Why are we still raising the alarm four years on from Grenfell? - Laura Collins, YEP Editor

Four years ago, the haunting image of flames ravaging their way through Grenfell Tower was beamed across the world.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 4:45 am
As the fourth anniversary is marked today, the impact of Grenfell still reverberates across the country. Pic: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
As the fourth anniversary is marked today, the impact of Grenfell still reverberates across the country. Pic: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

Seventy-two people lost their lives in what has become the most deadly domestic blaze since the Second World War. Survivors and the bereaved still bear the emotional scars of that fateful morning of June 14 2017.

As the photographs of exhausted and emotional fire crews next to the shell of the building became a defining image of the tragedy, we were told that lessons would be learned and this must never be allowed to happen again.

The inquiry continues to pour over the details disclosed in 20,752 documents in Phase 1 and 243,285 in Phase 2, meaning there are still many unanswered questions for those who lost loved ones.

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And as the fourth anniversary is marked today, the impact of Grenfell still reverberates across the country.

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn has led calls for more action to protect leaseholders from the “nightmare” of unsafe cladding.

Despite moves from the Government earlier this year to protect the leaseholders of flats, thousands are still faced with the crippling costs of replacing potentially flammable cladding on the sides of their homes.

He added, however, that a growing number of MPs from Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s own party were beginning to side with campaigners as they call for the Government to force developers to cover the cost when it comes to making their constructions safe.

In the meantime, many leaseholders are footing the bill and paying for measures such as waking watches while they wait for the remedial work that will allow them to sleep soundly at night again.

Since Mr Benn and campaigners called for more help back in January, housing secretary Robert Jenrick said the Government would fully fund the leaseholder costs of replacing unsafe cladding in residential buildings in England that are taller than 18 metres – around six storeys.

But those leaseholders can’t afford to wait any longer.

Just last week, terrified residents were evacuated from an apartment block in Granary Wharf after the balcony of an eighth-floor apartment was engulfed in flames. Thankfully, nobody was hurt and efforts to contain the fire meant it did not spread beyond the flat.

But it serves as a reminder to us all that the issues raised by the Grenfell disaster have not gone away.

Today members of the Grenfell United campaign group are hosting an online remembrance event at 7pm, while churches have been asked to simultaneously ring their bells 72 times at that time as an act of remembrance, followed by a two-minute silence.

The public are also asked to “go green for Grenfell” at 10pm by placing green lights in their homes and gardens.

Local churches close to the tower site prepared a special online service yesterday to remember those who lost their lives. Yet here we are – four years on – and change has been too slow.

Many residents are today still raising the alarm about living in buildings with “unsafe” cladding and they must be heard.

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