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Tenants of Grenfell Tower estate hit out at ‘ill-considered’ consultation letter

Kensington and Chelsea Council set out a series of proposals for affected residents.

Evacuees from blocks adjacent to Grenfell Tower have hit out a letter from the council containing an “ill-considered” consultation about their return home.

The correspondence from Kensington and Chelsea Council features an “offer” for affected tenants about benefits they could expect in the future.

Many households were displaced from their homes near the tower when utilities cut out in the aftermath of the fire, with some having since returned.

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A letter sent to evacuees (Residents of Lancaster West Estate/PA)

The offer is split into six circumstances a resident could consider, including one for tenants or leaseholders who have already returned or wish to, as well as those who intend to return temporarily and those who do not want to go back.

It outlines a series of “proposals” including a rent-free period, a three-month suspension of certain bills and a redecoration service, upon which recipients are asked to comment.

One part of the offer – for tenants planning to return home – reads: “Professional cleaning of carpets and curtains to remove the smell of smoke.”

But a group of those forced to leave the Lancaster West estate, in which Grenfell Tower stands, penned a rebuttal slapping down the suggestions. They instead asked for assurances that the council’s offer was not “settlement for accountability” and suggested a list of guarantees they wanted affirming.

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Affected residents criticised the council's offer (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The council’s offer also states those who choose not to go back to their property will be provided with hotels until alternative accommodation is arranged and will have storage paid for.

A cover letter signed by council chief executive Barry Quirk reads: “Anything you may feedback in this form does not commit you to staying or leaving; at this stage we are merely seeking your views.”

It concludes that residents have a “short time frame” by which to respond, setting the deadline as Monday.

The response from the Lancaster West Residents Support group, one of several operating on the estate and said to represent around 50 households, suggests nine alternative offers.

It includes “further plans” for Grenfell Tower and the estate at large, along with: “An assurance from an independent assessment that the walkways are safe to inhabit and not a risk to the health of residents, including air pollution/toxicity.”

Distrust was expressed in the residents’ response about how their replies will be used by the council in future decision-making.

The letter reads: “Considering the widespread trauma that this disaster has caused, forcing consequential decisions within a limited time frame and with insufficient communication on the issue, nor space for real discussion is ill-considered at best and cruel at worst…

“Factors which need to be clearly confirmed before any realistic decisions can be made should include greater information, clear assurances and a guarantee that such decisions will not be considered as a settlement for accountability.”

It ends: “We would like written assurance sent to all residents that any response to this letter will not qualify as a commitment.”

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