Grenfell Tower residents told the council landlord three months before the disaster they were “seriously concerned” that people might die in a fire, but their fears were not properly addressed and they were treated as “sub-citizens”.
In spring 2017 leaseholders escalated worries that gas main installation in the evacuation staircase posed a serious fire risk and warned the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC): “If we cannot get out people will die or at best suffer serious injury.”
Lee Chapman, the secretary of the Grenfell leaseholders’ association, told the inquiry it was “a life and death issue” that “just wasn’t being dealt with” by RBKC and its tenant management organisation (TMO). He said their responses were “totally uninformative and generic” and there was “an us and them” relationship between the landlord and residents.
David Collins, a resident who became chairman of a residents’ group set up in response to “extreme dissatisfaction” with how people in the tower were being treated, told the inquiry the TMO viewed residents as “a distraction to be minimised, sidelined or ignored”.
“Residents were experiencing threats, lies, bullying and harassment from TMO and Rydon [the main contractor],” Collins said.