In Brief

Grenfell area residents threatened with eviction

Council issues ultimatum for people living in surrounding estates to return home or lose council tenancies

Residents who lived in the vicinity of Grenfell Tower when it burst into flames have been threatened with eviction unless they return to their homes.

People who live in estates connected to the tower in west London who were evacuated on the night of the fire last year are set to receive letters from Kensington and Chelsea Council today saying they must return home by the end of this month, or face having their council tenancies terminated, The Guardian has learned.

The letter also says that those wishing to be rehoused rather than returning to their homes in the shadow of the tower may have a long wait. “Even those deemed to be an emergency medical priority or at serious risk of harm will have to wait more than a year for a two-, three- or four-bedroom property,” says the paper.

Local Labour MP Emma Dent Coad said: “The deadline is creating a climate of fear which is both inhumane and hindering the ability of deeply traumatised people to make important decisions about their futures.”

A spokesman for the council said: “We will work with tenants to ensure they get the right homes for them. We will go above and beyond to help them and be flexible. This will not preclude them using all the options open to them. No tenant will be left homeless.”

The move follows an outcry earlier this year after it was announced pupils who had been displaced from their school because of the Grenfell fire would move back to the site at the start of the academic year.

School leaders at Kensington’s Aldridge Academy acknowledged returning to the site could be difficult for some pupils who lived in and around the tower, especially as five of their classmates had been among the 72 people killed in the blaze, with some families arguing it was too soon to return.

This week, the official inquiry into the tragedy has heard how fire bridge officers begged their superiors to abandon “stay put” advice being given to Grenfell Tower residents.

London Fire Brigade was first alerted to the blaze at 12.54am and, in line with the fire policy for high-rise buildings, told residents to remain in their flats.

But, says The Independent, “the speed and ferocity of the fire meant many occupants became trapped on upper floors. The stay-put policy was finally ditched at 2.47am – a heavily criticised delay.”

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