UK

Grenfell Tower's Tenant Management Organisation Stripped Of Its Responsibility, Theresa May Announces

Kensington and Chelsea Council also 'did not respond quickly enough'.

23/08/2017 14:35 BST

The organisation in charge of managing Grenfell Tower will be stripped of its responsibility for the Lancaster West Estate where the charred high-rise sits, the Prime Minister has said.

The Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) has been heavily criticised for failing to respond to residents’ concerns both before and after the devastating blaze, which killed at least 80 people.

Now - ten weeks after the fire - the Prime Minister has also confirmed residents’ suspicions that Kensington and Chelsea Council “did not respond quickly enough after the fire”.

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The organisation in charge of managing Grenfell Tower will be stripped of its responsibility for the Lancaster West Estate

The Tory leader attended a private meeting with residents of the west London tower block on Tuesday night to discuss concerns over the handling of the aftermath of the fire.

May has not had a warm reception at previous meetings, initially failing to meet survivors and then being booed during a later visit.

She said the meeting attended by 60 or 70 people was “very dignified” and residents were “pleased” that the organisation responsible for managing the building is being stripped of its involvement.

Speaking during a visit to Guildford in Surrey, May said: “It was a very good meeting last night, it was very dignified, a very respectful meeting, and obviously people did have concerns that they were raising and I was pleased that I was able to tell them - because the Tenant Management Organisation (TMO) is one of the issues that residents have been very concerned about - I was able to tell them that the TMO will no longer have responsibility for the Lancaster West housing estate.

“People were pleased to hear that.”

May was told about the “ongoing challenges” including housing, bereavement support and the distribution of donations, which are not reaching survivors quickly enough, according to the Charity Commission.

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Prime Minister Theresa May visiting the scene near Grenfell Tower in west London after a fire engulfed the 24-storey building

A Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister acknowledged residents’ concerns about the culture of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and the TMO.

“She confirmed that the TMO will be removed from the management of the Lancaster West estate and she recognised that the council did not respond quickly enough after the fire.

“She agreed that it was important that the council listen to and respond to the issues residents face about the support and information they were receiving, including from key workers and housing officers.”

Earlier this month the heads of sixteen residents’ associations wrote an open letter to leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council Elizabeth Campbell urging the local authority to sever ties with TMO.

Thousands of people represented by the heads of the residents’ organisations said they had “no confidence” in the TMO and said they felt “ignored” by the organisation for years.

Last week May backed the independent probe into the disaster, led by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Martin Moore-Bick.

The inquiry’s terms of reference, which omits social housing, were revealed last week, sparking anger among residents and their representatives.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn recently wrote to May, raising fears that the probe’s focus was to “avoid criticism” for policy failures “rather than secure justice for Grenfell survivors”.

May’s spokesman said: “The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of the independence of the inquiry, including on questions about how it was run.

“She reiterated that any resident who wanted to take part would be able to and that the Government would fund any legal representation required.

“She explained that, while the judge had not proposed including wider questions related to social housing within the terms of reference, the Government recognised that these should be taken forward elsewhere and had asked the Housing Minister, Alok Sharma, to begin this by holding conversations with social housing tenants across the country.”

The inquiry into the blaze will hold its first hearing next month, with an initial report expected by Easter.

It will examine the actions of the authorities before the fire and the handling of the aftermath, as well as the “adequacy” of building regulations, the recent refurbishment of the block and the causes of the fire, the Government said.