it.

    Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the process to select a successor to Mr Paget-Brown would be “independent of government”, but added: “If we need to take further action, we won’t hesitate to do so.”

    The council is due to elect a leader next week.


    Key criticisms of the council

    Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
    • Residents condemned the response to the tragedy, calling it “absolute chaos” as relief efforts on the ground were limited.
    • They said there was little or no co-ordination in the immediate days after the disaster, with claims council officials were nowhere to be seen.
    • The council was accused of failing to provide enough support or information to those who had been made homeless.
    • It tried to hold the first cabinet meeting since the disaster behind closed doors.
    • After a High Court order ruled it should be open to the public, the council adjourned the meeting after 20 minutes, claiming an open meeting would “prejudice” the inquiry.

    Did you live in Grenfell Tower? Or are you part of the local community? What’s your experience of the council’s response to the fire? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk.

    View the original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40471554

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