Saturday, June 17, 2017

Grenfell: Big Anger or Big Reforms?

We are all angry over the Grenfell Tower fire, but the anger of those who lost loved ones, friends and neighbours is naturally at very high levels.  The energy of anger needs to be channeled, otherwise it turns to destructive behaviour. Many of us were relieved that there were no riots in London last night. Riots are the last thing we need, because riots cause fires, and more fire deaths are exactly what Daily Mail, Sun etc desire in order to put an end to concern about tower blocks.

Anger needs to be expressed, but expression is not enough. 
There must be significant change in the way people are housed and also in the way we live. 

We need to put forward a specific set of policy changes to present to Government - and be seen to be putting them forward.

Here's a few to begin with:

  1. First we must not let the Government delay any action until the Inquest (which is preferable to May's Judge-led Inquiry) has been published. There are plenty of reviews and reports to guide salient action. It is important that action can be seen to be taking place.
  2. People are calling for "Justice for Grenfell". This will take time, But we can easily identify those Ministers who suppressed the Review of Housing Safety. No need to look too far. We have the names of three MPs who failed to act on warnings: "Sir" Eric Pickles,  Brandon Lewis (now Minister for Immigration)  and Gavin Barwell, who is now Mrs May's Strategy Advisor.

    Barwell and Lewis should lose their jobs immediately, as a symbol of contrition of the Government, and  for what has happened. Pickles should lose his knighthood.

    Then there is a large number of committee members in various bodies like the Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council and their devolved bodies who made wrong decisions. This is subject to a criminal investigation by the police, and will take time.
  3. Physical changes need to be made to all tower blocks in the country. Already reviews are happening. They need to be quality checked by the Health and Safety Executive.
    Here are them main things to be done:
    a) remove all flammable cladding, replace with inflammable (not just Fire Resistant) material.
    b) Install sprinklers, fire alarms etc
    c) research innovative ways of escape from tall buildings
  4. Review of fire instructions in case of fire, first the "stay put" advice, and then organisation of information and support for survivors
  5. No new tower blocks to be built
  6. National debate over the difficult question of whether the existing stock of tower blocks should be demolished. If they are kept, we should set up community workers and community space in each and every block with the aim of turning them into "vertical villages".
These are a few of the most important points. Many more will emerge in empowered discussion with those immediately affected.

Over and above this matter of accommodation, now is a good time to press for a completely new deal for the working classes. Government should study ways of setting up universal Basic Income, and find ways of providing work for all in the green sector of the economy, namely work that helps with the  healing of society and environment.

These seven (or more) points may seem far-reaching, but they are preferable to widespread riots - or even an attempted insurrection. Anger is unpredictable and destructive. Reform is stabilising and constructive. 


Tony Gosling said...

It NEARLY happened in Bristol
Those behind the proposed Bedminster TMO couldn't even spell the word 'tenant'
here's their web info retrieved from the wayback machine.....

21 Feb 2011 - Bedminster Tennant Management Organisation - working for you
Working for the community

Why a TMO?
We are not happy with the constant changes the Council makes to the housing service & we want to ensure that the following priorities are tackled by housing staff who are answerable to Bedminster tenants and leaseholders directly:
• housing repairs
• the caretaking service
• grounds maintenance
• fly-tipping & litter
• anti-social behaviour
• estate management
• voids (empty properties) and re-lets

Introducing - Vanessa Lewis
Who is our Project Worker. She’s a local woman with many years experience of community engagement. She will be door-knocking over the coming months to talk to you about any questions you have about YOUR TMO. She will also be offering FREE membership if you’re in support of what we’re doing – so please look out for her!
Following our successful Stage 1 Assessment, Bedminster TMO is now in receipt of Government funding.
Remember, this is not a Council scheme. This is a website produced for Bedminster Tenants & Leaseholders by Bedminster Tenants & Leaseholders.

Message from your TMO Chair - Gilbert Webster:
In case you didn't know, YOUR TMO Board continues to work many hours every week (completely unpaid) in an attempt to set up a TMO that will provide a better housing service to Bedminster & Redcliffe tenants. We’re now at the business end – so if you have a couple of hours a month to spare, and have any business or administration knowledge, YOUR TMO Board would be very interested in hearing from you. How about e-mailing me at

As you will hopefully remember from previous newsletters, in order to look into the idea of setting up a Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) for Bedminster & Redcliffe, YOUR Board of tenants has had to undergo a lot of training, policy development, independent assessment, and business planning. Our draft Business Plan is now being reviewed by the Council – which sets out our aims, risks, service proposals and financial projections. Our Business Plan is a detailed document that has taken us months to put together. It will be carefully scrutinised by the Council and by central Government before YOUR Board is declared “competent to manage housing”.
The long and short of our Business Plan, is that we will do things slightly differently – see further on. More importantly however, we will spend every penny we have on the housing service provided to tenants. The amount we have is based on what the Council spent last year. The Council has to transfer this money to YOUR TMO to spend how it sees fit. This then happens year on year. There will be NO CUTS under a TMO! We will spend every penny on improving the repairs & maintenance service, caretaking, grounds maintenance etc. to Bedminster & Redcliffe tenants. Its as simple as that!

Wanted – Board Members!
Join Us! If you’re interested in coming along to see what a TMO is all about, or maybe becoming a Board Member and actively participating in our monthly meetings, please contact Gilbert Webster (your TMO Chair) during office hours on 0784 367 7297. We meet monthly on the second Thursday of each month at 10.30am in the meeting room in Bedminster Library on East Street. If you can spare a few hours a month and think you might be interested in shaping the future of the housing management service in Bedminster, contact us!

Tony Gosling said...

Download previous copies of our Newsletter & other important documents here:
Dec 2010
Feb 2010
Oct 2009
Mar 2009
Oct 2008

Membership form
Minutes of Nov 2010 & December agenda
Minutes of June 2010 & July agenda
Minutes of May 2010 meeting
BTMO Equal Opportunities
BTMO Consultation & Communication Strategy

The Service Plans
Repairs & Maintenance:
We are going to make 2 key changes. Firstly we are going to operate a ‘handyman scheme’ – who will be based locally and on-hand full time (including Saturdays) to carry out minor repairs. This will be a fast and responsive service which will prevent many repairs becoming more major. Secondly the Repairs Contractor will be directly employed by, and accountable to, YOUR TMO Board. The Council will no longer appoint and manage the Repairs Contractor.

Grounds maintenance:
We are going to fundamentally review the grounds maintenance contracts in place at the moment. We know we can reduce costs AND increase quality – we’ve already got some good advice from other TMO’s across the country about how to do this.

We want to make YOUR Caretakers proud to be Caretakers. We want to offer training & development opportunities to allow them to get back involved in minor repairs – like they used to be. They will be directly responsible to YOUR TMO only & we expect them to get back the sense of community we used to have.

Under a TMO, ALL of the staff responsible for providing the housing service will be managed by our own TMO Manager – who in turn will report directly to YOUR TMO Board. The Council will no play a part in this – simple!

2010 BedminsterTMO
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