Thousands of people are calling for Kensington and Chelsea Council to sever ties with the body that managed the Grenfell Tower, two months after the devastating fire.
The heads of sixteen residents’ associations have written an open letter to council leader Elizabeth Campbell, saying that residents have “no confidence” in the Tenant Management Organisation (TMO), which manages social housing in the borough.
The TMO has been heavily criticised, with residents claiming they raised safety fears months before the blaze engulfed the 24-storey high rise in June.
The open letter was published on Monday, the two month anniversary of the fire, which killed at least 80 people and left hundreds more homeless.
The leaders of the residents’ associations, which represent thousands of households in the borough, are calling for “an improved and responsive model that puts residents safety and interests first”.
Last month, the Metropolitan Police said there were grounds for corporate manslaughter charges against the council and TMO.
Samia Badani, chair of Bramley House Residents’ Association, told HuffPost UK: “What happened in Grenfell shows exactly what we all feared.
“We had ongoing issues with the TMO for years that were ignored.”
Badani said that the fact that so many residents’ association heads have signed the letter shows the overwhelming feeling that people living in TMO-managed properties do not feel safe or listened to.
She added: “The TMO’s response prior, during and after the Grenfell fire is wholly inappropriate. Residents continue to be ignored and repairs are not being carried out.
“There should be an immediate risk assessment and a willingness to restrict certain TMO’s functions ending a new model of management of social housing.
“Residents have no confidence in the TMO’s ability to manage social housing in the borough.”
The letter says residents do not have any faith in the TMO’s ability to “make the correct decisions about our safety”.
The open letter sent to the council, signed by the heads of 16 residents associations, reads:
To Cllr Elizabeth Campbell (Leader of RBK&C Council) and Cllr Kim Taylor-Smith (Deputy Leader of RBK&C Council)
On 28 July 2017, 25 leaders from Residents Associations, Leaseholders Associations and Compacts met to discuss recent events. We agreed that the position of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation Ltd (hereafter referred to as KCTMO) is no longer tenable and that there is an urgent need to adopt a different, resident - focused model of managing Council housing in our borough.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of Grenfell Tower fire and their families.
We pledge our unconditional support for the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire and stand ready to join in any efforts to help them and the significant number of residents in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea that have been affected. The residents of this borough have demonstrated a remarkable resilience and a commitment to re-build this community.
We agree that there has been a fundamental breach of the duty of care by the KCTMO that cannot be remedied. The police have reasonable grounds to suspect that KCTMO committed an offence. This should be sufficient for RBK&C to take immediate action to end its contract with KCTMO.
It is clear to us that KCTMO is not fit for purpose. We have no confidence in their ability to manage Council housing on behalf of RBK&C or in their ability to make the correct decisions about our safety.
We the undersigned call on the leadership team of RBK&C to accept our vote of no confidence in the KCTMO, and commit themselves publicly to ensuring that all those subject to the TMO’s management - Council tenants and leaseholders, absentee leaseholders and the tenants of leaseholders - are not only consulted but fully participate from the outset in the process of deciding and co-designing how our homes and estates are managed in the future.
We submit that such actions will help rebuild our community, make it stronger and more sustainable and above all, a step forward to restoring public confidence in our Local Authority and move towards the healing process of all those affected.
Both the TMO and council have been severely criticised for their response to the fire.
Last Wednesday, residents at a Grenfell Response Team meeting demanded that a representative from TMO attend the next meeting as many of them are still seeking answers.
In the immediate aftermath of the devastating blaze, residents told HuffPost UK that they felt “forgotten” by the very authorities meant to be helping them deal with the disaster.
A council spokesman told HuffPost UK: “We fully realise that the Council has lost public trust. But we are determined to act properly, thoroughly and fairly to restore public trust over time.
“We are looking at all options for managing our own housing into the future. This will obviously include options for alternative management other than the KCTMO. We will, of course, consult with residents, the TMO and other potential housing partners on all options.”