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Grenfell campaigners, firefighters and Labour blast government’s inaction for justice and fire safety over last three years

GRENFELL campaigners were still seeking justice on the third anniversary of the disaster today as they condemned government inaction to make buildings and their residents safe from fires. 

Sunday marked three years since a horrific blaze in the west London tower block broke out in the middle of the night, killing 72 people.

About 300 residential buildings are still wrapped in ACM Grenfell-style cladding, the majority in London, despite the government promising that any such materials would be removed by this month.

As well as this lack of movement on making homes safe, phase two of an ongoing inquiry into the tragedy was suspended in March until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Grenfell survivor Ed Daffarn said that he feared that, “as every month and every year goes on” the momentum behind the fight for justice is slowed down by lack of action.

“That fills me with anger, rage and sadness,” he said.

Labour condemned the failure to remove flammable materials as a “national disgrace,” as new analysis showed that up to 56,000 people are still living in blocks with the dangerous cladding.

The party called on ministers to take enforcement action against landlords who were failing to remove the flammable material.

Official figures published on Thursday confirmed that the government had missed its June 2020 deadline, with 300 still covered.

Labour is warning that at the current pace, the replacement of life-threatening panels could take 39 years to complete.

Ministers have refused to financially support leaseholders who are paying for interim safety measures. 

Some leaseholders are currently paying as much as £840 per month for the building owners’ safety measures.

Shadow housing secretary Thangam Debbonaire said: “This vital work must speed up. It is a matter of life and death.”

Former Labour Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad voiced her “huge frustration” with the “snail’s pace of change in safety regulations.”

She urged campaigners to “never ever give up the fight,” adding that “it is our life’s work now.”

Former shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon said that Britain, the sixth-largest economy in the world, should have sorted the dangerous cladding sooner.

Liverpool Riverside MP Kim Johnson called for an end to “profit-driven deregulation,” adding: “We cannot bring back those loved ones who were lost. But we can stop this happening to one more innocent life.”

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned that firefighters “will not accept another year of inaction” as another fire tragedy similar to Grenfell could “happen tomorrow.”

It also called for an end to “a politics that values profit over people” while condemning ministers’ “endless promises, excuses, and platitudes.”

FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said: “While the world has faced up to the coronavirus pandemic, the inquiry into the Grenfell atrocity has been put on hold, giving the companies and politicians responsible more time still to avoid scrutiny.

“It was decades of deregulation, privatisation and austerity that allowed Grenfell to take place, with a politics that values profit over people. When the economy restarts, we must not fall prey to the failed arguments of the past that led to this horrendous loss of life.”

At the site of the tower, the FBU laid a green wreath in tribute to the 72 victims.

Monthly marches have taken place in west London since the fire broke out.

But due to coronavirus social distancing rules, an online remembrance event took place instead last night from 6pm that included tributes and vigils to victims, the bereaved, and survivors.

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