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No accident.

Comments Off on No accident. 14 June 2017

No accident.

Many years ago, when God was a boy, I was staying with a “friend” at her flat in a tower block just off Easton Way. Everything about the building, apart from the flat itself which was furnished like a luxury apartment, was unbearably awful. There were two lifts, one of which was permanently out of commission, there were always drug dealers at the front door and there were regular fires by the bins. The smell of the entrance and the working lift was awful, a heady combination of weed and urine. This experience, and work experience from a previous life, left me with very bad feelings. These, more often than not, were where the poor people lived. Lone parents on benefits, lonely pensioners, young people living chaotic lives. My experiences probably didn’t reflect the lives of everyone who lived in the giant blocks but I concluded that this was not a good place to live.

I could not possibly have foretold what happened last night at Grenfell Tower in London, but the thought was always there in my mind of what might happen if a fire broke out in a flat? Would it, could it be contained and if so, how? It turns out that there have been many fires in individual flats over the years and never, until now, has such a disaster occurred like this one.

I never liked the idea of tower blocks. Most people I came across who lived in them would rather have been anywhere else, in a self-contained flat in a small scale development or, God forbid, their own house. And yet, in places like Grenfell House, some 600 people lived in them.

So far, 12 people have died in the fire with the likelihood that the final tally will be considerably higher. We do not know who was responsible, arsonists, terrorists or someone else, but someone else will definitely be responsible. It will be someone’s fault, something somewhere either did something very bad or did something very badly. It won’t just be an accident. Heads will need to roll.

To say this must never happen again would be a major understatement. It should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. There is simply no excuse for allowing people to live in a place that was so unsafe. Where were the safeguards to ensure that such a fire could never happen?

Heroes everywhere again today, just as there were during the recent terrorist atrocities, starting with the emergency services and everyone who simply supplied rescue workers with food and drink. The light of human kindness shone through the blackness.

Politicians should now set the agenda to find out urgently what happened here and do whatever it takes and spend whatever it costs to prevent a repeat occurrence. It took many years for my fears about tower blocks to finally come through and I know if I lived in one tonight I’d be very scared.

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