London News & Search
A sobbing teenager who lived in a block neighbouring Grenfell Tower reduced a senior member of Kensington and Chelsea council to stunned silence during a tense public meeting.
Residents met with representatives from the council at Notting Hill Methodist church on Tuesday night.
A 17-year-old girl, who gave her name as Rhianna, said the trauma of the fire had sent her backwards in her long-term struggle with depression.
She said she had been forced to seek counselling proactively and recalled how her eight-year-old nephew was suffering after finding out his teacher had been one of those who perished in the blaze.
At least 80 people are believed to have died when a huge fire broke out at Grenfell Tower on June 14.
Kensington and Chelsea Council has been heavily criticised for its response to the fire, with council leader Nicholas Paget-Brown resigning in the aftermath of the fire.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan was among senior politicians to blast the council, calling its response “inept and incompetent”.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the teenager said her nephew had only recently been offered counselling and it would be three weeks before anyone could see him.
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Speaking tearfully to a panel of representatives, she said: “From this day onward, what are you as a council going to do to ensure that the survivors of Grenfell, the people who had to sit on Latimer Road and watch people falling and jump and cry and lose their family, what are you going to do to support and ensure that we can have trust in you and that we can trust our community and we can not argue at each other, not shout over each other, not come to meetings and everyone’s shouting at each other – what are you going to do?
Newly-appointed interim head of paid services at Kensington and Chelsea council Barry Quirk, one of the panel representatives, appeared to struggle with emotion as he replied: “It’s absolutely clear to me that you have been let down.
“And you’ve been let down by statutory public authorities.”
He then paused while the 17-year-old broke down with her head in her hands and community members rushed to comfort her.
He added: “I will do everything I feasibly can to change the management of this organisation and to change the way in which health and other agencies respond to you directly, immediately, 24/7, not just when it’s convenient for them, when you need it.”
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