POLITICS

Tories Under Attack Over 'Crass' Survey Asking Residents To Rate Grenfell Fire With Marks Out Of Ten

Election leaflet ranks tragedy next to council tax, bin collection

13/11/2017 21:20 GMT | Updated 14/11/2017 11:13 GMT
PA Wire/PA Images

Tory activists in Kensington and Chelsea have come under attack for a “crass” and “insensitive” survey that asked residents to rate the importance of the Grenfell Tower tragedy on a scale of nought to 10.

The leaflet, which was sent out in a wealthy area of the West London borough, asks constituents to put a number on how much they care about “The tragedy of Grenfell and the help for the families affected and the wider community”.

Dropped through letterboxes in the Courtfield Ward in Kensington on Sunday, the letter was an attempt to build political support ahead of next year’s local elections for the controversial council.

Residents were asked to “circle the number which represents how important to you and your family each of the following local issues”, starting with Grenfell, but also including “keeping council tax low”, “rubbish collection”, “recycling” and “Crossrail 2”.

The Tory-run council was heavily criticised for its slow response to the fire that killed more than 80 people in June, with leader Nick Paget-Brown forced to step down for his inadequate handling of the aftermath.

Five months on, the borough is still facing claims that it has not done enough to find permanent new homes for survivors of the blaze.

The backlash against the survey was swift, with Grenfell campaigners and Lily Allen and Labour MP David Lammy – who lost a friend in the fire – among those expressing their dismay.

Local MP Emma Dent Coad said that the letter proved that local Tories had not changed their attitudes.

“Asking people how much they care about Grenfell on a score of 0 to 10 is shameful.”

But the local Kensington, Chelsea and Fulham Conservatives and the national party refused to comment. Local Chelsea and Fulham MP Greg Hands, who is also an international trade minister, failed to respond to a request for comment.

Charlie Goodman, who originally publicised the leaflet on a local Lib Dem Facebook group, told HuffPost UK: “I was shocked at the unbelievable insensitivity of this survey, and its attempt to quantify feeling towards such a tragic event among other items.

“Thanks to the very public mismanagement of this Conservative led council many of the victims still remain homeless months after support was promised. Despite the opportunity to reflect internally following these events, the local party hasn’t learned from its repeated mistakes.

“It’s time for change, and I think this coming council election in May is the right opportunity for local people to show the Conservatives what they think.”

KenChel Lib Dems Facebook
The original image of the shock leaflet.

Moyra Samuels, co-coordinator of Justice4Grenfell, said: “This leaflet demonstrates the crass insensitivity of the Conservative council who are focused on the local election in May rather than reflecting on whether their constituents think they have responded effectively to the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire.

“It is further evidence of the council’s lack of emotional intelligence and leadership to expect their constituents to decide how important the impact of the fire has been.”

“Reelection in May is more significant than responding to the survivors needs in a humane and timely way.”

Shadow Communities Secretary Andrew Gwynne said the survey was a ‘further insult’ to local people.

“Grenfell was a national tragedy and this incredibly insensitive letter is a further insult to the residents who are trying to rebuild their lives, many of whom have still not been rehoused.”