Grenfell area ahead of Government on protecting disabled tenants – council

·3-min read

Disabled residents living in council housing within the Grenfell Tower area are now protected by a key fire safety measure despite the Government refusing to implement it nationwide.

Hundreds of people have been given Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs) so they know how to leave their homes safely in the event of a fire, said Elizabeth Campbell, leader of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) authority.

This applies to residents with reduced mobility who live in social housing blocks taller than 10 metres which are provided by the council, rather than by housing associations.

The Grenfell Tower Inquiry advised the Government to place a legal obligation on landlords to provide a PEEP for each of their disabled tenants, but ministers have not yet enforced this, partly due to cost.

Grenfell Tower
The Grenfell Memorial Wall in the grounds of Kensington Aldridge Academy (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Ahead of the fifth anniversary of the fire, Ms Campbell told the PA news agency the council has changed “in every way” and has adopted inquiry recommendations ahead of the Government.

Speaking at the council’s headquarters in Kensington Town Hall, west London, she said: “I think only a third of people (councillors) who were there pre-Grenfell are still here.

“We’ve just changed in every way, but I think the main way we have changed is we now listen and we respond to people, so it’s genuinely led by our communities.

“Everything we’ve been asked to do from the inquiry really, we’ve done, ahead of any Government legislations.

“I’ve come back with a mandate, and the mandate is to make sure that we re-double our commitment to Grenfell.”

When asked whether ministers should write the PEEPs recommendation into law so it is enforced nationwide, Ms Campbell said: “I think that’s up to the Government.

“Certainly, as far as we’re concerned, we absolutely know where everyone is who’s got a PEEP and we completely appreciate where people are.

“You can’t just have people with disabilities written off because they’re on the 15th floor.”

Tower block fire in London
Leader of RBKC authority Elizabeth Campbell after the first preliminary hearing in the Grenfell Tower Inquiry at the Connaught Rooms in central London (Victoria Jones/PA)

RBKC said it has completed 356 “person-centred fire risk assessments” and prepared 195 PEEPs for vulnerable residents who would need extra support evacuating their homes.

Ms Campbell, who has been a Conservative RBKC councillor since May 2006 and was elected leader in July 2017, said she believes the council has been “the most honest and open of any of the defendants” in the inquiry.

She told PA: “We understand that people can’t have any closure until they get the truth and all we can do is be really honest about the part that we played and apologise for the mistakes that we made, because we did make them.”

Ms Campbell said that RBKC has provided a mental health support service for 700 people affected by the fire, and 97% of them have accessed it.

“Alongside that, we have a huge amount of stuff in the community, with schools – one thousand children access our services, and also adults, so there’s a whole raft of stuff that the council has been doing,” she said.

Ms Campbell said, on the fifth anniversary of the fire, that her thoughts are with survivors and bereaved families of the 72 people who died in Grenfell Tower on June 14, 2017.

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