Grenfell 'rehousing slowness' brings reply 'it's a time for getting it right'

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The leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council has insisted "this is not a time for haste, this is a time for getting it right" following criticism it has been too slow to rehouse survivors of the Grenfell Tower disaster.

Elizabeth Campbell said at the council meeting on Wednesday night that 20 families are now in permanent accommodation, while a further 52 households have accepted an offer in principle.

She said: "We are working around the clock to do whatever we can to get people into new homes."

Cllr Campbell said Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) had bought 120 homes, while a further 20 purchases were in the hands of solicitors and 20 more under negotiation.

"I am confident the number of people moving in to new homes will increase dramatically in the coming months," she said.

She was heckled by residents seated in the public gallery, with one shouting "You move in to a tower block then".

Labour councillor Robert Atkinson was cheered when he called on the Government to recommit to its promise of an amnesty for any illegal migrants affected by the fire.

Robert Atkinson
Labour councillor Robert Atkinson demanded that the Government gives an amnesty to those illegal immigrants affected by the fire (Lauren Hurley/PA)

He said it was the only way for any inquiry to get to the full truth of what happened on the night of June 14.

He condemned the slow rate of progress at rehousing survivors, saying: "The council needs to be doing more and needs to be doing it faster."

The meeting kicked off with a minute's silence to remember all those who lost their lives in the fire, followed by the appointment of Cllr Benazir Lasharie as deputy mayor.

Cllr Lasharie gave a tearful acceptance speech, saying: "The tower has been part of my life - the first thing I could see when I left my home and the last thing we would see when I came home."

She described growing up in the shadow of the tower and playing in the park at its base as a child, adding: "This council needs to change".

Members of the Independent Grenfell Recovery Task Force appointed by communities and local government minister Sajid Javid were present at the meeting to "challenge and support" the council, said Kensington's and Chelsea's mayor Marie-Therese Rossi.

Council Leader Elizabeth Campbell: I have spoken to the owners of 159 empty homes in Chelsea as to whether we can get them back into use

-- RBKC (@RBKC) September 27, 2017

She said: "They are looking at whether the council is up to the job of dealing with the long-term recovery of those who have suffered as a result of the Grenfell Fire tragedy."