Grenfell fire: Rebuilding trust in council to ‘take a generation’

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Grenfell TowerImage copyright PA

Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire will “take a generation” to trust Kensington and Chelsea Council again, according to its new leader.

Elizabeth Campbell said “words and apologies” would not be enough, and the authority needed to take action.

But she would not give detail about how much money the council, which has £274m in reserves, would spend on buying houses to rehome survivors.

At least 80 people are believed to be dead after the blaze on 14 June.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Conservative councillor said: “I was at the Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre last week and this man stood up and said ‘my family died in that fire, how are we ever going to trust you again?’

“I said, I think it is going to take a very long time. It is going to take a generation and over the next months and years we have to give you reasons to trust us again.

“That won’t just be words, that won’t just be apologies, it has got to be actions.”

Ms Campbell also revealed she had never been inside a high-rise block in the borough – despite working with vulnerable families in North Kensington.

But she said she had experience “with people on the ground” after heading up family and children’s services for the council.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Campbell took on the job of leader after former council chief Nick Paget-Brown stepped down in the wake of the fire

Kensington and Chelsea Council is known to be one of London’s wealthiest boroughs with reserves of £274m. It has pledged to use some of that to build new council houses.

Ms Campbell said they were also “looking at buying” private properties for a faster fix to rehouse Grenfell survivors, but she would not reveal how much they were willing to spend.

“We live in an overcrowded London borough,” she said. “We have got to find homes in the area where they live.

“We are looking at buying, but I can’t give you pounds, shilling and pence of exactly how much of our reserves.”


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