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Kensington council to take back control of Grenfell tower site in controversial move

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) will be handed back the site of Grenfell Tower amid public outrage for the move.

First reported on by The Guardian, the tower block in which 71 people tragically died on 14 June last year was expected by some to come under the control of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MCHLG). However, following the completion of police investigations it is expected that the council will already be handed back control of the building in early August.

Adel Chaoui from Grenfell United told the paper: “It’s a huge conflict of interest and distressing to the victims that RBKC will have anything more to do with Grenfell tower, even in name.

“The government has had over a year to come up with other solutions and we’ve told them exactly how survivors and bereaved feel about this.”

Last month, communities secretary James Brokenshire revealed plans to ban the use of combustible cladding on the side of high-rise residential buildings, similar to that of Grenfell. In May, RBKC outlined plans to spend £3.5m replacing Grenfell-style fire safety doors.

Earlier this month the Metropolitan Police conducted three interviews under caution in relation to the Grenfell fire, with authorities considering offences including gross negligence manslaughter, corporate manslaughter, and breaches of the Health and Safety Act.

Once those conducting the investigation are entirely satisfied that nothing further is required from the tower, responsibility for it will be handed over “to the responsible body,” a police statement said.

Commander Stuart Cundy explained: “The handover of Grenfell Tower by the police will only occur once we are entirely confident that all police work has been completed at the tower and handing the tower over to the responsible body will have no bearing on the ongoing criminal investigation.

“The concerns of the bereaved, survivors and residents as well as the wider community will be central to how the handover takes place. We recognise this will be a significant milestone and one that is bound to stir a range of emotions for all those affected by this tragedy. 

“As part of our careful planning for a transition of responsibility, we are working closely with representatives from central government and London Councils.”

A Kensington and Chelsea Council spokesperson said: “The site will continue to be independently managed, the council will have no part in any day to day operations.

“It is right that the Grenfell community – the bereaved, survivors and residents – decides on the future of the tower site. They must have full control to shape the legacy of Grenfell following this tragedy. Earlier this year we signed up to a set of principles with the government committing to this and our position has not, nor will not change.”

The site principles, signed up to by RBKC, can be found here.

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Image credit:  Jonathan Brady, PA Images


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