Grant residency rights to undocumented Grenfell Tower survivors, say councillors
There are concerns a true picture of who was in the building on the night of the blaze is being distorted.
Undocumented migrants from Grenfell Tower should be given the permanent right to remain in the UK, councillors will urge this week at a crunch meeting.
Kensington and Chelsea Council will gather on Wednesday to formally elect a new chief executive, having spent weeks besieged by criticism over its handling of the disaster.
Up for debate will be a motion put forward by Labour councillor Robert Thompson calling on the Government to guarantee the block’s illegal immigrants amnesty from prosecution and providing them with residency rights.
It follows concerns that a true picture of who was in the building on the night of the blaze is being distorted because many who lived there unlawfully are too afraid to talk to authorities.
The motion, which is set out in the agenda for Wednesday’s meeting, “laments” the Home Office position that undocumented survivors will only be sheltered from immigration rules for 12 months.
It continues: “This Council therefore: 1. Calls on the government to reverse this decision and to grant undocumented residents a complete amnesty with permanent right to remain in the country. 2. Urges residents in this situation to contact the North Kensington Law Centre to receive free, impartial and confidential advice on legal immigration issues before contacting the Home Office.”
Also up for discussion that evening will be a petition from those who “live or work” in the borough, calling for the “immediate resignation of the full cabinet of the Council”.
The local authority came under sustained attack from both survivors and senior politicians for its failure to co-ordinate a quick and effective response to the crisis.
The last meeting of the council’s top team descended into mayhem after then-leader Nicholas Paget-Brown attempted to bar press and public from attending. His decision was overturned in a High Court challenge by the media, leading Mr Paget-Brown to scrap the cabinet session to the fury of opposition councillors.
He quit his role at the helm of the troubled authority shortly afterwards.
Wednesday’s meeting will seek to replace former chief executive Nicholas Holgate, who also left his post in the wake of the tragedy.
Another motion, from Labour councillor Judith Blakeman, will also be debated, demanding the authority uses some of its reserves of more than £250 million to “provide the widest choice of permanent rehousing options for survivor households”.
This includes buying back 32 homes near Grenfell Tower, which are leased for development, so they can be used for social housing.