Living arrangements for Grenfell Tower survivors 'a total mess'

Emergency living arrangements for the Grenfell Tower survivors have been branded a "total mess", two weeks after the area was devastated by a blaze.

Families are in a state of flux as they are shifted between hotels or placed in accommodation "not appropriate for their needs", a community leader said.

Meanwhile, neighbours living in the shadow of the gutted high rise have been blighted by a lack of basic utilities such as hot water, Andrea Newton of Lancaster West Residents' Association said.

Living arrangements for Grenfell Tower survivors 'a total mess'

Her warning came as a nationwide fire safety operation continued to grow, with 95 tower blocks across 32 English local authority areas so far identified with flammable cladding.

Nine hospital trusts have also been flagged for using building material similar to that suspected of aiding the spread of the west London fire, in which 79 people are so far known to have died.

Ms Newton, vice chairwoman of the residents' group, has been leading efforts to ensure those displaced have adequate supplies and shelter.

She told the Press Association: "People are in different accommodation that is not appropriate for their need and in hotels that have different amount of availability.

"There are the blocks that are inhabitable, they have been allowed to go back home, but they've got no hot water so there's a boiler being built by the military on the ground right now.

"They can go back, but do they want to go back? There's some exposed gas pipes, the health and safety aspect is so dodgy.

"Across the borough, the only accommodation you have that is free is stuff that is just not appropriate for people's mobility and vulnerabilities, that is why they are all stuck in hotels.

"It's a total mess."

She said her group has been in contact with hotel associations hoping to reach an arrangement so that those left destitute after the disaster do not "keep getting moved on".

Issues residents have had to endure include being collected by a shuttle bus to take their children to school which had "Grenfell residents" written on the front, Ms Newton said.

A spokesman for the Grenfell Response Team said: "The hot water boiler which serves Grenfell Tower and surrounding properties was located under the tower and completely destroyed by the fire.

"Work has commenced on fitting a new temporary boiler over the weekend and we are working hard to get hot water running within the next week. We are offering hotel accommodation to any residents affected until we can fix this.

"We are continuing to work with residents and other hotels to secure accommodation for as long as necessary and we continue to help these residents with their relocation needs."

As the Government continued to scrutinise fire safety at other high-rise blocks, it emerged the chairman of an expert panel had previously advised against retro-fitting sprinklers in such buildings.

An independent panel will convene to suggest immediate safety action, chaired by former London fire commissioner Sir Ken Knight, who compiled a report on the Lakanal House fire in Camberwell.

In his report on the blaze, which killed three women and three children in 2009, to the Department for Communities and Local Government, he wrote: "It is not considered as practical or economically viable to make a requirement for the retrospective fitting of fire suppression systems to all current high-rise residential buildings.

"However it is a matter for individual housing owners and landlords to decide if automatic fire suppression is required as part of their fire safety strategy based on their fire risk assessment."

Sprinklers and cladding are expected to be among the details analysed by a public inquiry into the fire.

The appointment of an expert panel was announced on Tuesday to "advise on any immediate measures that can be put in place to make buildings safe".

It will be made up of building and fire safety experts, including the chief executive of the Building Research Establishment, Peter Bonfield, the chairman of the National Fire Chiefs Council, Roy Wilsher, and president of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Amanda Clack

They are due to have their first meeting this week.

Announcing the appointment of the expert panel, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said: "It's absolutely right that there will be an independent public inquiry to get to the truth about what happened and who was responsible for the Grenfell Tower tragedy."

On Wednesday, a second tranche of inquests into people who died in the north Kensington tower tragedy are expected to open at Westminster Coroner's Court.

More than £32,000 was raised in a charity auction which will see a character in a new Philip Pullman book named after a teenager feared dead in the fire.

- PA

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